How Easily We Forget

(by anonymous6, 06 August 2000)


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How easily we forget
By anonymous

Chris was eager to see her friend.  Betty had moved away some years ago, but
was now returning to her hometown.  The two of them had grown up together,
and had managed to keep in touch.  Chris thought it would be nice to have her
friend back, since they'd both recently been through divorce. 

Chris knocked on the door, and was greeted by Tina, Betty's 12-year-old
daughter.  She was shocked to notice that Tina was holding a cigarette.
Maybe she was just holding it for her mother, since her mother had smoked the
last time Chris saw her.  She followed Tina to the back porch, where Betty
sat, smoking a cigarette of her own. They greeted with a long hug, and sat in
the warm summer breeze.

"Did I see Tina smoking?" asked Chris

"Well of course" replied Betty. "Don't you let your daughter smoke?"

"Of course not, why would I let her do such a thing?"  Her reply was full of
disgust.

Betty gave Chris an odd look.  "Don't you remember when we were that age?"
"Don't you remember our pact to let our kids smoke?"

Chris thought back to her youth.  She and Betty were adamant smokers, and had
said they would make sure that they're kids weren't restricted from smoking.
The conversation was making her nervous, and she reached for her own
cigarettes.  "But we were just kids talking, not knowing what we were
saying."

"And what makes our kids any different than we were at that age?"  "Don't you
remember how it drove a wedge between you and your parents, and how you got
closer to your Aunt because she let you smoke?"

"But we didn't understand the impact of what we were doing, we were just damn
kids!"  Chris' reply was sharp, she felt cornered by her friend.

"Of course we understood it."  "When your Great Grandmother died, your
cigarettes kept you calm."  "Our kids today need cigarettes more than ever,
with all the pressures given them."  "You'll never find my daughter walking
into school with a gun."  "I can't believe you've forgotten what it was like
to be that age."  "You've taken that horrible parental double-standard of do
as I say, not as I did." Betty hoped to bring her friends memory back to her
childhood.

Maybe it wasn't so bad, thought Chris, what real harm could one or two
cigarettes a day do?  "Have you put restrictions to Tina's smoking?"  She was
searching for some middle ground.

"Of course I do, a pack a day."  "Don't you remember any of what we talked
about as kids?" 

Chris once again looked shocked.  "You mean she can actually smoke a whole
pack in a day?"

Betty took a long drag, and looked oddly at her friend. "Well of course she
can, in fact she usually smokes closer to two per day."

Confusion gripped Chris.  "I though you said you limited her to a pack a
day?"

Betty could barely see the girl she'd grown up with.  Could she actually
forget all that they had said when they were younger?  Had her friend lost
all the morals she gained at that age?  "How easily we forget."  "We said we
would make sure our kids smoked at least a pack a day."  "I'm proud of my
daughter for understanding the rules, and taking to them so well."

Rage filled Chris,  "You're proud of her for thinking she's an adult by
smoking?"

That hit a sore spot with Betty.  "Smoking had absolutely nothing to do with
age or being an adult!" "Are you saying that we thought we were adults at
that age?"

There was that corner again, Chris felt herself backed into it. "Well I-."
She had no response, and she took a hard drag on her cigarette.

Just then Tina walked up to the table, and snubbed out her cigarette.  "Can I
have a cigarette mommy?" Betty looked at her daughter with scorn. "How many
years have I been telling you young lady?"  "Smoking is not something you ask
to do, you just do it."  "My cigarettes are your cigarettes, just take one."  

Tina accepted a light from her mother, then spoke through her exhale.  "When
do I get to smoke with Shelly?" she asked referring to Chris' daughter.

Betty took a very motherly tone with her daughter.  "I'm afraid you won't be
able to hon,  my friend has changed."  "She doesn't love her daughter as much
as I thought she would."

"Now that's not fair, and totally uncalled for!"  Chris stood and prepared to
walk out.

"Well that is exactly what we said about our parents, and your aunt agreed!"
"Hell Chris, we said that every single day of our teen years!"  Betty's tone
was very matter of fact.

Chris sat back down and started to cry.  She couldn't give a logical
explanation for her change.  Her impulse was to equate it with being an
adult, but she knew that didn't make sense.  She had just forgotten what it
was like to be a kid.  Her friend knew how to calm her, and offered her
another cigarette.

The conversation then shifted, and they talked about there lost time.  Betty
pulled out a few photo albums.  They caught up each other's marriages,
divorces, and friends.   One album was all pictures of Tina, and she seemed
to be smoking from birth on.  Betty explained that smoking was never a
forbidden pleasure, it was just something that was a given.  The only thing
that was looked down on was non-smokers.  Chris was begging to feel more at
home with her old friend.

Later that night Chris was laying in bed, remembering more of her wonderful
youth.  She began to feel horrible, had she been such an awful mother?  Her
sleep that night was filled with nightmares, in all of them she was 12 again,
and not allowed to smoke.  She got very little sleep that night,  and she
knew she would have to do something about the intense guilt she felt.  She
lit up a cigarette and wondered what to do.  As she took a deep drag, she
thought of how wonderful the smoke was, just as wonderful as when she was a
kid.  How easily we forget she thought.


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