Baby Boomer

(by, 28 July 1996)

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Date: Sun, 28 Jul 1996 06:06:24 UTC
Subject: Story

Here's a little story for your web site. Not much fiction, really. Hope
you enjoy.

"Baby Boomer"

	I was the product of the "baby boom", that period after the second
world war when they men came home and began their families. My earliest
recollections of smoking must have been around the age of four or so--I
remember being at a birthday party for the daughter of a friend of my
mother. My mother smoked, my father smoked, and all of their friends
smoked. Looking back on it now, I can recall not a single individual
within the broad base of friends who did not smoke. At the party, i
remember specifically that my mom's friend was sitting in the living
room, nursing a Pall Mall, when she put it down to take care of a
problem in the other room. We all followed her in there, and very
quickly lit another. Thinking this was odd, I returned to the other
room, picked up her smoldering cigarette, and took it to her, saying
something as to remind her that she already had one going. The look on
her face was odd at the time. I was too young to understand her horror
of seeing a four year old with a cigarette. No, I hadn't smoked it nor
had I really thought of doing so, but handling the burning object didn't
seem unappealing either. 
	I was soon thereafter that we moved to a new home, and my mom quickly
found a friend in Cornelia, the lady next door. Her husband worked for
the state highway department, drank quite a bit when he was home, and
had forbidden his wife to smoke, at least at home. For Cornelia, my
mom's arrival was a godsend. Cornelia really loved to smoke, but she was
not at that time addicted to the nicotine. She just didn't have the
opportunities to smoke on a regular basis to develop the habit. The two
ladies struck up a good friendship, and this included Cornelia coming
over to the house each afternoon for a little break. I was now in
school, and always doing my homework at the kitchen table with my mom
there to help. The smoke cloud from her cigarette was always pretty
dense, and now at the age of six, I was accustomed to the smell, and
could distinguish between brands and whether the smoke was 'used' or had
come from one smoldering in an ash tray. Cornelia liked to join us at
that table, and she would often bring with her some unusual type of
cigarette that I had never seen before. Sometimes they were in small
metal boxes, sometimes long--many different variations, but as the year
went on, her enjoyment of smoking turned to addiction, and it was quite
apparent that she looked forward very much to this afternoon get
together. I suppose the singular reason her memory is so vivid is her
smoking style. Today, I know she was French inhaling the smoke, but then
I was just fascinated to watch her take a long puff, lean her head back
a bit, raise her upper lip a bit to allow the smoke to flow out, and
then inhale the escaping flow through her nose, taking an emmense amount
of air and smoke into her lungs. Holding it but a moment, she would then
exhale deeply, with first a plume of smoke from her mouth emerging in a
large cloud, followed by a steady stream of smoke from deep within her
lungs. She never indicated to me or my mom that she noticed that I was
watching her, but perhaps she truly never had noticed. After all, I was
sitting only 2 feet from her each afternoon, and as I studied my math
problems, and was also getting a clinic on how to smoke.
	My mom was a heavy smoker. Another friend, Martha, the wife of a fellow
who worked with my dad, eventually convinced her that she ought to
switch to a filter cigarette like hers. There was some talk that those
unfiltered ones might not be real good for your, and the filter tips
made smoking ever so much safer. They were so much better. Martha
explained that she didn't have to pick bits of tobacco out of her mouth
any more, they tasted great, and they satisfied her need to smoke. So,
OK, my mom would try them. She did and the change stuck. The filter kept
the tobacco out of her mouth alright, but it also cut down on the
nicotine getting to her lungs, so now at the age of seven, I noticed my
mom smoking even more than before, and having to relearn how to draw and
	The laundry was in the garage, a separate building behind the house.
Mom needed to go out and load laundry, and then return later for the
dryer. Each trip would take several minutes and was fairly predictable.
