Taste the Consequences, Part 1

(by SSTORYMAN, 27 February 2004)


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This fictional account contains adult language and sexual themes.  If such
language and themes offend you, please do not read further.  The persons and
events described in this work are purely fictional.  Any similarity to actual
persons or events is strictly coincidental.  Copyright 2004 by SSTORYMAN.
All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this story in
any form and for any purpose as long as this notice is reproduced and no
financial remuneration is received, directly or indirectly, by the person
reproducing or using it.

TASTING THE CONSEQUENCES

1.	Amanda's Dilemma.

   "Hey, Amanda, how are you doing?"

   Amanda Eagle looked up and saw Fred Coleman.  She smiled.  "Hi, Fred, nice
to see you.  I'm fine.  And you?"

   "Great, thanks," Fred answered, reaching for some finger food to put on
his plate.  He looked over the large crowd at the United Way fundraiser.  No
one else had noticed Amanda yet.  He took advantage of his chance to talk to
her alone.  "Claudia and I got your new book.  It's great.  I guess you've
done quite well with it.  How does it feel to be a celebrity?"

   Amanda grinned.  "It's strange, to be honest.  For two months I've done
book tours constantly.  After I was on Oprah a couple months back, sales
absolutely took off.  'Tasting the Consequences' has suddenly made everyone
consider me an expert on teenagers.  But you and Claudia have known me for
years.  You know I'm not as brilliant as my book suggests," she chuckled.
"But yeah, I'm enjoying my fifteen minutes of fame."

   Fred munched.  "You're too modest, Amanda.  Your book's great for raising
teens.  Claudia and I liked it.  But our daughters have been friends for
years.  So your book especially interested us, since we saw your ideas work
on Jodi."  No one else was horning in on their conversion, so he went on.
"Amanda, I'd like your input on a situation we're facing with Kate.  Can we
talk about it?"

   Fred laughed when she hesitated.  "You've given me lots of free advice
over the years, Amanda.  I appreciate all the times you talked to me and
never once sent me a bill.  I know you way get too much of that.  People
always want free advice from the expert.  But Claudia and I might need to
hire you this time.  We'll pay you if you like, even though we're old friends
and our daughters are, too.  I really need your input as to what we should do
with Kate."

   "I don't give much free counseling advice since 'Tasting the Consequences'
came out.  I do get way too many requests.  But you and Claudia are old
friends and our daughters are, too.  So sure, shoot.  I can help you one more
time.  What's going on?"

   Fred lowered his voice.  "Kate's smoking."

   "What?"

   "That's right," he went on nervously.  "Kate's smoking."

   "My God!  How long has this been going on?"

   "I'm not sure," Fred admitted.  "For awhile, I guess.  You know that
Claudia smokes?"

   "No, I didn't.  Well, that explains it then, at least some of Kate's
decision to try it out, if her mother smokes."

   "But we never had any problem with Kate before, not about smoking or
anything.  She's always the picture perfect teenager.  She never had any bad
friends, never acted wild, never stayed out too late or got into trouble,
never talked back to us, and never argued about anything.  No, Kate's been a
perfect 16 year old.  Till this," he sighed ruefully.

   "Tell me about Claudia.  I never knew she smoked."

   "Yeah, Claudia's smoked for years.  But she's always been discrete about
it.  Most people never knew.  For instance, Claudia never smoked inside our
house, at least not till last year when she broke her ankle.  Till then she
always went out in the garage or onto the back porch.  But after she broke
her ankle she couldn't move around too well.  So she started smoking in our
family room while lying on the couch instead of going out to the garage or
outside.  It was only supposed to be temporary, till she was ambulatory
again.  Unfortunately, then it was winter.  She never exactly got around to
going back out to the garage or on the porch to smoke again."

   "Does Claudia smoke a lot?"

   "No, not much at all," Fred apologized a bit too profusely.  "But since
Claudia started smoking indoors last year you can smell it in our family
room.  That's why neither of us realized that Kate was doing it."

   "Now tell me about Kate."

