Fourteen-year-old Speck Mellencamp talked his father, roots rocker (and Farm Aid co-founder) John Mellencamp into quitting smoking if he got a million people to join this Facebook page. It's up to 231,091 and still has a long way to go, in spite of Speck's chat with Scott Simon on NPR this weekend.
Speck's page also suggests a model for coercing (i.e., shaming) friends and family into doing things they might otherwise not be inclined to do. These could include losing weight, seeing a dentist, getting a colonoscopy (actually more fun than you'd imagine), or any of the other myriad self-maintenance activities most of us would prefer to avoid, due to lack of insurance (thanks for nothing again, Joe Lieberman) or simple inertia.
Question is, though, what's really taken Mellencamp this long to quit smoking? As commenters have pointed out, is John really going to keep puffing away if only 700,000 FB members care enough to click over to the page? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is getting a little leathery around the eyes, John.
I understand the impulse to smoke when you're young and invincible – as long as you don't do it around me! (I'm talking to you, greasy-haired chain smoker in row M at Phish's June 2 show at Jones Beach.) But 58-year-old geezers like John really should know better, and I suspect that no amount of online pressure is going to make much of an impact on how he feels while sipping his morning coffee or snapping the tab off the evening's first Pabst. Sean Daly indicates as much in this 2004 with the artist formerly known as "Cougar":
The first time I was married, I was 18. And the father of the woman I was married to was in his early 50s. His name was Chet. Lovely guy. Lovely guy. Big fat guy. His hair was all gray. Chet would eat and he would sweat. Ever see anybody sweat when they eat? That's bad. I was living in their house. I had no job. I was in a band. I was married to this guy's daughter, had a kid with her. Mooching off these people. And Chet treated me so good.
Anyway, I used to see Chet get up in the night and smoke. Hack around. And I told myself, "I'll never do that. If ever do that, I'll quit." Now I get up in the night. No shirt on. Just a pair of underwear on. And I'll sit on the couch and smoke and think, "I'm Chet, man. I'm (bleepin') Chet."
And if Mellencamp really did "know better," he probably wouldn't have named his son "Speck" 14 years ago. The son of a Victoria's Secret model (Elaine Irwin) deserves something less belittling. Maybe polling for a name change could be the kid's next FB project.