The easy joke is that Garcia finally found the perfect ashtray, but those things are terrible. Giant communal ashtrays are to personal ashtrays what the stadium piss trough is to your toilet: it’s not even a contest, and quite frankly the floor is preferable.
The pot dealer on my floor at college had one–it was an old hubcab, but same principle–and it was filled with his Basic menthol 100’s and at any one time, there were at least three separate smolders going on. The only thing that smells worse than a cigarette is the quietly burning filter of a cigarette at the bottom of a pile of week-old cigarettes.
Garcia liked a glass ashtray with a decent heft and the right size grooves to lay your cigarette in while you practice scales. I’m not basing this on any facts except Garcia was a serious smoker, and serious smokers figure out the most efficient way to smoke after a while. Small, heavy-ish glass ashtray; emptied every three or four stub-outs.
(Fun fact: the indentation where you rest your smoke? Doesn’t have a name. I looked. We could name it, I suppose. Here’s mine: “butt rut.” You could also call it a “glass pass” but that wouldn’t work for plastic or ceramic ‘trays. See if you can come up with one.)
A Ranking Of Ashtrays:
(And, by the way: don’t smoke. You know that already; I am not the first one to tell you.)
- Single-user glass ashtray. This is the king. Look at this beautiful fucker:
A circle within a square. Ramparts, battlements, a well. Nothing more than necessary. Also: if you do not smoke cigarettes, you can put your weed in there.
And tough. Glass has interesting properties, one of them being that making it a little bit thicker makes it a lot stronger; there is almost certainly a mathematical formula for it. If you held this over your head and dropped it onto the sidewalk, it would most likely shatter, but these ashtrays will survive innumerable topples onto carpet or hardwood.
Could you defend yourself with it? Hell, yeah. Flat part against a skull might kill somebody. (Probably not, though, but if you hit a Zika baby with it, then the baby would die. You could definitely defend yourself from one or even a swarm of Zika babies.
- Plastic Ashtray. Better than the alternatives but nowhere near optimal. Far rarer nowadays.
Older Enthusiasts will recall these as ubiquitous, especially in pizza parlors for some reason. Any bar would have this (or one with beer branding on it) every three feet along the bar, and at every table. They were in the same family as fire extinguishers and water fountains: you only noticed when they weren’t there.
They are no longer there. which is fine, because plastic ashtrays were such a shitty substitute for glass, although you can understand their existence: glass ashtrays are expensive, and people will steal anything not nailed down. The problem was their skimpiness: you could send the thing flying across the barroom with one drunken gesture.
Could you defend yourself with it? Not really. If there were ashes and butts in it, you could fling that into the eyes of your attacker, but the item itself is of no use. Maybe you could break it and hope one of the pieces was sharp? Not a great weapon.
- Communal ashtray of any sort. Almost unfair to include as the communal ashtray has a different purpose than the individual ashtray: its loyalties are to the park, or street, and not to you. It is the ashtray of the people, comrade.
It’s a port-a-pottie, but for cigarettes. Better than smokers flicking their used cancer all over the ground, but just.
Could you defend yourself with it? It is a melee weapon. You could do some damage with one these things, plus they’re just enclosed garbage cans, so when you hit someone with it, the sound would be “PWUMPF” and that would be funny.
If you were forced to use violence to keep your family and possessions safe, you would want it to be the 70’s, because if you were limited to using a communal ashtray to defend yourself, you want this bad boy:
Imagine Jackie Chan getting hold of this sumbitch. Or Billy. You could easily kill a room full of people with this beast, plus sometimes there was sand in the top.
Now they’re fighting blind.
- Clay ashtray, homemade. The feel–the tactile sensation of putting my fingers on this substance–makes me retch: I cannot explain it, but I don’t feel like fighting it. My phobias are mostly limited to deep water and spiders (which makes sense), and touching certain things. I think that’s the right amount of irrational fears: everybody gets a couple.
Oh, no. I can feel it. Dry and grumbly and full of hate and smocks. GO BACK TO YOUR KILN.
Can you defend yourself with it. Holy fuck, I have the shkeeves. I don’t want to do this anymore.