Dear Diary, Part 1

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 02 April 1997)


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>From - Thu Apr 03 19:03:55 1997
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From: an4@anon.lelnet.com
Newsgroups: alt.smokers.glamour
Subject: Dear Diary, Part 1
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 1997 12:33:23 -0500 (EST)
Organization: Alt.smokers.glamour society
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Approved: asg-sub@lelnet.com
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   2 May (Evening)
   Dear Diary: The most amasing thing happened this afternoon. I came home from
school with my friend Elaine- you know Elaine, as I've written enough about
her. She's been smoking for almost a year now- I can't believe it's been that
long. It's so disgusting. I swear she can't go twenty minutes without
lighting one of those things- anyway.
   Mom started again last week. Right after she broke up with that worm Yanick.
She says she can't go to the gym anymore- I told her not to date somebody
from there, but you know, mothers never listen. Well, we sat down to start
studying for the AP Exam- Civil War battles, really boring stuff. Mom lit a
cigarette as soon as we came into the house- she's been real belligerent
about it. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's the parent and who's the child.
:-)
   Well, Mom brings an ashtray over and sets it down on the table by Elaine.
   "You can go ahead and smoke, Elaine. I don't mind."
   You could have knocked both of us over with a feather. First Elaine's eyes
lit up and then the rest of her followed. She smoked five or six of those
Marlboro Lights, the big long 100's, same thing Mom smokes. The place reeked
by the time dinner was ready, and Mom invited Elaine to stay- she never does
that.
   She even let the two us have a glass of wine each with dinner- that was
cool, at least- and drove Elaine home. Let her smoke in the car, too. Not
that that's any big deal for Elaine. Her parents let her smoke in the house
now that's she's 17. I don't know what the big deal about being 17 is. It
feels just like sixteen. 
   Oops, gotta go. Mom's calling.
   
   Kelli walked into the living room. Millennium was just starting. If there
was one thing that mother and daughter agreed on, it was that the programme
was worth investing an hour of their time. Although the show Mom really liked
was the X-Files- she denied having a celebrity crush on David Duchovny, but
not with any real conviction.
   The break for commercial came and Kelli was about to get up to get a glass
of soda when Mom cleared her throat.
   That meant a question was coming. Lately, the questions had been really
obnoxious things like 'Why don't you ever go out on dates ?' This would be
followed up with even more embarrassing things like 'You're so pretty, after
all.'
   Which wasn't exactly true. Mom was pretty- no, gorgeous was a better
description. Her hair was natural blonde, her waistline was microscopic, and
her legs-
   Kelli was still trying to figure out things like why she'd gotten stuck with
Dad's reddish-blonde hair, too fine to even be waved, and when her baby-fat
was going to melt. She knew she wasn't really overweight, but her face was a
little too full and her breasts weren't quite finished filling out- she
hoped.
   She was so busy wondering at the twists and turns of DNA that she hardly
heard her mother's question.
   "Were you upset with me for letting Elaine smoke in the house, h-?"
   She almost said hon, but stopped herself. Kelli had asked her to stop
because she had an embarrassing habit of doing it in public.
   It was an hard question to answer. Kelli thought about it and finally said
"Well, no offence, Mom, but it's just foul. You know I wish you hadn't
started again. Elaine can smoke at home-"
   "And she can smoke here, any time she wants," Mom interrupted. "Just because
you don't like it-"
   "Well, doesn't what I like count for anything ?"
   "Yes. Which is why you don't smoke. Elaine does. I do."
   "We're not going to argue about this, are we ?"
   There was a long period of silence filled with boring car commercials. Just
before the show came back on, Mom spoke up again. "I just wish you were more
understanding about it, that's all."
   "It's not like you taking up smoking again is a good thing, Mom."
   "How would you know ?" she said bitterly. The show started, and soon they
had forgotten all about their discussion. Or so Kelli thought.