   "Kate's home alone after school every day.  This week she told us that
she'd been curious about smoking for a long time and that she finally she
decided to try it.  I guess she's smoking every afternoon.  Now she says
she's hooked."

   "And how long has it been going on?"

   "I'm not sure," Fred admitted.  "Awhile.  But Kate says she won't quit.
It's not like her.  She's always been so cooperative about everything.  But
for some reason she's really digging in her heels on this one."

   "And what's Claudia's reaction?"

   "Well, she's horrified, of course.  Claudia feels guilty.  She knows her
smoking must have been a terrible example for Kate.  She also knows that if
she hadn't started doing it inside after she broke her ankle last year Kate
probably wouldn't have tried it."

   Amanda smiled.  "Well, Fred, you read my book.  You know the 'Tasting the
Consequences' principle and how it applies in this case?"  He nodded.
"Right.  You teach teens not to act destructively like this by forcing them
to live with the negative consequences of their decisions.  If I were you,
I'd make Kate start smoking in her bedroom.  Don't clean up her dirty
ashtrays or air out the smell.  Plus, get Claudia to step up her smoking.
Have her do it in every room, all the time for awhile.  Make your house stink
as much as possible.  Once Kate realizes what a nasty, smelly habit it is,
she'll change her mind."  She sighed.  "That's what I'd do."

   Fred nodded.  "We talked about that.  But Claudia also suggested something
else," he said hesitantly.  "She suggested I pretend to start smoking, too,
because it'll freak poor Kate out."  He saw the surprise on Amanda's face.
"You see, Claudia thinks having all three of us smoke around our house all
the time will gross Kate out.  It'd make her want to quit, and make her want
to make us stop, too, of course."  He smiled.  "Claudia thinks it also could
give her enough incentive to finally quit smoking herself.  She really wants
to, of course.  Anyway, that's what we're thinking of doing.  We want to take
your tasting the consequences theory and use it to make Kate decide she wants
to stop smoking."

   "The tasting the consequences principle nearly always works, Fred.  People
are attracted by negative behavior but only until they see everything else
that their negative behavior involves.  Once they see that early enough and
starkly enough, it provides real incentive to teens to change.  So if you're
up to it, I think I agree with Claudia.  I'd give it a shot.  You might try
smoking a little with her.  If you do you can almost certainly change Kate's
feelings about her own smoking before she becomes an addict.  Sneaking around
smoking is a lot easier to deal with than actually living in the midst of it
day in and day out, and especially watching your parents do it."

   "Thanks, Amanda.  I appreciate the advice.  That's exactly what Claudia
and I thought you'd say based on your book.  Hopefully it'll work.  So, how
much do I owe you?"

   "Nothing," she laughed.  "We're friends, Fred.  Give my best to Claudia.
Unfortunately I should mingle with some others here at the reception."

   "Yeah, sure, thanks again.  We'll let you know what happens."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   "Tasting the Consequences:  A Guide to Effective Child Rearing in the 21st
Century" by Amanda Eagle was the product of years of work by Amanda and her
ex-husband Joe Jacobson, also a professional counselor.  Halfway through
writing Amanda caught Joe cheating with another woman, a young girl in his
counseling practice.  The divorce was messy.  As part of the settlement
Amanda received all rights to the in-process manuscript.  Joe's only credit
in the book for his contribution was a small acknowledgment in the author's
forward.  After the divorce Amanda returned to using her maiden name, Eagle,
and cut all ties to her scoundrel of an ex-husband.

   Her daughter Jodi lived with her but retained her father's last name.
Jodi sided with her mom in the aftermath of the divorce.  But the trauma she
felt hit close to home.  That, combined with Amanda's preoccupation with
getting her manuscript published and then with the book promotion left her
teenage daughter alone, emotionally and otherwise.  With her mom busy with
her book Jodi began to turn more and more to her best friend Kate for
emotional support.  The two girls had been close since middle school.  Now
more often that not Jodi spent time after school with Kate, hanging out,
doing homework and talking.

