When I was a kid, I did four months in Boy Scouts. It cured me of camping. The sleeping outside in a tent in the rain with another guy was not for me. Neither was the uniform or running around like an asshole for merit badges. The whole thing just seemed jive. Who wants to shit outside?
The only matches you were allowed to have (for emergencies) were Ohio Blue-Tips, on account of you could strike them on anything; and you carried them in this cool little silver canister-thing, that I later used to stash other substances.
Years later, I would meet a girl from Ohio who would strike these matches off of her zipper. She wore cowboy boots and tore around on a little Suzuki. She also smoked Tiajuana Smalls and carried a flask of Wild Turkey. She was way more comfortable around guys than other girls. The girly-girls hated her because she was prettier than most of them and they started whisper campaigns about her promiscuity, which weren’t true. In fact, she was damn near prudish in a lot of ways.
She hung out with the trouble-makers and creative types and she was a good friend when you needed a friend. Whenever you needed a light, she’d strike one of these matches with a fingernail, like Lee Marvin, and light your cigarette. She did this as one elegant gesture; one that had probably taken much practice. She was cool.
I’ve always loved these matches. They imply our covenant with fire. They put fire at our disposal with one stroke. I loved the way she lit matches–greaser-style. It was also musical in a way worth remembering.
Naturally, these were also the matches of choice for hobos; easy to store and necessary for cooking and fires. Some years ago I would, on occasion, run into bits of folk-art make from spent Ohio Blue-Tips; little cabin-like things or picture frames. There was a man in Washington Square Park in New York who made wondrous little boxes from them. I’d always meant to buy one but never quite got to it. He is probably still there. Next time I go to NY I will find him. He was there 30 years ago and I always admired his craft. It’s time to get one. It’s time to let that guy know that I admire his boxes and the act of faith they convey.