Dana, Part 1

(by dana, 27 December 1997)

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I love my cigarettes, but no one who knew me growing up in high 
school in my small hometown would ever think they would hear these words 
from me or believe it.  You see, I was the student body president, 
always on the honor roll, the head cheerleader, the roll model for any 
younger girl in town.  My parents were proud of their daughter for being 
 such a standout student and citizen.  I dated the most highly respected 
boys in school; my parents never had to worry about me getting home from 
a date later than they said to be home.  Sure, I had sex with two of my 
boyfriends, but I was always very careful about the timing and the usage 
of condoms.  God knows I couldn't have gone to the doctors' office to 
get a prescription for birth control pills out of fear that my 
"reputation" would be damaged.  But I always knew in the deepest part of 
my soul and mind that I would become a smoker - at least since I was 13 
years old.  And that conviction grew in me almost every day, although I 
knew that nothing could provoke me into letting that be known.  All that 
changed on my first day of freedom at the university.			
	My Mom and Dad drove me to the university that I had chosen to 
enroll in 1000 miles from home.  I had chosen to live in the dorm on 
campus, at least for my first year.  The dorm didn't have a 
smoking/nonsmoking room policy and so you took your chances of residing 
with a smoker if you were a nonsmoker.  But it would be easy to change 
roommates if the situation was unbearable for that reason.  Mom had 
questioned me if I could accept living with a smoker, if only for a few 
months; after all, my clothes would be "ruined" if they got too smoky.  
I told her that there's lots of things you have to worry about in life, 
but it's not worth the agony.  I would be able to handle any situation 
that arose.  We spent the better part of the day moving into my room and 
getting to know some of the other girls in the hall.  My roommate had 
not yet arrived, giving Mom some dismay, not knowing if she would turn 
out to be a smoker.  Then it was time to say goodbye to Mom and Dad, as 
they wanted to get going down the road for the long trip home.  They 
were so proud of their baby starting her first year at college; Mom 
cried as we said our goodbyes because this was the first time I had ever 
been away from home and they knew they wouldn't see me again until 
Christmas more than 3 months away.  I was tingling with anticipation for 
them to leave; as I said I knew for a long time that I was going to 
become a smoker and I couldn't wait for that to begin!			
	As I watched their car turn the corner at the end of the street 
I knew what I would do.  I walked three blocks to the nearest off campus 
convenience store, knowing that when I walked in that I would buy my 
first pack of cigarettes.  God, how excited I was.  The culmination of 
years of longing, of thousands of ads in magazines that beckoned to me, 
of the actresses in the movies that I watched smoking as though they 
were looking into my eyes, of the erotic dreams on countless nights when 
I would awaken aroused by the thought of my own smoking, was now at 
hand.  I didn't know exactly how it would turn out at the convenience 
store, but I was hoping there would be a display stand on the counter 
offering either Marlboro Lights 100's or Virginia Slims, so instead of 
asking a clerk for a pack I would just casually take a pack from the 
display and put down my money on the counter so as to not look foolish. 
 I wouldn't be needing a lighter as I had a pack of matches hidden well 
within my purse.  My heart started racing as I got closer and closer to 
the store and I was starting to blush a little.  What the hell, no one 
knew me around here. I decided to calm down a little before entering by 
slowing my pace of walking and that helped.  Before I knew it I was at 
the storefront; I even had to glance once over my shoulder just in case 
my parents had come back for some unknown reason and spotted me going in 
the store.  I let out a little laugh at that prospect and went in.  Sure 
enough right on the counter there was a display of cigarettes from which 
I could choose!  I didn't hesitate in selecting a pack of Virginia Slims 
and put down a five dollar bill.  The clerk was a young guy and appeared 
somewhat flustered when he saw me and said nothing other than the 
correct change.  I thanked him and turned to leave, trying not to look 
like I was in a big hurry, but I felt like I couldn't get out of the 
store fast enough.  A big warm smile came over me as I got out and then 
looked at what I had just bought.  It was a pack of Virginia Slims 
alright.120's! I had seen these advertised but never thought that they 
would be the first cigarette I would smoke.  They looked very elegant in 
their longer than anticipated package.  It was time!			
	Across the street from the store was a city park and I didn't 
see anyone there other than a few children all the way across the open 
area playing on some playground equipment and being dutifully watched by 
 a few women.  I found a large cottonwood tree to sit under in some 
freshly mown grass.  Fumbling through my purse I found the matches and 
once again held the pack of Virginia Slims 120's in my hand.  I noticed 
the words Luxury Lights on the box and thought that these wouldn't be 
very strong to start with, so I excitedly ripped the cellophane strip 
off and flipped open the pack.  I figured out how to get one out without 
much trouble, but was quite surprised at how long it actually was.  I 
was very intrigued and couldn't wait.  I smelled the length of the 
cigarette and couldn't believe how good it actually smelled!  How was I 
going to do this, I thought?  Would I start coughing and feel slightly  
ill?  I wasn't going to let that happen no matter what.  I slowly raised 
the smooth long slim filter to my lips, held the matchbook in both 
hands, and struck a match.  Lifting the flame to the end of the VS 120 
and steadying the cigarette with the fingers of my left hand, I drew 
ever so gently on the filter until I noticed that the flame actually was 
being drawn toward the end.  It was lit!  I tasted the smoke immediately 
in my mouth and blew it all out as I withdrew the filter from my lips.  
I was surprised at the taste, not unlike being around a campfire and 
inhaling some smoke.  I drew another puff, held it in my mouth for 5 
seconds and tried to breathe through my nose ever so delicately.  I blew 
out some smoke, but this time there seemed to be more of a continuous 
stream coming out.  I had just inhaled my first puff of smoke from a 
Virginia Slims 120 and it didn't make me cough!  I was ecstactic!  I was 
going to be able to call VS 120's "My Cigarette"!  I tried again drawing 
on the filter a little longer, holding the smoke in my mouth and then 
trying to breathe through my mouth very slowly.  I didn't feel any need 
to cough so I continued to breathe in.  After about 5 seconds I released 
my breath and to my amazement the taste sensation that I experienced at 
that moment was so exhilerating that I knew I would be a smoker from 
that point forward.  I suddenly realized that I had been oblivious to 
the world, only my intent devotion to what I was doing being the sole 
reason for existence at that time and place.  I finished my cigarette 
and decided to go back to the dorm to meet whomever my roommate would 
be.  I had finally shed the expectations of everyone who ever knew me 
and was embarking on a new me, a new self, a woman that would be proud 
of what she does for her own self-satisfaction, not someone elses!

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