   Now Amanda wondered if Jodi was also experimenting with smoking like her
best friend.  Fred's news about Kate's rebellion worried her.  After talking
to him she felt she needed a direct conversation with her daughter on the
subject of smoking as soon as possible.  She made a note to herself in her
palm pilot to definitely talk to Jodi right after the United Way fundraiser.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   With a new issue of Entertainment Weekly on her lap, Claudia Coleman
contentedly reached for her cigarettes.  Picking up her gold Benson & Hedges
100's, the attractive brunette slowly shook one out.  Putting it in her mouth
she took her lighter.  She clicked it.  A flame erupted.  Noiselessly she
guided it deliberately toward the long white cigarette hanging from her lips.
Her cheeks caved in, helping the tobacco properly ignite, and thick smoke
began to flood her mouth.  Opening a corner of her mouth she sucked some of
the smoke inside, immediately feeling the welcome relief of the creamy
nicotine-containing substance in her lungs.  She took a second puff, pulled
more of it inside, and unhurriedly removed the burning cigarette from her
parted lips.  Slowly, effortlessly, a velvety exhale lazily flowed outwards
as she smiled blissfully.

   Her daughter Kate entered the room.  Claudia smiled affectionately at her
offspring.  "Hi, honey," she said amiably.  "Why don't you join me?"

   Kate was almost the mirror image of her good-looking mother.  She was a
tall, thin radiant brunette with a charming face and a well-sculpted body.
Kate sat down across from her mom with an expectant smile on her lips.

   "Mom, if I didn't know better I'd say you're actually glad I'm smoking
now," she laughed caustically.  From her mother's fingers the pretty teenager
appreciatively accepted an unlit Benson & Hedges.

   "Oh, but I am, honey," Claudia gushed eagerly.  She held her lighter
between them, allowing her daughter to follow her lead and light up her
cigarette.  "I'm delighted that you're smoking," she went on, putting her
lighter down on the table.  She raised her cigarette to her lips for a
lengthy drag.  "I love you being a smoker like me.  Being able to smoke with
you is heavenly, honey.  I wouldn't have it any other way!"

   Kate released a luxurious exhale through her own smiling lips.  "Really
Mom, don't you think that sentiment's just a little twisted?"  But the look
on her face confirmed that she didn't really believe it herself.

   "Oh yeah, I suppose it is," Claudia sighed happily, spewing smoke of her
own.  "But I don't give a damn.  For years I felt like a pariah because I
smoked.  Your father forced me to only smoke outside or in the garage.  God,
I hated that.  Breaking my ankle last winter was the best thing ever.  It
finally gave me an excuse to smoke inside our house.  It was so much nicer."
She smiled and dragged again on her cigarette.  "At that point the only thing
missing was having someone to share my habit with.  But now I have you,
Kate," she laughed gleefully, tapping an ash into the ashtray before exhaling
smoke.  "I couldn't be happier."

   "I'm a very lucky girl," Kate acknowledged, pausing to hit on her
cigarette.  "I don't have any friends whose moms let them smoke openly like
you do."  She pursed her lips and exhaled.  "God, I just wish Daddy wasn't so
upset over it.  He'd blow a gasket if he knew you encouraged me like this."

   "Don't worry, honey.  He doesn't know it yet but your dad will come
around.  After reading Amanda Eagle's book I realized I had a perfect
opportunity to finally get what I want.  I fed your dad her idea about
'tasting the consequences,' the principle she talks about in the book.  I
told him we can dissuade you from continuing to smoke if he and I both start
stinking up our house all the time.  I couldn't believe it, but your father's
actually considering pretending to smoke with me as a way to undermine your
interest in our little habit.  The poor fool!  He intends to see Amanda Eagle
at that fundraiser tonight.  He plans to ask her advice."  Claudia giggled
wickedly and drew hard on her Benson & Hedges.  "I know Amanda will agree
with my idea.  It's consistent with the theory in her stupid book.  So very
soon we'll get your dad smoking, too.  Before long he'll get hooked just like
we are.  Then finally my days of being a pariah because I smoke will be done.
He'll be one of us, honey.  Won't that be sweet?"

