My First Cigarette

by Brenda on April 6, 2011

Growing up, smoking went hand and hand with the Coronas, wine, and music, which was followed by dancing, more drinks, and finally finishing off the night with a cigarette.   All the adults smoked. It never occurred to me to try it until one afternoon.   I was hiding inside the stall of the girl’s bathroom from two blonde twigs and eavesdropped on their conversation.

“Mom says it keeps her from eating. When she’s hungry she lights up.”

“Does it work? I mean does she lose weight?”

“You’ve seen my Mom; her bones are all she has…”

I left the stall an educated teen.  I wasn’t like the Cheer chicks; rather my body would have been perfect if Louie B. Mayer was still around and casting women for B movies.  I had curves, a Latin butt, thighs, and breasts that required an underwire bra.  I was a mere tween.  All my life I had coveted a body like those girls, all bones with no indentations.  I didn’t know back then that I lacked the genetic makeup to look like those girls, all I knew was I had to get my hands on a package of smokes, which for me would be as easy as stealing candy from a baby.

Mom smoked and her cartons sat on top of the fridge.  Uncle Ted, just home after a second tour in Nam, had cases of them on top of the turntable in his room.  Formerly my bedroom, but since he had served twice in NAM, and per my mom, ‘was an emotional basket case’, he moved in to my room after he was discharged.  I moved into to my kid sister’s room, much to her delight, but my horror.   I wasn’t too sure what was going on in my Uncle’s head, only that he had gotten jittery, drank a lot of hard liquor, had gotten mean, and smoked as much as he breathed.  There wasn’t a moment those first few months he was home when there wasn’t a cigarette hanging from between his lips, while another one burned in the ashtray.  Mom even made me go into his room at night after he passed out from too much drinking to check that all the cigarettes were out.

So, lifting a pack of smokes for the greater good–my body–was even easier than stealing candy.  I had my plan mapped out.  I’d wait for Mom to send me into my old room to check that Uncle Ted wasn’t trying to burn the house down, then I’d slipped a pack of Marlboro’s into the back of my 501′s, pull the blanket over Ted’s shrapnel scarred body, pick up the empty bottle of Jack Daniels off the floor, and skip out of my old room, smokes in hand.  I was that determined to take up smoking.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, in fact, it is hideous.

To light up I had to wait until I had the house to myself.  This meant, Mom and Dad had to be a work, Ted at the VA center for something, and the pesky tattletale sister needed to locked out of the house.  Since she was younger, her entire existence revolved around ratting me out and following me around.  I had to wait until she physically left the house so that I could lock all the doors and windows, including the dog door, so she couldn’t crawl in, before I could light up.

At last Nirvana, I was alone.  I laid flat on my back in the middle of the hallway, which shielded me from the prying eyes and screaming  little sister.  Once the pesky sister realized I had locked her out of the house she started banging on the windows.  In anticipation of this, I had the stereo volume at FULL blast to block out her yelps and threats.  Finally, I lit up a smoke and inhaled.  Several minutes later, after puking all over the avocado green shag carpeting in the hallway, and regaining normal breathing patterns, I flushed my dreams of a curve free body down the drain.

I didn’t have the perseverance to make it all the way the entire cigarette.  How about you, what was your first time like?  Did you enjoy it, keep it up, or get busted?  Do you still smoke?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer April 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

I love this — the description of the uncle is tragically funny.

I stole cigarettes from my grandfather (and also bought unfiltered clove cigarettes from the Smoke Shoppe in Wilmington, the same place where I got my British music magazines). But it never took — cigarettes made me sick (though not puke on the rug sick).

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Brenda April 6, 2011 at 10:15 am

Yeah, it wasn't my finest hour. I never smoked again, like you it never took. Yeah, Uncle Ted had a hard go of it after, but he turned out mostly OK.

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pam bono April 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

we smoked,at least purchased, those colored cigs at the puente hills mall. what was the name of that smoke shop a few doors down from the pet center? cigars too!!!

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Brenda April 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

WOMAN! I SO FORGOT, you are like a vein to that other part of me, yes, we did! We bought those colored cigs,, We were such delinquents back then. I gotta tell you I keep these secrets from my kids because I would never let them do the things we did….

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Cathy April 7, 2011 at 3:12 am

How very vivid and raw and how easily you've dragged me right back to that time in my own life, a time when I felt neither here no there, neither big-girl nor little-girl. I first smoked at the roller-skating rink on a Friday night in November when I was 13, right after I endured my sloppy first kiss from the guy – Donny – I'd been couples skating with. Neither the cig nor the kiss went well and I was happy for once to have to leave earlier than everyone else, though before I left the rink I crammed a quarter tube of toothpaste into my mouth to mask the smell of both the cigs and the boy, in anticipation of my silent ride home with my disapproving father.

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Brenda April 7, 2011 at 4:21 am

Dang, a double wammy. First kisses should pack a punch, so you can carry them around in your heart forever. A best friend reminded me after she read this post that we tried smoking colorful french type cigarettes. I had totally forgotten, clearly smoking and me never got along. Cathy, thanks coming by as often as you do, much appreciated.

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Jennifer O April 28, 2011 at 6:04 am

My freshman year of high school, I spend months hiding my mother's Virginia Slims and begging her to quit smoking. I told her that she would be the one to get lung cancer and I'd be an orphan. My pessimistic faith was so sure of this that I'd cry when I found her smoking. Bad things just seemed to happen to me. Lung cancer didn't seem so far off. Jenny, it calms me! she'd say. I would make a face at her and stalk away.

Over the years, I've had my own stolen moments with cigarettes. Mostly, they're Virginia Slims, but I have had the occasional Marlboro Light 100's, which always make me feel like I'm 18 again.

As my bad luck persists, I'm almost always caught by own daughters, who harangue me about the health implications,and so on and so forth. I angrily tell them it's none of their business.

My bad luck of having daughters just like me!

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Brenda April 28, 2011 at 7:03 am

Hi Jenny~ But of course, they are just like you – don't ya just hate it! :-) The circle of life. I never really got into smoking nor could I see the appeal after a while, but it does the complete the look: lanky dame holding a crystal cut glass of Scotch in one hand, smoke in the other hand with red lipstick on the tip… Oh to be that tough and carry off the look. Good think I write fiction. Thanks for coming by. I'm glad I found your blog today, felt a blogosphere connection.

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