Strange Confessions: 3 cigarettes, conclusion.
While hanging out with my friend in the summer of ’85, I smoked a few cigarettes. It was not much. As I said before, I probably don’t need more than two hands to count them. I believe part of the reason I did this was to fit in. If you’ve known me for some time, and have had conversations with me about my past, you’ll know I am the anti-popular-reasoner, but there have been some exceptions, which will be subjects of other Strange Confessions.
So it was me, my friend, and this other guy who was a friend of my friend. Hmm, this would be easier if I could address them with names. We’ll call my friend Mack, and his friend Punk. So we are out there, behind The Store, you know The Store right? It was this junky little grocery store down 6200 S. off of Highland Drive, but now it is a fine foods market & deli. You know the kind: independent little places that were lucky enough to be in a location that had great growth and can completely change its identity to cater to those with a higher taste for more expensive goods. Not to mention that Rich’s Bagels was right across the street. What? You mean to tell me you never had an asiago cheese bagel from Rich’s? Go get one,… like now! Oh, and don’t forget the savory cream cheese, you know, with sun-dried tomato, scallion, herb or jalapeño.
Anyway, Mack and Punk and I were standing back behind The Store, (there was no fence there then. There is now, I checked on Google maps) smoking our cigarettes, talking about Pink Floyd or AC/DC or some punk band that Mack was starting to get into. I wasn’t really inhaling, just kind of taking it into my mouth and blowing it out. I was accused a time or two that I wasn’t doing it right, by seasoned observers of course, possibly by Punk on this day or some other time by someone else. That isn’t the point of this story anyhow. What was, was the way I “ashed” my cigarette. So you’re smoking away and knocking off the length of ash that grows at the end of your cigarette. I found this part particularly cool, holding the filter between your index and middle finger, and flicking the mouth part with your thumb so the ash gets knocked to the ground. Incidentally, I’ve always despised the fact that being a smoker is an automatic license to litter wherever and whenever you darn well please! Watching people throw their cigarettes out their car window, or seeing all the cigarette butts piled near building entrances or even mountain trails makes me want to crash into them or kick someone in the head… I know, just relax, nothing to get THAT excited about. So, I get near the end of my cigarette and I’m ashing away, when suddenly my whole “cherry” escapes from its paper lining and falls, *gulp* unconsumed to the ground. The “cherry” is the red-hot burning part of the cigarette and you don’t ash it when you get near the end, because it will do just that: fall out. Punk starts laughing at me, calling me a noob. Wait, we didn’t call each other noobs back then, but if we did I’m sure Punk would have called me just that. There I am standing there, no more cherry in my cig, no more ash to ash, just some doofus with a stained filter betwixt his fingers, and a bigger doofus laughing at him.
I never saw myself becoming a regular smoker up to this point, just doing it with friends or whatever. I suppose no one really sees himself becoming a smoker, then one day, bam, you’re a smoker. But, that day I saw smoking as one of the most stupid habits ever! I thank God for Punk and his idiotic guffawing at my ineptitude at killing myself ever so slowly, for he made me realize how dumb it was to follow the crowd down the path of least resistance; an attitude that has stuck with me, for the most part, all my life.
Strange Confessions: My friend and I loved to fool a crowd… with cigarettes.
My parents both smoked when I was younger and in school we use to take these health/habit questionnaires, and it showed that 3 of the 4 of us, my brother and sisters, would smoke when we were older. I always hated cigarettes, I thought they were foul and disgusting and I always got a headache being around them. I believe my oldest sister thought the same. I’m not sure of my younger sister, although I believe she never took it up. Yet my brother did for a while. and, I’m proud of him: he stopped sometime around getting married.
Although my disgust for them was huge the opportunity for comedy overrode the disgust for a time. Which leads me to the second story. One of my friends in High School smoked and I would get all up in his face occasionally about it. We had decided it would be funny if we pretended not to know each other in a public place, such as a crowded bus stop… well anyway here is the story:
My friend was sitting at a crowded bus stop downtown, kicking back, enjoying his cigarette. I came up sat down beside him and started going into my rant about how horrible it was to smoke. “It makes your breath stink, yellows your teeth and fingers, the smoke not only hinders your immune system to fight common colds, but it gets everywhere. It’s in your clothes, in your hair, in the air. It offends people. It makes others sick, having to breathe in your stupid habit. It costs money that you could be using for good. Your taking minutes, days, years off your life every time you light one of those up. You start it with a fire, breathe this burning coal down into your lungs, where you need oxygen and you’re actually depleting your ability to get oxygen into your body.” I said this loudly enough for everyone else to hear, making large gestures with my arms to get peoples attention. My friend would just sit there listening, staring and smoking his stick. When I was apparently done he would take a big drag, look over at me, offer me the cigarette and ask, “So do you want a drag?” I paused for effect and said, “Sure.” Then I take it and smoke it. I wasn’t able to see anybody’s reaction to our little play, but I just imagined the shock and horror in their faces. We just had to keep ours straight.
Strange Confessions: I can count the number of cigarettes I’ve smoked on both hands.
This is not, in any way shape or form a condoning of smoking cigarettes. I find them disgusting and you should never take up this habit/addiction. There are 3 cigarettes that are memorable in mind, and these are the true Strange Confessions of the story.
My first one is about the first cigarette I smoked.
I stole one from my mom’s purse took it outside and smoked it out on the side of our house. It was a Virginia Slim, a very macho type of cancer stick, all disguised up in an innocent looking box of white and green stripes. As I stole out of the house, looking quite suspicious I’m sure, except it was night and all dark and dastardly deeds are done in the dark, it was bright enough though for me to sneak my way past the low bushes, around the corner to sit down against the fence surrounded by high vegetation and a cold paving stone on my backside. I lit up with…, oh I can’t remember that specifically. Anyway I smoked the whole thing. I don’t remember coughing or even if I inhaled completely. But, I do remember standing up. Oh Boy! That’s when it hit me. It felt like someone had stirred up my brains and was messing with my sense of balance. Was my Mom home? My Dad? My siblings? I don’t even remember. The power of that instant headache and queasiness blotted out all other memories, and oh boy, did it make me want another. Nah, just kidding. If that first foray into smoking didn’t deter me from partaking into the dark and desperate side of cancer risk, my final one did. But that is a story for another time. Don’t worry I’ll finish up this series in the next couple of days sans end of the world, which won’t happen, unfortunately. Oh, both these other stories involve the friend from the previous Strange Confession, you know the one who dated Joan Jett.