a real soundtrack for an imaginary spy film

Episode Two - INVISIBLY YOURS (Tijuana Smells)

Copyright © 2002 - 2005 Arthur Jarvinen

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The Invisible Guy is on a plane, on the tarmac in Tijuana, where they've been waiting for over an hour while the ground crew investigates a suspicious indicator light before giving the okay to take off. He scheduled his itinerary most specifically to include this particular flight according to rather exacting instructions, and was expecting to meet his contact, one "Tijuana Smalls", but is leaving Mexico – if they ever take off – disappointed, having neither met nor heard from Mr. Smalls, whoever he might be. At least the stewardesses are working, so beverages and other amenities are available.

"Cigar, cigarette, Tiparillo…Cigar, cigarette…"

"I believe this is your brand señor, si?" the cigarette lady says politely but pointedly, presenting the tobacco-product-laden tray featuring an assortment of popular brands and types, looking The Invisible Guy right in the sunglass-covered eye, and winking.

At the very edge of the tray, in front of the other products and with one thin, tightly-wrapped smoke extending from the box about a half inch farther than the others, is a freshly-opened pack of Tijuana Smalls – ten for the road.

"Umm..why yes, so it is. Muchas gracias" says The Invisible Guy as he notices the brand name, then follows through by withdrawing the smoke and accepting a light from his gracious hostess.

"He must be on this plane, and this is his calling card", The Invisible Guy speculates as he looks discreetly around the cabin, then tilts his seat back a bit and blows a smoke ring into the air above him.

"Hola, T.I.G."

"What the!?" - But he's not seeing things. Before his very eyes the The Invisible Guy's smoke ring morphs into letters, like sky writing, spelling out a greeting, obviously meant for him personally.

"Well, if that ain't a neat trick" he thinks as he blows another ring, then another, and another, watching each transform from a simple circle into more complex alphabetic units and strings (while of course memorizing the information imparted) before dispersing into thin air, gone forever (or into someone else's lungs as second-hand smoke).

His cigarillo almost finished, and being now in possession of the very information he came here seeking, The Invisible Guy casually blows one last "O" of smoke…

"Invisibly Yours,

"Pardon me sir, I know this is the smoking section, but would you mind putting out that rancid excuse for a cigar? Here, have one of mine instead. I think you'll greatly prefer it", the gentleman across the aisle says, proffering a genuine Cuban Montecristo #2.


Claude, seated two rows back, smiles and returns his attention to The Hollow Men in a paperback edition of selected poems of T.S. Eliot and observes that his Tequila Sunrise is just about due for replenishing.

In the early 1970s there was a series of memorable television commercials for Tijuana Smalls, featuring a good jingle written by Steve Karmen and appearances by various music celebrities who were not identified by name. They didn't actually "endorse" the product per se; they just appeared in the ad, and you had to take notice on your own who they were. This author specifically remembers spotting Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas, and blues guitarist Johnny Winter (I think Johnny was playing a National steel). Others who appeared in these ads include Sonny & Cher, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, and B.B. King.

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