She would usually light a cigarette, take two drags, but it in an ash
tray. The ash tray was unique in that it was constructed of a metal pan
with a large spring encircling the perimeter to hold the cigarette. She
would put the ash tray on the counter in the kitchen, and then go out to
take care of the next laundry activity, allowing the cigarette to sit
and smolder. Rarely did she take it with her to the garage. This
afternoon, she was sitting with me at the kitchen table reading the
paper. I was now seven and doing well in school, but still had homework,
which I was working at quietly. Her timer went off indicating it was
time to move the clothes to the dryer. She lit her cigarette and clipped
it into the spring on her ash tray, but this time, she left it on the
kitchen table, not a foot from my hand, and went out. I could hear her
foot steps disappear and my heart began to race, because I was curious
about this smoking thing, and this was too good an opportunity to pass
by.  I leaned over just a bit to reach the tip which was hanging over
the end of the table. Without moving the cigarette from the ashtray I
placed my lips on the end of the tip and sucked gently. The ash glowed
bright orange and I could taste the smoke in my mouth. Probably not much
smoke. I inhaled deeply before I could think about the taste as I had
seen my mom and Cornelia do countless times. Exhaling, I found myself
feeling a bit odd, perhaps dizzy, but I stood up and strained to see
where my mom was--still in the garage. I sat down and leaned back into
the cigarette for a more substantive puff, making sure not to disturb
the position of the cigarette in the ash tray. Inhaling, I could feel
the smoke doing its thing in my lungs, and it occurred to me that it
tasted so much different than it smelled. I exhaled up toward the
ceiling, hoping the smoke would blend into what was already there and
went back to my studies, not paying much attention now to what I was
doing. Within a minute the nicotine kicked in and I felt hot and clammy,
breaking a bit of a sweat and feeling amazingly energized. Those first
puffs tasted terrible but the buzz I got convinced me that all these big
people around me had the right idea.
	Cigarettes were everywhere. My parents kept a drawer in the kitchen
reserved for cigarettes and matches. My dad would grab a pack on his way
to work in the morning, but my mom always kept an open pack on the
kitchen counter. She usually kept a pack in the main bathroom, and
always a pack in her house coat that she enjoyed wearing in the mornings
for a couple of hours, not to mention those in her purse. Since closet
space was at a premium, many of her clothes lived in my bedroom closet,
including that housecoat. Cornelia would come over in the afternoons
almost daily for a cigarette, and if she didn't have any which was
frequently the case, she would smile at my mom, ask if she could bum one
with a knowing look on her face, and proceed to sit through three or
four until her cravings had subsided, and then return home in time to
get dinner ready for her husband. My mom was more than happy to support
Cornelia's habit--she provided some quality adult contact that otherwise
was lacking in her day. So, stealing a cigarette here and there was not
out of the question, but finding a time and place to smoke it was a bit
more difficult. At the age of seven, the best I could do late at night
was try to stay awake long enough to be able to get into the closet and
fish through the house coat pocket for the pack, get a cigarette, and
then suck on the unlit tube, pretending I was a smoker, and when
finished, return it to the pack. But oh those trips to the garage to do
the laundry. The machine was small and it took at least one load every
day to keep things clean, and sometimes my father's work clothes didn't
come clean the first time. I made a point to be around. The basket of
laundry would show up near the back door, I would listen for the click
of her new Zippo, and then the metal ash tray on the tiled counter top.
This meant that she had her two drags, had pushed the cigarette into the
spring, and was on her way out the door. Not missing an opportunity, I
darted in, double checked the window, and then was back at the counter.
Just about the right height to place my lips on the cigarette and take a
pull. I had now improved my technique to include putting a finger on top
to hold the cigarette in place, and this allowed for deeper, longer
	When I was eight, my mom took a part time job selling cosmetics. That
summer she was gone quite a bit during the day. The laundry schedule was
shifted into the evening when my dad was home. No more clandestine puffs
from my mom's cigarettes. I don't think I was hooked on nicotine back in
those days, but I had come to look forward to a few drags in the
afternoon--perhaps it was the danger of being caught, and I had long ago
lost the feeling that tobacco smoke was at all disagreeable. None of my
girlfriends smoked to my knowledge and I had never mentioned it to any
of them either. Being alone in the house was too much of a temptation
not to take advantage of the situation. I had my choice--the pack on the
kitchen counter was half full, as was the pack in the house coat. I
decided to go directly to the bathroom, lock myself in, and let it fly.
Opening the drawer and reaching in for the pack I found it nearly full.
