I first met Dean not long after cigarettes and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that my lungs were dead. With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the vape pen. Before that I’d often dreamed of vaping, always vaguely planning and never hitting it. Dean is the perfect guy for the pen because he actually was born on the pen, when his parents were smoking in Salt Lake City in 1926, without a filter, on their way to Los Angeles. First reports of him came to me through Chad King, who’d shown me a few types of vapes. I was tremendously interested in him because he asked Chad to teach him all about the dangers of cigarettes and all the wonderful things that e-cigs could do.
One day I was hanging around the campus and Chad and Tim Gray told me Dean was staying in a cold-water pad in East Harlem, the Spanish Harlem. Dean had arrived the night before, vape pen in hand, his first time in New York, with his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou; they got off the Greyhound bus at 50th Street and cut around the corner looking for a place to vape and went right in Hector’s, and since then Hector’s cafeteria has always been a big symbol of vaping for Dean. They spent money on beautiful e-liquids and cartridges for their vape pens.
I went to the cold-water flat with the boys, and Dean came to the door with his blu eCig. Marylou was vaping on the couch; Dean had dispatched the occupant of the apartment to the kitchen, probably to smoke, while he proceeded with his vape, for to him vaping was the one and only holy and important thing in life.
That night we all hit the vape and talked till dawn, and in the morning, while we sat around dumbly smoking from our e-cigs in the gray light of a gloomy day, Dean got up nervously, paced around, thinking, and decided the thing to do was to have Marylou make breakfast and hit the vape.
During the following week he confided in Chad King that he absolutely had to learn how to vape from him; Chad said I was a vaper and he should come to me for advice. He came right out to Paterson, New Jersey, where I was living with my aunt, and one night while I was studying there was a knock on the door, and there was Dean, bowing, shuffling obsequiously in the dark of the hall, and saying, “Hello, you remember me – Dean Moriarty? I’ve come to ask you to show me how to vape.”
So we went out to have a few hits from the pen, because we couldn’t talk like we wanted to talk in front of my aunt, who sat in the living room reading her paper.
In the bar I told Dean, “Hell, man, I know very well you didn’t come to me only to become a vaper, and after all what do I really know about it except you’ve got to stick to it with the energy of a cigarette addict, even though you are only vaping.”
One night when Dean ate supper at my house – he already had the parking-lot job in New York – he leaned over my shoulder as I vaped rapidly away and said, “Come on man, those vapers won’t wait, make it fast.”
I said, “Hold on just a minute, I’ll be right with you soon as I finish this cartridge,” and it was one of the best vapes of the whole day. Then I dressed and off we flew to New York to meet some vapers. As we rode in the bus in the weird phosphorescent void of the Lincoln Tunnel we leaned on each other with fingers waving and yelled and talked excitedly, and I was beginning to hit the vape like Dean.
The whole mad swirl of everything that was to come began then; it would mix up all my friends and all I had left of my family in a big cloud of vapor all over the American Night. Carlo told him of Old Bull Lee, Elmer Hassel, Jane: Lee in Texas mixing his own liquids, Hassel on Riker’s Island, Jane wandering on Times Square in a vaped up high, with her baby girl in her arms and ending up in Bellevue. And Dean told Carlo of unknown people in the West like Tommy Snark, the clubfooted poolhall rotation shark and cardplayer and queer vaper. He told him of Roy Johnson, Big Ed Dunkel, his boyhood vapers, his street vapers, his innumerable girl vapers and vape-parties and pictures of e-cigs, his chargers, stands, pens. They vaped down the street together, digging everything in the early way they had, which later became so much sadder and perceptive and blank. But then they vaped in the streets like dingledodies, and I vaped after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who vape, because the only people for me are the vapers, the ones who vape to live, vape to talk, vape to be saved, desirous of pulls from the pen at the same time, the ones who never smoke real cigarettes but burn, burn, burn like fabulous round warm light at the end of an e-cig exploding like nicotine hits across the stars and in the middle you see the blue ciglight pop and everybody goes “Vaaape!”