The Smoke Team

(by anonymous6, 23 March 2002)


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The Smoke Team

Janice Walker was fuming mad.  She had just come home after receiving a phone
call from her daughter's school.  It seemed her fifteen year-old daughter had
been caught smoking on school grounds again.  Her rage was building to where
she thought she would explode.  She was not mad at her daughter though, but at
the school for its moronic policies.  Having been a young smoker herself,
Janice was a huge advocate for underage smoking rights.  Chaining into another
of her More 120's she began to calm down, but she knew something had to be
done.

Cindy Walker was sitting in the living room with some friends when her mom
entered.  She could see the rage in her mother's eyes.  Janice scanned the
room full of smoking girls, and began to calm down.  Whenever she felt the
world was going to hell in a hand basket, the image of young people smoking
always made her realize that wasn't so.  Cindy began to apologize to her
mother for the latest incident, but her mother would have nothing of it, after
all it wasn't her fault.  The conversation soon changed, but inside Janice was
still fuming.

The following morning Janice was taking her daughter to school.  Parking
across from the school they each lit one more cigarette, as was their ritual.
It was more than a moment for a final cigarette; it was a chance for them to
show kids that smoking was ok and that some parents supported it.  The looks
of passing kids were that of surprise and envy, everyone knew Cindy from her
modeling career and she was looked to as a role model.  This drew a lot of
distain from certain parents and faculty but they needed to learn to deal with
it.  As Janice began to pull away she noticed a sign to her left, and she knew
the answer to her problems had revealed itself.

Janice felt a great sense of pride as she removed the "For Sale" sign from her
new house.  It wasn't exactly her house, but her gift to the smokers of the
school.  She built a large fence around the property and added a
keypad-controlled gate.  This was to be a safe house, a house where kids could
come and smoke between classes or lunch.  Janice and Cindy controlled who had
access to the "smoke house", but it was generally limited to girls.  Janice
had a closed-circuit monitoring system installed so she could monitor
happenings via the Internet.  Other than a few problems with skipping
everything went smoothly, and Janice felt she had done the world a great
service.

One afternoon Janice stopped by the house to re-supply it with cigarettes.
Although she didn't really have to, she felt it was her duty to keep the house
stocked with every brand imaginable.  Several of the girls were having a smoke
ring competition, many of them just learning how to do it.  Janice lit a fresh
More and began a demonstration of how to accomplish the perfect ring.  She
found the girls were always competing with different techniques and had
branded themselves "The Smoke Team", since they usually gathered after school
while other student teams were practicing.  The girls casually joked that they
wanted to get their letter in smoking, and Janice saw no reason why they
couldn't.

Janice was moderately wealthy and she always despised those with wealth who
didn't "give something back", and she could think of no more positive way to
spend hers than in support of young smokers.  She acquired the services of a
very prominent designer to have a stylish and original jacket made. The school
only loosely controlled lettermen's jackets.  Many non-official school teams
such as bowling and golf would wear the jackets, and each team had its own
criteria for earning one.  Janice and Cindy soon came up with what was
required for team members to earn their letter.  They didn't want it to be
automatic, but have at least a goal attached.  They soon decided that if a
girl smoked an average of a pack a day she could make the Varsity Squad.

The team met for practice every afternoon, trying to master different tricks.
Janice decided to add more achievements for the girls to strive for.  She had
pins made to add to their letters.  Each pin was pure gold or silver,
depending on the mastery of the skill the girl had acquired.  Pins were made
for French inhales, holders, rings, pipes, and cigars, just to name a few.
Each girl was also given a patch for each brand of cigarette they had smoked
(at least a pack), and they were worn down the arm of each sleeve.

Word of the Smoke Team quickly spread throughout the community.  Local news
organizations soon put a negative spin on the story, and the meetings had to
move from the house. The national press picked up the story as well.  Janice
became the outspoken spokes-person for the team constantly defending the team.
Parents and reporters were accosting the girls at school, but there were
positive results as well.

A dark blue Mercedes pulled into the Walker driveway.  Janice immediately went
outside to ward off this presumed reporter or parent.  Her demeanor quickly
changed when she saw a woman in her 60's exit, smoking a Sherman MCD in a
small holder. She went from a posture of confrontation to welcome and greeted
the woman.  The two women stood on the lawn chatting, all the while being
watched by the girls inside.  Janice soon welcomed the woman inside where she
could meet the girls.  Her name was Mrs. Cogburn and she had wonderful news
for the team.

Mrs. Cogburn was visibly quite wealthy by her jewels and expensive clothing.
She told the girls she was proud to see their accomplishment in starting the
team and it made her once again proud to live our community.  She was a long
time resident and had attended the same school as the girls.  Through her
friends she had been made aware of several other smoking teams springing up
around the nation, and she wanted to sponsor the team.  She offered to
purchase a bus conversion for nearby competitions, and pay for rooms and food.
Competitions would be arranged against other teams and would require lots of
practice by the girls.  Each girl would participate in one or two
"specialties" each competing against girls her own age.  Mrs. Cogburn offered
to bring in outside trainers to get the girls in their best form.  She
desperately wanted her alma mater to become known for it's smoking team, along
with its already winning sports teams.