   "I think it'd be pretty cool," Kate nodded eagerly.  "I can hardly believe
Daddy will do it.  But if he talks to Ms. Eagle I'm still worried about Jodi.
I know it's all in the plan, but what if she goes ballistic upon realizing
that if I'm smoking it must mean her daughter is, too?"

   "Amanda won't go ballistic," Claudia predicted.  "She's too committed to
her crazy theory.  She'll use the same "tasting the consequences' principle
on Jodi, the same one we're gonna use on your unsuspecting father.  Yeah,
unless I miss my guess Jodi won't need to smoke alone for much longer,
either."

   "I hope you're right, Mom," Kate sighed.  She smiled.  "I do love smoking
with you."

   "I love smoking with you, too, honey," Claudia acknowledged.  "I don't
care if it's good for us or not.  I'm just glad to finally be living with
another smoker.  It's the best.  And hopefully very soon your father will
make three of us in the family!"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

   Jodi Jacobson was as dark-haired as her mother was blond.  Petite with a
round face and pretty smile, she sat at home reading a book when her mother
returned home from the fundraiser.

   "Hi, Mom," she called out when she heard the garage door.  "How was it?"

   "It was fine," Amanda answered, entering the family room of their home.
"I talked to Kate's dad there.  He told me some shocking news about your
friend."

   Jodi tensed.  Kate told her this was about to happen.  But she still
dreaded it.  "Oh?"

   "Yeah," Amanda went on, sitting down across from her daughter.  "Did you
know Kate has started smoking?"

   "Oh, yeah," Jodi nonchalantly replied.  "I knew that."

   "Fred was pretty upset about it.  I guess he and Claudia were shocked."

   Well, Claudia isn't exactly shocked, Jodi mused silently.  "Yeah," she
said aloud.  "I guess they are, aren't they?"

   "Look, you and Kate spent a lot of time together while I went through the
divorce, finished the book, and then did my publicity tours," she went on.
"It makes me wonder, Jodi.  Have you tried smoking, too?"

   Jodi took a deep breath.  For months she'd dreaded this moment.  Finally
it was here.  She nodded.  "Yeah, Mom.  I have."

   "Oh, Jodi," Amanda groaned.  "How could you?"

   "It wasn't hard," her daughter said calmly.  "Kate said she liked it.
Kate's my best friend.  How could I not try it once she did?"

   "How about because it's really stupid," Amanda spat back.  "Smoking will
kill you.  It's terrible for your health, to say nothing of it being illegal
since you're under 18.  You can get your driver's license suspended if the
police catch you smoking under 18, you know."

   The raven-haired girl stared stoically at her mother without a word.

   "I don't believe it.  How could you do this, Jodi?  I wrote a best-selling
book about child-raising, and then you do something stupid like this.  It's
so incredibly humiliating to me."

   Anger began to well up inside the pretty girl.  She had to be careful.
She had to channel it just right.  "Look, Mom, I'm sorry you think your
reputation as a best-selling author depends on your daughter being perfect.
I'm not perfect.  Never have been.  But don't worry.  I won't walk down Main
Street holding a cigarette while wearing a sandwich board that says 'I'm
Amanda Eagle's miserable daughter.'  Everything's not about you, you know.  I
have a life, too."

   "I know that, Jodi," Amanda replied, softening.  "But smoking's so dumb.
It's such a filthy disgusting habit.  No one smokes these days, and for good
reason."

   "Wrong, Mom.  Kate smokes.  And I smoke."  She let her words reverberate
in the air.

   Amanda sighed.  She hoped Jodi would show some repentance, some
recognition that she was making a big mistake.  Her intransigence was
disturbing.  "Well, okay.  You know what I'm going to do then?"

