Thinking DIfferent

(by an4@anon.lelnet.com, 27 January 1998)


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Thinking Different
an4@anon.lelnet.com

   "So you want me to skip a party with my brother and all his college freshmen
friends to do what ?"
   "To come to an hotel room with all of our friends and watch the game. I've
hired a driver to pick everyone up, the whole thing will be catered- with a
bar- and the room's equipped with a television so large even that 32 inch
monster you have at home will look tiny by comparison."
   "I guess the co-op really paid off, huh ?" Kim said.
   Darlene smiled. She sat down on the stairs and reached into her purse for her
cigarettes. It was amasing to Kim that they'd been standing out here so long
the buses had already pulled away from the school without her friend lighting
one of the endless string of Marlboro Lights 100s she smoked.
   "I still can't believe that research company paid me three grand to sit
around solving physics problems I could do in my sleep."
   "Did they really let you smoke in your office ?" Kim asked.
   "Of course. It was in my contract. Once I told my mentor that I couldn't
really be expected to think straight when I was waiting for my next smoke
break, he gave in without an argument."
   "It must be nice knowing you have a job waiting for you when you get out of
college."
   "Maybe," Darlene said, inhaling deeply on the cigarette. "I'm still toying
with the idea of taking up history instead of physics."
   Ms. Grenaldi walked up behind Darlene unseen. She was just finishing the act
of lighting a Benson and Hedges 100.
   "I hope you're serious about that," Grenaldi said with a smile. She then
exhaled, blowing the harsher smoke from her cigarette into the wind. It
carried straight to Kim, who pretended not to be offended by it.
   "We'll see," Darlene said. "Maybe I'll do a double major. Keep everyone
guessing. Are you coming to the party Sunday ?"
   Kim looked at Darlene with the barest hint of shock in her eyes.
   "I don't know. A bunch of teenage girls drinking themselves silly and mocking
the biggest sporting event of the year ? And me a teacher. I can think of at
least eight reasons- no make that ten- why I should know better."
   "Is that a yes ?" Darlene teased, her exhale also carrying directly into Kim,
who felt as though the wind was forcing cigarette smoke up her petite, well-
rounded nose.
   "I think so. If you can promise me that no one is going to mention that I was
there. You know how parents are these days."
   "Well, mine think it's great you're coming along. To be honest, they were
hoping I'd manage to secure some adult supervision."
   Diane let her face drop slightly. "So that's what I am now, eh ? An adult ?
Ouch."
   "Well, I'll still call you Diane when were not at school, Ms. G."
   "Gotta run, girls."
   With that, Diane was off to the parking lot, leaving Kim to pry all the
details of the party from Darlene.
   "So, who exactly is coming ?"
   Darlene inhaled, thought, gave a very showy but attractive nose exhale. Kim
was no fan of smoking, but she had always been honest enough to admit that her
friend did it well.
   "You act like I didn't first ask you about this a month ago."
   "I'm sorry, Darlene, but tell me who's committed to showing up."
   "Jane, Joella and Jackie-"
   The three Js, as they were called. All smokers.
   "Beth, Ariel, Mary-"
   More smokers.
   "Helen and Lisa."
   "So it's me and ten smokers, right ?"
   Darlene frowned. If there was one thing she'd grown to accept about her
friend it was that she was unyielding to the point where it was annoying. Then
again, that was the list of their close friends, wasn't it ?
   "I didn't drop a grand on a Super Bowl party just to get you to start
smoking. If I wrote it on the blackboard a thousand times, would you accept
that I actually, for some strange reason, respect the fact that you don't want
to smoke, even though your parents would probably allow it and all your
friends smoke."
   "I can't help it. You always say that it doesn't bother you, but you're
always bugging me about it."
   "You're just insecure about your non-smoking, that's all."
   "How can I not be ?"
   Darlene stood up, walked close to Kim. She took a deep, sensuous inhale on
the cigarette, holding the smoke in her lungs for what seemed like forever.
She then allowed the smoke to leak only slowly from her nearly closed lips.
Her sparkling blue eyes were alive with what Kim would have described as
passion.
   "You know what you're missing, girl."
   "Yeah. Waking up and feeling like shit until I light that first cigarette of
the day. Sitting in class wondering if the fucking bell is ever going to
ring-"
   "You do that anyway-"
   "-because I'm all jittery from nicotine withdrawal. Wolfing down my lunch so
that I can go stand behind the school."
   "Standing behind the school is the best way I know to meet guys."
   "You're never getting off how you got Jason Freehold that way, are you ?"
   "No," Darlene said, flashing a coy smile.
   "I'll come to the party. But you have to promise-"
   "No trying to get you to smoke. Deal."

