(by Fuzzyman, 03 June 2001)

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by Fuzzyman

I'm writing this on request about how I started smoking and how smoking
works in my life.  I don't think it's the same as other stories.  You see,
smoking is not all glamour for me.  I didn't instantly become a Woman by
smoking.  My sexuality didn't peak due to smoking.  I didn't attract that
certain someone by smoking.  For me it was a little more, well, real.

I can't remember when I tried my first cigarette.  It was no magic moment.
As a matter of fact, the line of when I was a non-smoker and a smoker is
kind of blurry.  I grew up in a smoking household.  My mother, my father, my
two brothers and two sisters ... my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, the
neighbors, everyone I know, everyone I grew up with, smoked.  Everyone.  I'm
not lying.  As early as I can remember there was a thick fog of cigarette
smoke everywhere in my house, all the time.  You could count on the fact
that between the hours of 6:00 am and midnight there was a cigarette burning
somewhere in my house.  And in the car?  Forget it.  I remember going on
family trips.  We'd all be crammed into the van and most, if not all of the
people were smoking.  Once when I was real young I looked at myself in the
rear view mirror and noticed that when I breathed out I saw smoke coming out
of my nose.  I think that's why becoming a smoker happened so naturally  I
was practically smoking from the day I was born.

Once, when I was about six or so, my sister Margaret was doing something or
another and asked me to hold her cigarette.  My brother Michael looked at me
and said "Isn't she cute, holding that cigarette?"  I remember Momma said
"Well, she'd better get used to it.  She'll be smoking any time now.  It
can't be avoided."  Michael and Margaret had some fun then and got me to
take a real puff.  Much to my surprise it wasn't all that bad.  From then on
they'd get me to hold their cigarettes and encourage me to take a puff.  It
was sort of like a parlor trick to see this little girl smoke, but I guess
that's how it started for all of them.

The next step came at, like, holidays and stuff.  We'd be at Christmas or a
birthday or something and we'd all have a glass of wine and somebody  even
Mom or Dad  would offer me a cigarette.  Then it would be after dinner.
Someone would offer and I could say "yes" or "no," but I knew that everyone
else was doing it, so mostly it was "yes."  After all, I wanted to be part
of the gang.  They never put pressure on me  not for a minute.  It was
always my choice.  But it was EVERYWHERE.  Again, that fog.

By the time I was eleven or twelve, I was smoking almost a pack a day  but
it was never completely on my own.  I was always with someone and they were
always smoking, and I smoked with them.  It was as natural as getting a
glass of iced tea or something to snack on.  At that age I could smoke with
the best of 'em, and I'll be honest  I did enjoy it by then.  Still, I
could have put it down and not gone nuts.  I smoked just because everyone
else did.

One summer, my sister Margaret (who, now that I look back, was a sneaky
bitch) used to challenge me to chaining contests.  We'd see how many
cigarettes we could chain before we got sick.  Well, being that Margaret was
not only pushy but she'd been smoking four or five years longer than I had,
I was determined to beat her.  It was almost like every day she'd challenge
me.  At first I could only go three or four before I started to get sick.
After a few weeks of her stupid game I was holding my own with ten or more.

It was after Margaret's fun little games that I found that I had to have a
cigarette in the morning before I even got out of bed.  As soon as the alarm
went off, I was lighting up.  It was just something I had to do.  It was
like I had no choice in the matter.  I'd lay in bed and inhale DEEP.  Then
I'd hold it until my toes tingled.  Soon I started waking up in the middle
of the night and had to have one.  Within a few months of this routine it
struck me  I couldn't stop now.  I wasn't smoking any more because I was
doing what everyone else was doing.  It became something I had to have now.
I thought about smoking when I wasn't smoking, and when I was, I felt great.

I guess it was around that time the clouds parted and the sun shone and the
voices sang and for once I understood.  Sure, it's an additiction, but it's
like being addicted to air or food.  You gotta do it, but it doesn't mean
you can't love it.

So, the next family trip when six or so of us were crammed into the van, all
of us were smoking.  The fog was thick and made our eyes water, but there
were six cigarettes burning and six of us were inhaling the smoke as if our
lives depended on it, and even when we weren't smoking we were breathing
deep as every breath we took was part cigarette smoke.  In retrospect it was

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