I took one out and returned the rest to exactly the right place, took a
match and lit up. I'd never had a first puff before, and I still recall
how good it made me feel. The smoke in my lungs made me feel so good and
quickly took the edge off the tension I felt from what I was doing
behind my parents' backs. Another deep puff and inhale, holding it as
long as I could, just like mom. Then a big puff and breathed in through
my nose just like Cornelia--well at least I tried.  It wasn't until the
fourth or fifth puff that I began to feel light headed, just like I had
a year prior. Hey, it was really cool. I blew the smoke out the window
and flushed the butt.
	The phone rang. It was my mom. She wanted to know if I was alright, and
wanted to let me know that something had come up and she was going to be
a couple more hours. It had been nearly an hour since that first
cigarette.  I didn't feel like I needed one, but smoking was fun to do,
I was bored, and I had two hours at least, so this time I just grabbed
one out of the pack on the kitchen counter, went out to the patio where
no one could see or hear me and lit another cigarette. This tasted
better to me this time and I smoked it a little more leisurely. Back
into the house and a bit later the phone rang again--this time it was
Vera, the neighbor on the other side of our house. She needed to talk to
mom. Telling her she wasn't home and hadn't been for a couple hours, she
said, "hum, odd, I thought I smelled her cigarette smoke a little while
ago."  I took note of this for future reference. 
	The next day my mom left early in the morning, said she would call and
check on me at noon, and would be home by three. She left me sitting in
front of the TV set, but as she went out to the car my mind drifted to
the cigarettes scattered about the house. I watched cautiously as my mom
started the car and then lit her cigarette as the Buick warmed up. She
wasn't fully out of the driveway before I had a cigarette in my hand,
and as she drove away I was striking a match. Thinking back now, I was
pretty gutsy for an eight year old girl. I took the first three puffs
from that cigarette right there in the kitchen, blowing the smoke out
the window and making sure my mom wasn't coming back. Cornelia was home
next door. I could hear the sound of a radio coming from an open window,
and I wondered if she was smoking. She would never come over if my mom's
car wasn't in the drive, but her husband wasn't home either, so I
wondered if she had her cigarettes in the back yard, away from the
house. She needed to smoke all the time now and had gotten away from
those fancy odd ones and had settled on Commanders, a long unfiltered
cigarette that smelled more like a Camel. She was still frequently out
though and would come over when my mom was home and ask, "Can I bum just
one, I just HAVE TO HAVE a cigarette. My mom always obliged, frequently
giving her several to carry home. I still didn't understand this, but
was beginning to. I looked at my cigarette. It looked like it might have
one more good one in it so I placed it to my lips and tried something a
little different--sucking on the filter but also trying to capture the
side stream smoke and inhaling directly into my lungs, breathing in
everything I could. That last puff was strong and, yes, different. I ran
the butt under the faucet and put the it in the trash can, just like
mom.  I was feeling quite grown up. I could smoke all day if I wanted, I
could stay home all day alone. It was summer, and life went on forever.
There were more cigarettes around me than I could count, and I was in
heaven. Time for another cigarette. By Friday of that week, it had been
time for several more cigarettes. I looked at my parents smoking in the
evenings and wished I could join them. I had been sneaking puffs for now
about a year and a half, but they were so infrequent that I hadn't
worked it up to the point where I would feel withdrawal symptoms.
Smoking perhaps eight or ten during the day when my mom was gone though
had changed things, and now I was feeling uncomfortable though I didn't
realize why. After dinner on Saturday night, my dad went out to the
garage to work on the car. My mom lit a cigarette in the kitchen and put
it down to run off to the bathroom to answer nature's call. There it
was. I wanted a puff and this was an opportunity. I leaned over by the
cigarette, tip hanging over the edge of the table, and took a good puff,
inhaled, and holding it, got up from the table and walked casually into
my bedroom before I exhaled. Oh, that was it! I felt the nicotine hit me
and as it did the uneasiness I had been experiencing also vanished. I
realized immediately that the cigarette smoke was what I was missing! I
was fine the rest of the evening but the next morning awoke and had the
same uncomfortable feeling about me again. Maybe this is what Cornelia
meant when she frequently said that she HAD TO HAVE a cigarette?
