They Belong to My Mom

(by Oldie and Better, 11 August 2002)

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They belong to my mom
By Oldie and Better

Priscilla Benedict seemed to have the world by the tail on that morning in 
May. She had been on the job as church secretary for about a hour that 
Thursday when the high school called.
"Mrs. Benedict," Phoebe Gates, one of the assistant principals said, "we're 
found a pack of cigarettes on the front seat of your daughters car and she 
says the are yours. Since we consider that highly unlikely, we thought we 
would inform you that if your daughter does not come up with a very good 
explanation, she will be kicked off the cheerleading squad."
Priscilla's daughter Amy was completing her sophomore year in high school. 
She had just been elected cheerleader for the upcoming year and was given a 
new car for her 16th birthday a month ago.
Priscilla, cleared her throat, trying to think of a graceful way to get Amy 
out of hot water and save her position as cheerleader.
"What brand are they she asked," stalling for time. "Marlboro Reds," said 
Mrs. Gates in a knowing tone. "Well, that's my brand," Priscilla said in a 
muffled tone so that Pastor Jerome Parrish would not hear her.
The starled Mrs. Gates seemed to offer a gulp in response. "Well," she said, 
"if that the case, she and you or her father will have to talk to Mr. 
Champion tomorrow. He's not here today but we have appointments available 
tomorrow morning."
"Okay," Priscilla said, "can we make it 11:30 tomorrow."
"Sure," Mrs. Gates said. "I'm sorry to have to bring this up. I hope this 
hasn't embarrassed you."
"Well okay, thanks," Priscilla said, not meaning a word she said.
She hung up the phone in a startled state. Who should she turn to? The 
church secretary of the leading church in town had to admit to smoking to 
Mr. Champion, a member of the church's board, in order to order to get her 
daughter off the hook.
She thought about calling her husband, Boynton, in Chicago where he was 
presenting a motivitational clinic. She thought about talking to her pastor, 
Dudley Doright or even better his newest wife Denise. She thought about 
calling her brother Luke Paulson, a pastor of an even larger church less 
than an hour away.
She thought that she had suspected Amy of smoking ever since she spent some 
time with her cousins, Luke and LeAnn's college daughters. She needed to go 
to the bank and would stop off at home for a minute and call LeAnn and find 
out what was happening.
LeAnn was non-committal about what went during Amy's visit but promised to 
meet her at a restaurant about halfway between the locations. Priscilla 
secured the additional time.
Hook seemed to be the operative word. Perhaps she should get addicted to get 
her daughter off the hook. Perhaps, LeAnn would have some incite.
The timing was perfect. They arrived in the parking lot at the same time. 
LeAnn asked for smoking to the surprise of Priscilla. As soon as they were 
seated, LeAnn put the packs on the table.
So, what brand do you smoke? LeAnn asked. The amused Priscilla giggled as 
she looked at the packs of Marlboro Lights, Newports, B&H regular and 
Virginia Slims Menthol, and said "none of those. They found a pack of 
Marlboro Reds in her car."
LeAnn reached in her purse of produced an open pack of Marlboro Reds. She 
offered one to Priscilla and lit up. "You smoke," the amazed Priscilla said.
"Can you believe this," LeAnn said. "I quit when Like and I started going 
together. I made 23 years. Can you believe that. The girls got me restarted 
at spring break. I suspect they got Amy started, too."
"Me, too," Priscilla said.
"So," LeAnn asked, "what do you do. Tell them you started smoking. Tell them 
you restarted smoking or tell them they belong to Amy and let her hang.
Priscilla put the cigarette in her hand as if ready to light it. "If I say I 
restarted, I would have to look accomplished in a hurry. If I say I just 
started, a lot less would be expected of me," she said as she put the 
cigarette to her lips.
Priscilla lit the cigarette and excelled a small amount of smoke. She drew 
in a little more smoke to keep her cigarette lit. She coughed a little. The 
server approached and jokingly asked if she had been smoking long. Priscilla 
took another drag and lot some of the smoke out as she talked saying, "this 
is my first one ever."
"There's hope for my wife then," the 20ish waiter said.
Priscilla continued to smoke her cigarette. She had another after eating her 
cheeseburger basket. She was amazed at the smoking world she suddenly found 
herself in.
Then she observed that she better get back to the real world.
"Here, take the Reds to make the story good," LeAnn said. "Take the Marlboro 
Lights to be more comfortable while you learn to enjoy smoking."
Priscilla rushed back to work about 20 minutes late. She sat down and opened 
up her computer only to have Pastor Doright lean over in her face.
"How am I going to counsel you on quitting smoking when you haven't 
started," the pastor said.
"So, you know," replied Priscilla.
"Yes," Mr. Champion got the word and he called me. "I said I suspected as 
much and would try to help you quit when you are ready. He said skip the 
hearing. With my confirmation, he said he would accept the story and simply 
give Amy a warning. Your meeting will not be necessary."
Priscilla thought for a minute and replied. "So, my is off the hook as long 
as I get hooked?"
"Well, you just need to go through the motions of being a smoker and then 
quit. Amy must stop. Your job is not in jeapordy no matter what decision you 
make. So, get your work done so you can get home when Amy comes home and 
have a heart-to-heart with her."
Priscilla got a call before leaving from the local auto body shop. They said 
to tell the pastor's daughter the car would be ready about 6 p.m. Pastor 
Doright saw where the call came from and came back to Priscilla's desk.
"I know about that, too," the Pastor said. "It's okay," he said. "She has to 
learn to pay attention. There was little damage and no harm."
Priscilla lit a Marlboro Light as soon as she left the church office. She 
lit another as Amy drove up about five minutes later than expected.
"Is is true, I was just making it all up," Amy said. "It wasn't true then," 
Priscilla said, "but it may be now. I mother will do anything to protect her 
child," Priscilla said as she offered a cigarette to Amy.
"Mother, those were my cigarettes," Amy said.
"Who's bleeping cigarettes were they," Priscilla asked.
"Darla Doright's," Amy said. "I took her to school after she took her car to 
the shop. She was so shook about the little wreck she took her secret pack 
out of the gloove compartment and smoked two before we got to school."
"This is so ironic," Priscilla said as she stubbed out her cigarette. "You 
mean you don't smoke and did all this for nothing," she said.
"That's about right," Amy said. "Gosh, did you ever jump to conclusions."
"In a way, I feel like a fool," Priscilla said. "All I can say to you is 
never try your first cigarette," she said as she lit another. "It doesn't 
take much at all to get you addicted."

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