   3 May (Early AM)
   Dear Diary: It's getting late, so this will be short. I thought things were
strange with Elaine earlier tonight.
   That was just the start. After we got done watching television, Mom asked me
why I'd never tried smoking. I guess I can understand that. I imagine she
assumed that I would someday. I used to think so too, but I don't know-
   I guess I really didn't have a good answer. I mean, you know better than
anyone that I just don't like it. I tried to explain that, but her attitude
is that I would feel different about it if I tried it. She really started to
badger me, you know. Asked me why I was so against just trying it.
   I'm sure if I had asked her for one she would have been more than happy to
give it to me.
   Don't worry, that won't happen.
   Looking forward to a movie tomorrow and some shopping at the mall.

   "It would be faster to take the highway," Kelli said, wondering why her
mother had just passed the on-ramp. It would take twice as long to get to the
theatre on Route 67.
   The again, Mom had the top down for the first time all year, so it was to be
expected that she'd be taking the scenic route.
   "We have an hour, Kelli. Relax. Can you push the cigarette lighter in for
me, Elaine ?"
   Elaine did as she was asked and both women took out cigarettes, making Kelli
glad that she'd taken the back seat. By the time they got to the theatre, the
two were laughing and joking like old friends. They smoked the entire time,
Elaine as if she was making up for the two hours in the theatre that she'd be
deprived of her habit.
   As soon as they got out of the car Elaine pulled a cigarette from her pack.
It was a warm day, but windy, and Elaine asked Kelli to hold the cigarettes
while she caught a light. Once she had the cigarette lit, she handed the
lighter to Kelli and started rooting through her purse for her movie money.
   They were walking towards the entrance when they spotted Regina Worthy, who
waved and smiled.
   The first thing she saw was the pack of cigarettes in Kelli's hand. "You
finally started ?" she asked, her voice bright and full of approval.
   "No, these are Elaine's."
   "Sure they are," Regina said, favouring her with an exaggerated wink.
   Elaine bailed her friend out- the threw her in the deep end. "They really
are mine. But Kelli's mom wants her to start-"
   "No way. So why haven't you ?"
   "She doesn't want me to start," Kelli said defensively, "she just wants me
to try it and see if I like it."
   "And you haven't ? I wish my mother was like that. She told me I have to
keep sneaking behind her back until I'm eighteen and I can buy my own. Not
that she put it exactly that way. Speaking of which-"
   Elaine told her to feel free and Regina took the cigarettes happily,
lighting one and inhaling deeply. "I haven't had one since yesterday. Are you
sure you don't want one, Kelli ?"
   "No," she said, and she was fairly sure she was being perfectly honest.

   3 May (Evening)
   Dear Diary: Well, I think Mom now sees Elaine as the daughter she never had.
   Sorry for the sarcasm, but you should have seen the two of them at the mall.
Or should I say, outside the mall. We were there for three hours, but every
twenty minutes or so the two of them needed a smoke break. Elaine ran out
after the first hour and Mom was more than happy to buy her another pack.
   In fact, she bought two packs, although she'd just opened one and she had
half a carton at home. I have a bad feeling that other pack is for me.
   A bad feeling because I can't help but think I'm just going to continue
disappointing her. Smoking is just- well, like I said to her, it really is
foul. I can't understand how she and Elaine enjoy it so much. And I have no
intention of finding out. That's all for now, although I don't think that the
issue will die any time soon. Mom is very persistent...
   So am I.