The girls were excited about their first competition.  In the month it took to
arrange a schedule and standardized rules, the girls learned of many such
teams springing up around the nation.  Every school with a team made the girls
their target to beat; with all of their exposure they were the de facto
champions.  Their first competition was against a school in a neighboring
town.  Each girl had spent many hours of practice and conditioning in their
respective events.  The other team was small and hadn't had the practice time
of the girls; they all won their events.

Their next competition wouldn't be so easy; Sheltonville was known to have
devoted itself to dethrone the girls.  Practice that week was hard; every free
moment was spent practicing.  Upon boarding the bus for the two-hour trip the
girls were greeted by a group of 10-12 year-olds already onboard.  Mrs.
Cogburn informed them that this was the team's junior squad.  Apparently a
group of parents had been training them for months, and unbeknownst the girls
Sheltonville had a powerful junior squad itself.  The competition was fierce,
and not all the girls won their events, but they finished as the overall
champions.

Over the course of the year the girls attended competitions 1-2 a week during
the school year and 5-7 during the summer.  The competitions had evolved
beyond mere tricks into a rather complex competition.  Each team now had at
least one "power smoker" who had to show up early and would be gauged on how
much they smoked in a 12-hour period.  There were also awards for overall
style and glamour.  Also added were a decathlon and octathlon where girls
without a specific specialty could use a blend of their talents.  Overall both
the junior and senior squads beat every challenger, each girl loosing at least
once, but that made them practice even harder for the next meet.

With the years season over the girls were glad to be home.  Nearly a month
after finishing their tour of the nation Mrs. Cogburn came to them with
wonderful news.  A group of judges had selected the entire team to compete in
an international competition in Spain.  Dubbed the "Smoking Olympics" it would
put the girls up against the best in the world.  Training would be minimal as
the event was only a week away, but the girls had kept in condition and needed
little practice.  Mrs. Cogburn and her husband owned their own 737 and the
girls would travel in style.  Accompanying both the junior and senior squads
were several girls in the 6-10 year old range, apparently the Europeans had
some real ringers in those categories.  After stopping in a dozen or so towns
to pick up more U.S. representatives that the girls had competed (and lost)
against.  These former competitors now became teammates and helped each other
train on the flight.

The girls faired very well in the competitions, even the junior squad against
the ever-smoke conscious Europeans.  The awards ceremony brought all the
competitors into a huge stadium.  Unlike the states, the room was filled with
press, covering the event in a positive light.  Awards were given out with the
winners receiving either a gold, silver, or bronze cigarette holder, cigarette
case, and lighter.  The American girls won many of the awards and were the
overall medal winners of the competition.  After the event awards several
special awards were also given.  There was a Swedish girl who received one for
taking her right to smoke all the way to her country's supreme court.  An
American couple that posted their pre-teen smokers, along with themselves, on
the Internet also received an award for positive portrayal.  But it was the
final awards took the girls by surprise.

The president of the International Youth Smoking Organization (IYSO) was
called to the podium. The girls had only recently heard of the organization,
but the were the sponsors of their competitions.  The girls couldn't see the
president at first, but when they did they were quite surprised.  There at the
podium stood Mrs. Cogburn, apparently she had formed the organization shortly
after their first competitions. She was there to present an award for the
inspiration to create the competitions.  The team was elated to find that they
were the recipients.  Making their way forward to the stage, among a standing
ovation, the girls all broke into tears.  This was an award that no medal for
technique or style could match.

The final award was yet another surprise. Initially called the award of merit,
it would henceforth be called the Janice Walker award.  In a show of
admiration for her forming of the first smoke team, and the positive influence
it had on other young smokers, Janice was awarded the highest honor. Mrs.
Cogburn went on to commend her for, through the formation of the team,
keeping smoking fun. Although she began her journey as a crusade for the
rights of teens, the award was no less fulfilling.  The thought that her name
would be forever immortalized with a great award of moral accomplishment, like
Alfred Nobel, was greater than anything she could ask for.  Upon reaching the
podium she was speechless, and unable to seize the moment she only broke down
in tears.

The flight home was filled with triumph.  Every girl proudly wore a new patch
commemorating her participation in the international finals.  This would
though be the last trip with the team for several of the girls, they would
soon be headed to college.  Mrs. Cogburn had wonderful news for them though.
She and the IYSO would provide them with full-ride scholarships, dependant on
two conditions.  First, the girls were to mentor the local smoke team to
provide coaching and inspiration.  Second, they were to form a collegiate
competition, in order to keep the sport active for older girls.  The prospect
of continuing their training and competition greatly lifted the girl's
spirits, and thus their camaraderie and devotion to the sport could continue
on.


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