   Kim was sitting in her room studying when her older brother Bob walked in. He
waved to get her attention, the smoke curling from his Camel 100 dancing.
   "So it's official that you're not coming to my Super Bowl party, huh ?"
   "Yeah. I mean, with all the money and time that Darlene put into her party, I
couldn't say no."
   Bob sat down next to her on the bed, glancing at the book she was reading. 
   "The Stranger ? Are you a glutton for punishment or what ?"
   "It's for Exploratory Lit I. Not optional."
   He inhaled deeply on the harsher cigarette, then coated the clean air of her
room with smoke.
   "It's too bad we can't get your party and mine together."
   "Oh, come on, Bob. You're in college now. There must be women everywhere."
   "I wish. We're sixty-forty men to women, and the way it works is that half
the senior class is dating grad students, half the junior class is dating
seniors, and so on. Ten percent of the women are lesbians, which is cool, and
some of the rest just don't have time to date at all. So it's no sexual
paradise."
   "So in other words, you'd be happy if I exposed my friends to that ?" Kim
said, sounding a bit harsher than she meant to.
   "Lighten up, sis. I was just cracking a joke." He inhaled again, the paper
and tobacco in the tip of the cigarette flaring and hissing.
   "What's wrong ?"
   It would have been nice to be able to lie to Bob, but the truth was, Kim
couldn't bring herself to do it and say that everything was fine.
   "You were the last one in your group of friends to start smoking ? How did
you deal with that until you started ?"
   Realising that he was holding the cigarette very close to Kim, he switched it
to his left hand, inhaled quickly, and turned his head away from her to
exhale. He then got up and tapped ash in the ashtray Kim thoughtfully kept on
her desk for when her family came to visit her room.
   "Well, for a long time I simply denied that I had any interest in smoking.
And it's different with guys. If some bozo gave me an hard time about not
smoking I just gave it right back. If Theresa and Wendy hadn't smoked, I never
would have started, but they used-"
   "Other methods of persuasion ?" Kim asked, allowing him enough manoeuvering
room to not have to admit that he'd slept with both of them along the way.
   "Exactly. But I know what Wendy told me. She finally started smoking because
there was so much pressure for her friends and her younger sister that she
just wanted to shut everyone up. And it turned out that of all my friends,
she's the one who enjoys smoking the most."
   "When you weren't smoking, did you think you were missing something ?"
   "Sometimes. I mean, I'd tried it a few times- I'm sure you remember that time
when I was fourteen and Dad wandered over to the Andersen's and there I am,
sitting by the pool with	Theresa, smoking. I thought he was going to have a
stroke."
   "But six months later Mom and Dad decided they were cool with you smoking.
Why ?"
   "There are three types of parents, I think. One, the sort who don't care. If
it's just that they don't care if you smoke, that's fine. But it's not always
like that. Then there's the sort we have- the sort the Andersens are. They
draw a magical line in the sand. For Mom and Dad, that was when I turned
fifteen, I think, although I didn't test it right away. Then there's the third
type, who pull that `not while you're in my house' shit."
   "You think I should take advantage of the fact that Mom and Dad are lenient
on the smoking thing ?"
   Bob laughed. Drew deeply on the cigarette and considered before exhaling.
   "No. That would be as silly as you smoking because your friends want you to.
Aside from the fact that there's no guarentee Mom and Dad will traet you the
same way they treated me. You should want to smoke- well, I mean, if you
smoke-"
   "I know what you mean."
   "What brought this on ?"
   "Well, you know that everyone but me who Darlene invited to the party smokes.
Even Ms. G."
   "She invited Diane ?"
   "Yeah. Don't ask."
   "Now I really wish we could crash your party. She's so hot."
   "You should have flunked a couple of grades. You could have her for West
Civ."
   "With my luck I'd have drawn Mr. Andropolis. He is still alive, isn't he ?"
   Kim laughed. "It gets harder to tell every day. I heard he fell asleep
yesterday while Ken Ophman was answering a question about the Reformation."
   "Well, if Ken is still like he was when I knew him, who could blame Mr. A. He
could put a cup coffee to sleep."
   "Well, the point is, I'm always like, I don't know, the odd woman out, you
know ?"
   Bob finished his cigarette, deep in thought. He lifted his head and smiled
that roguish boy smile which made it impossible to believe at least a few of
the freshmen girls weren't mildly interested.
   "A little advice. I thought a lot more about smoking before I started, you
know ? I mean, why do they do it, what am I missing, am I just being stubborn.
It was starting to drive a little bit of wedge into my friendships. I mean, I
said that it was no big deal, but you know how guys are. You talk tough, but
inside, there's still an analytical human being, who gets pissed off when
people think different. Which is stupid. I mean, we could all think different
a little more often. But once I started, I understood smoking a lot better. I
never get up in the morning wondering why the hell I smoke, the way I used to
when I didn't."
   "Smoking as piece of mind ?"
   "Peace of mind, maybe."
   "Well, that's a cool theory, but how do I test it out ?"
   "Meaning that you're too stubborn to let your friends in on your
experimentation. But you told me that you've tried it with Darlene already."
   "And I told her I tried it with you. It's such a seamless lie even I believe
it now."
   "Well, I wanted to go see `Good Will Hunting-'"
   "You ?" Kim asked incredulously.
   "I heard there's a good fight scene at the beginning. Want to come ? We can
swing by Wal Mart and I'll get you a pack. Marlboro Lights 100s or Virginia
Slims ?"
   "ML 100's. Those VSs look too skinny."