	I went smoke-free on that Sunday. Though my parents smoked continuously
I was without, and trying to sit and inhale the side stream smoke
wafting downstream didn't do anything for me at all. Monday began with
the same feelings that I was tense, nervous, and needing something to
fix it. My mom's schedule was going to be different today as well. Stay
home, do the laundry, catch up on her reading. Simple to handle I
thought. She collected the first basket full, stopped to light a
cigarette, paused a moment for the first drag to work its magic, exhale
as she placed the cigarette to her lips for her second drag,inhale, put
the cigarette in the ash tray on the kitchen counter, grasp the handles
on the basket and out the door. Out of the chair at the table I hopped.
Five steps and leaning over I put my finger on the top of the cigarette
to hold it in place and took a good puff, watching the cigarette glow in
the ash tray. Without leaving it I cracked my lips just enough to inhale
my mouth's contents and took a second pull. With this then, I stood up
and inhaled deeply, and walked off into the other room to exhale.
Returning to the kitchen I noted my mom was still out in the garage and
then my attention refocused on the smoldering cigarette. That filter
sure looked pretty dirty now. I didn't understand why it got brown like
that. I thought of taking another puff because that first one had
helped, but it just didn't get the job done. I looked back and now she
was on her way back in. The TV was on, so I was paying attention to it
when she came in, picked up her cigarette, flicked the ash, and took a
couple good drags before crushing  it out. Well, so I was a little kid,
but I also knew that I needed a cigarette pretty bad. Since mom was
going to be home today, Cornelia would be over pretty soon after lunch
and if history was a good indicator, the two of them would sit around
the kitchen table and  smoke cigarettes until four o'clock or so when
Cornelia had to go get dinner ready. Where was I going to be? The TV was
in the back room with a small bathroom attached off to the side. This
was MY bathroom most of the time. I knew what to do. Back in my room I
picked up my favorite doll who had a large billowy skirt. Opening the
closet ever so quietly, and holding my doll, I reached for the pack of
cigarettes in the house coat, found it nearly full, and pulled out six
cigarettes and put them into the dolls dress. This was cool I thought.
Who will look in a doll for cigarettes? I clung to my doll until
Cornelia arrived, advised my mom that she was out of cigarettes, and
could she please have one. She was just dying for a cigarette. So this
was what it was like, huh? I was dying for a cigarette, too, but my mom
didn't know it and I didn't want her to find out either. I wandered back
into the back room, and then I needed to go potty and so did my doll.
	I was getting to be pretty big now, nearly nine, and smoking every day
though irregularly, when the opportunity presented itself. My parents
still didn't act like they suspected a thing. Still, cigarettes and
lighters everywhere, with my parents sharing various opened packs with
each other, Cornelia, and sometimes Vera, who would bum a couple if she
ran out in the afternoon. Her husband kept the money in the family, so
sometimes she didn't have change to buy a pack.
	There was a knock at the back door. It was Cornelia. I had just barely
heard the knock. I was in the back of the house finishing my morning
cigarette and had just taken a full drag and trashed the butt when I
heard the knock, exhaling as best I could. As I opened the door,
Cornelia said, "Sorry Robin, I know your mom isn't home to ask her but
I'm out of cigarettes and I was wondering...." then she paused a moment
and then asked, "Were you able to finish your cigarette?" "Huh?" I
asked.  She said that she noticed the steady little streams of smoke
coming from my nose as I stood breathing at the door. I was in trouble.
Nine year old don't smoke cigarettes, and they certainly don't do it
because they have to have the nicotine to function. "Your mother is
going to kill you, you know?" she asked. "Well, how long have you been
smoking?" "Almost two years," I replied. Her mouth dropped open for a
moment in disbelief. After a few moments she uttered, "I can't believe
this, I can't believe this. I came over here to bum a cigarette, and
here I am getting them from a nine year old smoker." She paused for a
moment. "I came over to borrow a pack of your mom's cigarettes. I still
need one, no I think now I really need one. Pull out a pack and let me
have them, and tell her when she gets home that I borrowed a pack. I
will pay her back tonight. In the mean time, you come with me next door.
This I have to see." I followed Cornelia over to her house. I knew it
was early in the day, my mom was due home at 4 o'clock, and life would
be hell for me from now on. Cornelia approached the front door of her
house and motioned for me to go around to the back and meet here there.
She walked through the house and emerged through the back door with a
lighter in her hand and unwrapping the fresh pack of cigarettes she had
just acquired. Without a word and quite hurriedly she pulled a cigarette
out and lit it, her cheeks drawing against the filter very hard.
