Sunday, September 17, 2006

Smokes! (Not particularly Holy)

I was in seventh grade the first time anyone offered me a cigarette. Her name was Jaime, and we might've been friends if we'd seen each other more often. The city she lived in was about a 45 minute drive away - rather a lot when you can't actually drive. Her grandparents, however, lived on the outskirts of my town, and they went to the same church I did, so when she visited them for the weekend, I saw her at church.

As it was, we were sort of ... associates. We'd amble through the fields and woods behind her grandparents' farmhouse, and talk. (There wasn't much else to do.) I knew she smoked; she regularly had a pack of cigarettes with her. I'm fairly sure she knew I didn't, because I never had any. One day, she offered me one of hers. I said, "okay," mostly because I'd (a) never tried it and wondered what it was like, and (b) we were a couple hundred yards from the house; there was no way I'd get caught and get in trouble.

I couldn't even get the stupid thing to light at first. She had to explain that you had to take a pull from the cigarette WHILE you were lighting it, or it wouldn't catch. I still think that's dumb. I mean, it's paper wrapped around a bunch of dried leaves. It ought to burn pretty darn easily.

And so that day, when we wandered around and talked, we both smoked. When I thought about it, I couldn't figure out what the big deal was about smoking. Why did people do it, now that we knew how awful it was for your health? It wasn't particularly interesting or enjoyable. I could've had just as much fun making a blade-of-grass whistle between my thumbs. So, the next time she offered a smoke, I said "no thanks." I knew smoking could be addictive, and I figured I didn't want to get addicted to something so pointless.

By the time I was in college, I knew lots of people who smoked. Nobody offered me a cigarette. I guess they figure that everyone's had the offer and made decisions and whatnot. Anyway, so one time, I saw this guy blow the smoke out THROUGH HIS NOSE. He looked like a dragon. And dragons are cool. It was sooo neato! I just couldn't help staring. (It didn't hurt that the guy was cute.)

So finally I said, "How do you DO that?!"

He kind of grinned, and said, "It's easy. You just breathe out through your nose."

He gave me a cigarette from his pack, and I tried it. Lit the cig (knew how to do that now!) ... took a pull ... breathed out through my nose.

Nothing happened. Well, nothing but air. I frowned, and he was now grinning at ME. He managed not to laugh when he explained that you actually had to take the pull and then breathe in AGAIN to get the smoke into your lungs.

So THAT was what Clinton meant by "I didn't inhale." Aha.

I tried again. This time, I breathed out first, making sure I mostly-emptied my lungs. And then I took a drag from the cigarette, and then breathed in again. Wow. Things definitely felt different. The smoke burned going down my throat, kind of the way the first sip of a carbonated beverage does. And when I breathed out through my nose, SMOKE CAME OUT! Wow! I happydanced.

THAT made people laugh at me. But I didn't care. I had a NEW TOY. Look at me! I am a DRAGON. Rar. It was fun. That one cigarette made my entire evening.

On the other hand, it wasn't enough to get me to buy my own. I hate the way the smoke coats your teeth. I hate the way the smell clings to your hair and clothes - it's the one thing I really don't like about going dancing. I feel so gross when I get back, like there's a layer of dirt on me. (Which I guess describes it pretty well.) But worst of all - and I think this doesn't bother most people, which is weird - I can't stand the taste of the paper. Smoke or no smoke, the cigarette itself just TASTES bad.

So anyway, on Friday and Saturday nights when we got together, I'd bum a smoke off of someone... I made sure to avoid asking the same person very often, but pretty much everyone else smoked, so that was fairly easy.

I never felt like I wanted more than one. It'd last me awhile, I'd do the cool-fun nose thing... sometimes do puffs and go "look, I'm a train!" It was fun, and silly. But there were games to play and movies to see, so one was plenty. Sometimes I'd have one on Friday, and one on Saturday.

Since I graduated, I've moved... I don't know very many smokers at all, and the only one I do know well would accuse me of being a mooch if I asked for ONE. ;p Plus, well, I have a husband now, and I want him to think well of me. He doesn't smoke, and doesn't find it particularly alluring... so I don't smoke. Kind of like... I think onions are gross, so he avoids eating them.

Getting kisses is way better than getting smokes!


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