Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

Have you ever been a smoker? ___Yes ___No
How often? For how long?

Whenever I see those questions on the heath survey you get at the doctor’s office, I never know how to answer. Technically, I did smoke cigarettes… when I was twelve. But does a few cigarettes a week or maybe a few more if I was with friends at Knott’s Berry Farm for the day actually count?

I started smoking to be “cool” of course. But there was nothing cool about that first time I tried it. My best friend Cynthia and I climbed up onto the platform that counted as our treehouse in my backyard one afternoon with our contraband. Back in the early 80s you could actually sneak into a restaurant and buy a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine. People either didn’t catch us or just looked the other way. And like many a Gen Xer, was also a latchkey kid. A great combination for getting up to no good.

We huddled over the pack of Marlboros and clumsily pulled one out. How are you supposed to hold this thing? I held the cigarette between my fingers trying to mimic what I’d seen in the movies, while Cynthia tried to strike the match. After a few failed attempts, we finally got a flame. Now, how to light the cigarette? I put it in between my lips and tried to take a puff. Blech, this thing tasted disgusting. I didn’t inhale long enough to get the thing to light.

“Jie jie! Jie jie!” It was my little brother…

I’ve run out of time. I’ll have to finish tomorrow.

  1. Lainie Levin says:

    I recognize this story.

    I actually had a few other friends who smoked – and this was also in junior high! – and I would smoke a cigarette every so often.

    I remember when a friend and I found a pack of cigarettes when we were on a spring break trip with her family. We would go out for walks and smoke a few of them at a time til we ran out.

    Which is pretty strange to me, because both my parents were heavy smokers, my mom especially. I spent my whole life trying to get her to quit. Why did I ever think that I’d want to try it? Ah well.

  2. arjeha says:

    My parents owned a bar that had a cigarette machine. I believe a pack was something like 35 cents. Did I try it? Yes. Am I a smoker? No way. I would rather spend the money on a good meal.

  3. pfornale says:

    This is all so familiar. Many of us have done this. Such a vivid scene of innocence not quite lost. Well done.

  4. […] don’t think it’s really fair to call this last bit of my story from yesterday a “part 2”. I was near the end already. Here it is […]

  5. I think you stole my story; it’s so familiar! My parents owned a liquor store and we had a machine right up front. My brother would steal coins from the register while I distracted my father. Before long, we were splitting a pack of Marlboro Reds!

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