Inhaling and taking another hard hit before the smoke had settled in her
lungs, she pulled her cigarette from her mouth, opened her mouth, and 
looking blissful, inhaled deeply and held the smoke for as long as she
could hold her breath. When she finally exhaled, only the lightest of
the smoke particles escaped, the heavier material having precipitated to
the lung tissue. She then handed her cigarette to me. "Robin, take a
puff the way you usually do. I want to see something here." I did, and
she did." 
"How much do you smoke, dear?" "I don't know, a puff here and there.
...Sometimes a whole cigarette." "You were home alone yesterday, right?
How many whole cigarettes did you smoke yesterday?" I thought for a
moment and began to use my fingers. "I'm not really sure, but maybe 7 or
8 I guess." "Do you smoke every day?" I was afraid to answer, and afraid
to lie. I figured I was dead meat any way I went. "Sorta'," I said.
"What do you mean?........What happens if you don't smoke?" "I don't let
that happen," I responded, and I saw a bit of horror on her face.  I
looked down. In my hand I saw the cigarette she had  handed me. I
offered it back but Cornelia declined, lighting another for herself, and
still standing there quietly as I self consciously took another little
puff and drag it in hard. Cornelia paused a very long time and then
said, "You need to go home now, and you shouldn't smoke at all, ever.
Tell your mom that I have a pack of her cigarettes, and I will be over
later to replace them. I need to think about this." I followed her
directions and went home. Going to the bathroom, I lit another cigarette
and pulled at it harder than I ever had, hoping for a nicotine rush and
buzz--something I didn't get anymore it seemed. I thought that this
might be the last time as well and I wanted it to be memorable. After
all, the evening was sure to be memorable. My mom got home about four,
right on schedule, and by 4:30  Cornelia had arrived for her afternoon
cigarette break and with her she brought that replacement pack. Well
this was it. Cornelia was going to tell Mom that she had caught this
little nine year old smoking. The two women sat down at the kitchen
table, lit up immediately, and as Cornelia was taking her first drag,
her eyes wandered over to mine--I was standing in the doorway, waiting
for the hammer to fall. She opened her mouth, inhaled through her nose
as her head slowly tilted to the rear and with her exhale, her eyes
returned to mom. "I need to tell you something," she began. My heart
hesitated. "You know that Bob hates for me to smoke at home in the house
and once he even threw my cigarettes away when he had too much to drink.
If I gave you a few packs, would you mind keeping them over here? I
don't like to bum a smoke when I come over, but God, I have to smoke
cigarettes and I can't imagine ever being out. You know how it is?
You've had a few nicotine fits in your time, haven't you?" My mom
quickly agreed that she had many times and that she would be happy to
hold her cigarettes. The discussion went on other topics, and Cornelia
never told my mom that night about catching me smoking. Now, I really
needed a cigarette, REALLY needed a cigarette, NOW. It was time to go
play with my doll, in the bathroom. 
	As I awoke the next morning the first thing I thought of was having a
cigarette. Mom was in the kitchen getting ready for her day. She opened
her purse, got her cigarette pack out, housed in a black vinyl hard
case, and ran a finger in to see how many were there. Apparently it was
empty. She pulled it out, tossed the pack into the trash can, and
reached into the drawer for a fresh pack. Prepping her new pack, she
took the first one out, lit it, put her pack back in the top of her
purse, and she was off to the car for her day. A big smoky kiss and she
was out the door.  I was still trying to figure out what had happened,
or not happened the night before. I knew that I needed a cigarette, but
I figured that I ought to let her get out of the driveway. I'm not sure
why, but I thought I might want to take a closer look at that pack she
had just tossed. Picking it out of the trash I spied two cigarettes
remaining in the pack in the farthest corners. Apparently they were
stuck. They remained stuck for me as well and it took some strong
tapping to dislodge them, but, wow, two more cigarettes to smoke!  I
kept the near empty pack, grabbed a few from the counter pack, four or
five from the house coat pack, and put them in the dress of my doll. The
pack fit there just fine, and with the doll sitting in nearly any
position, one had to look for the pack to see it. Off to the bathroom
now to smoke a cigarette. It was wonderful.With each drag the aching in
my joints, the tension in my chest vanished. I counted the puffs this
time. Eight. I smoked it to the filter. I had learned to regulate the
nicotine level by the length of the drag, how deeply I inhaled and how
long I held the smoke. This morning, I was getting full use of this
cigarette. With the lit butt between my fingers, I extracted another and
lit it from the remains. I'd seen my dad do that from time to time. Man
this was good. My craving was for the moment satisfied but I was looking
for more this morning.  My day was going to change though in a short
	Cornelia was at the door. "Hi, Robin, can I come in?" I still wasn't
sure why she hadn't spilled the beans last night, but I wasn't going to
bring it up. "Robin, remember last night? I told your mom that I wanted
to leave some cigarettes over here so I can come over and have a
cigarette from time to time without Bob nagging me. Well here they are,
four packs, the same brand that you all smoke." She went on, "I thought
that since you were home, I'd just go ahead and bring them over." She
began to leave but hesitated. "You know, I haven't been able to smoke a
cigarette yet this morning? Bob just left for work and I am DYING for a
cigarette. Do you mind if I sit down here and have one before I go home?