   Jodi laughed.  "Know?  Of course I do.  I helped you and Dad write the
stupid book.  I know all about the 'tasting the consequences' principle.
'Make your teens live with the negative consequences of their supposed
choices,' you say on page 132.  'Help your teenagers see all the bad things
that will happen once they choose the path they wrongly believe they want to
follow.'  On page 141 you conclude, 'After they taste the unpleasant
consequences that flow from the choices they've made, finally they'll realize
that you were right and they were wrong, that as parents you were pretty
smart after all.  Most importantly, you can accomplish your goal without
imposing disruptive restrictions or building walls between you and your
teen.'  Isn't that it?"

   Amanda nodded.  "So what do you think I'm gonna make you do?"

   "I think you'll make me smoke in the house now because you believe
eventually I'll learn to hate it," Jodi predicted.  "Based on what the book
says, I also think you'll join me.  'Teens may think they want to walk a
particular path.  But they're horrified if they see their parents doing the
same thing.  Such a necessary reality check is frequently the first step
toward helping your teens realize the mistakes they've made'  I think that
passage is on page 153.  So do you intend to smoke with me, to try to gross
me out by doing it with me?"

   "You're too smart for your own good," Amanda acknowledged.  A sarcastic
reaction was exactly what she expected.  "You don't really want to be a
smoker, Jodi.  It's not who you are.  Not really.  If you and I experience it
together for a few days you'll quickly see it's not all that it's cracked up
to be."

   Jodi grinned malevolently.  "Then let's find out, Mom.  I don't care.  I'm
happy to start smoking around the house, in my bedroom, everywhere.  And go
ahead and try to freak me out by joining me.  I don't think it'll work.  I
like to smoke."

   Amanda hesitated.  The success of the 'tasting the consequences' approach
in this situation depended on her daughter not already being addicted to
nicotine.  "Uh, how long have you been smoking, Jodi?  And how much do you
smoke?"

   Jodi smiled.  She knew this question would come.  She was ready for it.
But her answer needed a little white lie to make it work the way she wanted
it to.  "Oh, not long at all," she fibbed.  "I tried it with Kate the first
time a couple weeks ago.  I smoke a couple cigarettes now every afternoon
while I'm at her house after school.  That's about it."

   Amanda nodded.  It was the answer she hoped for.  She didn't know it was a
total fabrication.  In fact Jodi had smoked for six months.  Before and after
school, over her lunch hour every day and at other times, the dark-haired
teenager now averaged nearly a half a pack a day.  Not as much as Kate, but a
lot more than a couple cigarettes daily.  But her mother would never know the
truth, not till it was way too late.

   "Okay, fine," Amanda agreed, believing Jodi wasn't yet addicted..  "We'll
do it.  Starting right now you're gonna start smoking in the house.  No more
sneaking around.  You'll find out up close and personal exactly what it's
like to be a real smoker.  I'll smoke, too, and you won't like me smoking.  I
want you to understand the consequences of your stupid decision.  Then we'll
get together in a week to review, to see if you still think it's such a great
thing to do."

   Jodi assumed her best dramatic thespian persona.  "Mom, are you sure you
need to do it, too?  I really don't want you to smoke."

   "Absolutely," Amanda insisted, pleased by her daughter's apparent
hesitation.  "I want you to be horrified.  Nothing's worse than living in a
smelly house and having a smelly mother.  Being a smoker's a lot more
disgusting than fooling around with it like you did with Kate."  She smiled.
"Her dad's gonna do the same thing, by the way.  He's decided to start
smoking with Kate and her mom to show Kate just how disgusting the habit is."

   "No?"

   "Oh yes," Amanda smugly replied.  "We'll see how great Kate thinks smoking
is when her mother and her father are both smoking all the time around her."

   Jodi had to show some backbone.  If she cowered too much her mom wouldn't
believe she was sincere.  "Well, do your worst, Mom.  Kate's parents can do
the same.  I don't think you're right about tasting the consequences in this
situation.  I like to smoke."

   "I'm sure you think you do," Amanda self-righteously retorted.  "But we'll
find out now, won't we?"

   Yeah, we sure as hell will, Jodi silently giggled.  We sure as hell will!


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