   The fact that Mom made her favourite dinner- shrimp scampi- and dolled out
more wine- two glasses tonight, made Kelli very nervous. That trepidation
increased fivefold when she announced that she'd rented the Net when she'd
run out earlier, a movie she knew Kelli had been wanting to see for about a
month. It had been shot down three times at the video store in favour of
movies like The Rapture and Kalifornia.
   When she sat down in her chair, she saw that the other pack of cigarettes
had been placed at the edge of the coffee table, where she usually put her
feet. The cellophane had been removed from the box, something Mom never did
until she was ready to smoke the cigarettes. She said that even after a day,
they started to get stale.
   She had her own pack at the other end of the coffee table.
   There was also another glass of wine next to the- next to what Mom expected
to be her ?- cigarettes. A third glass of wine ? There was no question now.
   "Mom-" Kelli said, putting as much of an edge on her voice as she could.
   "Are you ready to watch the movie ?" she asked innocently.
   "As soon as you tell me why you've given me a pack of cigarettes, yes."
   "Why don't you just take one out of the pack and hold it for a little while
?"
   Kelli laughed sarcastically. "Like a kid pretending ? I'm a little old for
that, aren't I ?" If this was the extent of her Mom's plan, something so
clearly infantile, Kelli found it hard to be worried. Not that she was
planning to co-operate.
   "Yes, if you want to look at it that way."
   Kelli made no move towards the cigarettes.
   "Can't you just humour me a little bit ?"
   As peer pressure went- well, Kelli corrected, Mom was not exactly a peer-
this had to be the dumbest thing that she'd ever endured. Thinking about it,
there was really no end of times which Elaine had tried to get her to smoke,
as well as other friends like Regina. But to be feeling this kind of pressure
from Mom was definitely different.
   "So if I take one of the cigarettes out of the pack and just hold it for a
while, you'll be happy."
   "It will be a start."
   Not completely sure why, Kelli changed her mind and decided to humour her
mother. She leaned forward, picked up the box. Marlboro Lights 100s. The box
had kind of a cool feel to it, but Kelli was smart enough to know that was
because this was a little bit exciting. Even if she didn't want to smoke,
there was something compelling about knowing her mother wanted her to do what
most kids her age were not allowed. The lure of the forbidden, she thought to
herself.
   "You're just doing this for yourself, you know," she said to Mom.
   "Maybe. We'll see what happens."
   She cracked back the flip-top and tore the foil away. There they were.
Twenty Class A cigarettes, and she could smoke them all with her mother's
tacit blessing. She lifted the pack to her nose and smelled them. The tobacco
had a strange scent, almost sweet and surprisingly clean- although that
changed for the worse when you lit them.
   They were tightly packed into the box. She turned it over and tapped the
bottom with the heel of her hand. A few of the cigarettes moved partway out
of the pack and she was able to snare one between her fingers. She pulled it
out slowly, watching Mom out of the corner of her eye. She had a knowing
smile on her face.
   Kelli put the pack down and studied the cigarette. She'd decided to treat
this as an experiment. She'd held Elaine's cigarette on occasion, but always
at arm's length without really trying to look at it. She had to admit that
the cigarette looked good between her fingers, that it looked perfectly
natural.
   She lifted the cigarette to her nose and inhaled. She remembered reading
about how people used to actually sniff- or snuff, as they called it-
shredded tobacco, although she seemed to remember that it wasn't dried the
same way for that use. The scent was the same as before, but stronger. It was
a pleasant, almost enticing smell.
   Taking the wine glass off the table, she settled back into the chair and Mom
started the movie. 
   Pretty soon she'd forgotten about the cigarette in her right hand. She was
concentrating on the movie and the wine, taking small sips so that it would
last longer- and to avoid getting sleepy. Mom had uncorked the best bottle of
french white in the house for the occasion and-
   Kelli reminded herself that this was not an occasion.
   It became apparently as the movie went on why Mom had finally relented.
Sandra Bullock's character was a smoker- although she didn't seem too
convincing. Mom was much better at it. Bullock's smoking was often nervous
and hurried, although in her defence her character was someone who had every
reason to be antsy.
   About halfway through the movie Kelli realised two things- the wine was
making her tired, and she'd been holding the cigarette for almost an hour.
Several times she caught herself bringing the cigarette to her mouth or
flicking the filter with her thumb. Unconscious learned behaviour, she
decided.
