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?