I hate to smoke alone." Sure, I thought. She was an adult and a friend
of my mom. "Sure, Mom wouldn't mine." I said. Cornelia sat down, opened
one of her new packs she was leaving behind, and tapped one out so she
could pull it from the pack. Lighting it, she took one of her now famous
French inhales and exhaling looked at me and said, "Go ahead, I know you
are dying for a cigarette and I hate to smoke alone." "What if Mom comes
in?" Drop it in the ash tray and look as innocent as you truly are!" "I
asked, "Why didn't you tell Mom about this?" Cornelia was silent for a
very long moment and then responded, "I don't know. I debated about this
all day. If your answer to my question yesterday was an honest one, and
I believe it was, then you've been breathing these cancer sticks for
quite awhile and you probably can't quit even if you wanted to. After
all, your parents are around you all the time smoking, and they wouldn't
quit now on a bet.  It would be impossible for you to quit with them
smoking. Right?" I quickly agreed. "So if you smoke, I won't be the one
to tell your mother. You need to be the one to do that. Now, go ahead
before I have to leave. I hate to smoke alone." I cautiously reached for
her pack and lit a cigarette. She paid less attention to my smoking than
I had to her's through the years. She lit a second and I the same, not
that I needed it. I was no longer as keenly attentive to my smoking as I
had been a year ago, and puffed on my cigarette mechanically while my
mind wandered in thought about why Cornelia was doing this. We crushed
our cigarettes out together in the ash tray. "Tell your mom thanks for
letting me come over." as she darted out the door. "I really needed that
	I had to work something out about my smoking. Getting cigarettes had
never been a problem, and I thought that if it ever did, Cornelia might
just provide a safety net for me. But I had to have six cigarettes every
day, well spread, to avoid withdrawal, and finding the times was a
challenge. Months went by and my parents still didn't know that I was
smoking regularly now; making it through a school day was sheer hell.
They didn't miss any cigarettes. There could be 3 left in the counter
pack, and I could take 2 of them. My mom used her house coat pack at
times when she was nearly sleep walking, so I could take ten out of it
at any time and she wouldn't notice. As long as I left at least one
cigarette in a pack everything would be alright. She would always trash
an empty pack and replace it with a full fresh one, so I couldn't take
that last cig! 
	My friends were beginning to ask a few questions. I always smelled like
smoke but now I smelled like fresh smoke, even if I hadn't been around
my parents in hours. And I didn't want to hang out with them for very
long. I always had some chores at the house that had to be finished
before mom came in. Inhaling those 'chores' was always a pleasure.
	One afternoon, just past my tenth birthday, my mom was at the kitchen
table with a bunch of cosmetic stuff laid out in front of her. As I put
my school books down she said, "Robin, come here. I need your help. My
hands are all goopy here and I really need to smoke a cigarette." She
continued; she had my attention. "Reach in that pack there and get one
out and grab the matches, please?" I Complied. "Now, put it in my mouth,
won't you dear? And strike a match. I want you to take it out of my
mouth after I take a couple puffs. I can't hold it with these fingers!"
She held up her hands to show me. They were a mess, and I could really
understand what she meant about needing a cigarette. I complied fully,
putting the cigarette squarely in her mouth, struck a match and as I
raised it to her cigarette, she pulled gently, and I blew out the match.