   But there was no denying that the long white cigarette didn't feel the least
bit foreign in her hand.
   Mom had split time watching the movie- which wasn't quite as good as Kelli
had hoped- and watching her daughter. She was trying to hide her curiosity,
but wasn't doing a great job.
   "Getting tired ?" Mom asked, lighting another cigarette. She inhaled deeply,
held the smoke in her lungs and closed her eyes half-way. The exhale came as
a thick, dense cloud of smoke which hung over the couch. "I never would have
made it through college without these," she added, looking at the cigarette
in her hand. "That and coffee saved me."
   Kelli was annoyed again. She'd been very good about this so far- she'd sat
and held her cigarette for an hour and not put it down once. She brought the
cigarette to her lips and sucked air through it defiantly. The taste was
strange, not what she'd expected. "There, you happy, I'm pretending to smoke
now. Maybe later we can dress up and have a tea party."
   Usually Mom reacted to sarcasm with more sarcasm- after all, Kelli had
inherited her sarcastic streak from Mom's side of the family. But instead she
smiled. "That is better. Are you sure you don't want me to light that for you
? You could just hold it for while-"
   Thoughts of Regina came back to Kelli. No way. So why haven't you ?
   Maybe they could switch mothers for week. Seeing the way Mom's eyes had lit
up when she put the cigarette in her mouth made one thing clear. This wasn't
going to go away. Suddenly she wished she had bad grades or something else of
a disciplinary nature her mother could focus on. Was the reward for having
always been well-behaved ? That she wanted her do something naughty ?
   Naughty is a little girl's word, Kelli corrected herself, and it implies
doing something your parent doesn't want you to.
   Would it really kill her ? Just once-
   "Go ahead. If it will make you happy. But just one, and when I don't like
it, you'd better respect that."
   The speed with which Mom moved off the couch was a little frightening. Kelli
put the cigarette in her mouth and Mom lit it for her. Smoke immediately
began to curl up from the end, dry and harsh. Mom sat back down after moving
the ashtray to a place where both of them could reach it.
   The lit cigarette didn't feel the way Kelli had expected. For some absurd
reason, she had expected it to feel alive, to be harder to hold. But it
didn't. It was the same as before except that smoke was drifting off of it.
Clean white was trading places with darker ash. She held it in her hand,
unthinkingly turning her wrist the same way that her Mom did. She reached forw
ard and tapped the cigarette with her index finger. A small dust of ash
floated away from the tip, rounding the end.
   This was how Elaine had started. When she'd first smoked, all she really did
was hold the cigarette in her hand and tap ash off it at semi-regular
intervals, rarely actually puffing on it at all. It had taken her a month to
start inhaling, after which her consumption escalated rapidly.
   Kelli drained the wine glass and wasn't really surprised when Mom got up to
get her more.
   As she turned the corner to the kitchen, out of sight, Kelli brought the
cigarette to her lips. She waited until she heard the faint clink of bottle
on glass and then pulled a tiny bit of the smoke into her mouth. This was
just an experiment, she reminded herself. 
   The taste was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. Just odd. Very odd.
   She exhaled the smoke quickly and turned around. Mom was just coming around
the corner and would not have seen this.
   Mom handed her the glass and sat down again. She pretended to take a sudden
great interest in the movie, obviously resisting the urge to look at her
daughter only with great effort. Her head twitched several times but never
turned.
   Kelli snuck another quick puff on the cigarette, telling herself she simply
wanted to learn the strange taste better. Mom somehow managed to not watch
this, either.
   The taste was both better and more familiar. Kelli felt an odd surge of
excitement. She really was smoking now.
   Disappointingly, it was not foul. In fact, as the cigarette continued to
burn, almost a third gone, she found herself wanting to now what it was like
to inhale the smoke and feel the real reason why mom and Elaine and so many
of other friends did this all the time. She continued to trim the ash,
keeping it down to a round grey cone at the very tip of the burning
cigarette.
   "Look, Mom," she said. She put the cigarette to her lips and inhaled the
smoke, a much larger quantity, still just into her mouth. The tip flared
orange as she did it, and Mom smiled.
   She pushed the smoke back out of her mouth without pulling any of it into
her lungs. The taste of tobacco coated her tongue and found herself running
it along the inside of her mouth-
   Because it was very pleasant.
   Mom had the good grace not say anything.


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