Inhaling and then again dragging again, and saying "Ok," I reached for
the cigarette, and she exhaled and said thanks. I stood next to her with
a cigarette in my hand, and I couldn't take a puff. This had never
happened before, I hadn't had a cigarette since before leaving for
school this morning, and my skin was crawling, my chest hurt, and my
joints ached for the nicotine that was flowing from the tip. "Again,
please?" Mom asked as she was ready for another puff. This time I simply
held the cigarette to her face and she leaned in to it, just like I had
often done with the cigarette clipped in her ash tray.
	There was a knock at the door. "Would you mind getting that, please?
It's probably Cornelia. I answered the door. It was Cornelia, and as she
took a couple steps into the house and in full sight of both my mom and
me, she looked down at the cigarette I was holding in my hand and smiled
broadly. Sitting down in her usual chair and lighting the cigarette she
was getting out as she came through the door, she said to me, "Well,
Robin, I see you were finally able to tell your mom that you are a
smoker, huh?" There was an explanation here, both for Cornelia who
admitted she had known for a very long time, but refused to admit she
had seen me smoke more than once. I appreciated the lie, but it didn't
help me much. I admitted that I had been smoking for awhile, how long I
didn't disclose. I was sent to my room, and told to lock the door. They
needed to talk. That was fine by me, because I needed a cigarette really
bad at this point, so I went to my room, took the lighter and pack from
the house coat and sitting at the window chain smoked three cigarettes
before ever turning around. I was well into the fourth, thinking about
what would happen to me when the door opened suddenly. With Mom and
Cornelia standing in the doorway, there I sat with a cigarette in my
hand and my room a cloud of smoke. 
My mom told me to come out to the kitchen table and sit down. "What's
Dad going to do?" I asked. "He already knows. I just called him. He
isn't happy, Robin." "Cornelia tell me that she thinks she saw you with
a cigarette nearly a year ago. Have you been smoking cigarettes for a
year?" "Yeah," I said. "Maybe a little longer than that?" "Maybe," I
responded. "Do you smoke every day?" Mom asked. "Yup." Mom and Cornelia
lit cigarettes, and looking at each other in amazement and debated what
to do. 
	Finally, Mom looked at me and said, "Robin, honey, I smoke, and I know
that you smoke, but I don't approve and I don't want to see you do it. A
ten year old should never smoke. It is bad for you. But if you have to
smoke, do it somewhere that I can't see you. I can't stand to see my
little baby smoking a cigarette!" I didn't really understand this. Was
she saying it was alright to smoke, but do it out of sight? Cornelia
looked at me and said, "Robin, your mom and I need to talk about
something else. Why don't you go to your room and have a cigarette and
maybe get some of your homework done while we chat." I departed and
	From that day until I left home to attend college, I never smoked a
cigarette in front of my parents. They never bought cigarettes for me as
such, but there was always an ample supply. When we took road trips in
the van, I always found a fresh pack in the back seat, and I got used to
smoking in the back of bus, so to speak. With essentially no
restrictions I kept my habit to about a pack a day all through high
school, and although I had found a good spot to sneak a quick one at
school, I went through without ever being caught by the the nicotine
patrol. I was a member of the drill team my freshman year, and I really
thought I would enjoy it, but after one year, I dropped it. Only one
other girl would admit to smoking, and she only occasionally. We went to
a concert together once, but she couldn't keep up with me. I decided
that I would rather stay at home and smoke cigarettes than hang out with
the girls who didn't understand my needs.
	Cornelia still lives next door to my parents. She can French inhale
like no one else I've ever seen. I worked at it alot as a teenager but
never perfected it like Cornelia. I still try it for affect when in a
	I'm more concerned about my health now that I have some mileage on me.
I switched to a light 120 a couple of years ago, and I made a point to
pay attention to my daily consumption. I let myself go until I have some
serious cravings now before I light one, so I have cravings almost all
the time. But I know they aren't good for my body. I'd quit today if I
could; I haven't had a nicotine buzz in years. The last time I tried
intentionally, it just wouldn't come no matter how big the puff, how
deeply I inhaled, or how long I held the smoke in my lungs. I guess that
I am always on the brink of withdrawal. You'll pardon me now if I stop
typing for a bit. I need to stop now. I really need to smoke another
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