   The part of Kim which she would have described as childish was holding her
pack of cigarettes with a sense of awe and excitement.
   Well, actually, she had two packs. The second one was Bob's way of wishful
thinking.
   "If you're still smoking come Sunday you'll want a fresh pack for the party,"
he'd told her as he'd bought them.
   The other part, the right brain half of her personality, was looking at this
same pack of cigarettes with a little bit of the horrific.
   `You're going to SMOKE those ?' it asked chidingly.
   "Yes I am," she said aloud.
   "What ?" Bob asked, bewildered.
   "Sorry. I was just thinking out loud." She pulled the cellophane tab and the
wrapping came undone. She pulled it off the cardboard box and jammed it into
her coat pocket.
   "Now remember. Don't try to inhale. And you can't smoke the whole cigarette
in thirty seconds. The first time I lit one, I thought it was never going to
burn down. Try to be patient, okay ?"
   "Yes, Bob. I have seen people do this, you know ?"
   "I know. But I don't want you to hate your first cigarette."
   "What makes you think I would ?" Kim asked innocently enough.
   "Well, I know I did. God, if I'd judged it on that first experience, we
wouldn't be sitting here now."
   "That's some pep talk," Kim teased. "Anything else I should know ?"
   "Yeah. I'm glad you're going to try it."
   The lighter flared to life. The cigarette caught.
   Kim was surprised at how little the world changed. The cigarette was lit- she
was smoking, more or less. The stars did not plummet from the sky. The world
did not stop its patient revolutions or cease to spin around the unfeeling
sun. If not for Bob's slow smile, she would have thought she merely had
blinked.
   "Well, I didn't set the car on fire-"
   "That's a start, little one." He pulled from the parking space, put his
blinker on, and Kim studied the burning cigarette.
   It was just like so many other burning cigarettes which she had seen over the
years, excepting that this one belonged not to Bob or Darlene or her mother,
but to her. It patiently spent itself, oblivious to what she might choose to
do with it.
   The truth was, it looked good in her hand. Like it belonged there. The long
straight whiteness between first and second fingers was a sexually explicit
stimulant. She felt herself becoming faintly aroused.
   Bob pulled into traffic, using the cigarette lighter to light his own
cigarette. She reached hers down to the ashtray and tapped at it with her
index finger. Ash obediently leapt from it.
   This was easy.
   "Are you just going to stare at it ?" Bob quizzed good-naturedly.
   "No," Kim answered. She brought the cigarette to her mouth, inhaled a
moderate amount of smoke, and held it short of her throat, following Bob's
instructions. To say that the cigarette tasted different than expected would
have been unfairly trite. It should have been harsh and unenjoyable, like the
smell that she associated with it- although she had for the first time noticed
that these cigarettes- like Darlene's- had a more pleasing scent than Bob's
harsher Camels.
   No, the taste was sweet, and in it there was a dozen sub-flavours, textures
Kim understood could only be experienced in this way.
   It would have been enough to do no more than this. She exhaled the smoke,
noticing with disappointment that the weak smoke which leaked from her mouth
lacked the body of Darlene's fuller exhales.
   "Bob ?"
   Brother looked at sister, understanding in his eyes.
   "The smoke changes when you inhale it. Your exhales will look different once
you start inhaling."
    "Really ?" Kim asked, intrigued. She certainly hoped so. It would be
embarrassing to emit such lame exhales in the company of so many smokers. They
would know it was just an act.

   So she inhaled again, and even though she knew Bob would not approve, she
allowed the smoke to slide down her throat and into her lungs.
   The difference was incredible. There was a sensation, an airy headiness that
was unlike anything she'd ever known. The urge to cough was strong but she
managed to ignore it, instead concentrating on the way she felt. High was the
only word to describe it properly. She held the smoke, expanding the moment
until finally she knew she must  exhale again.
   This time the stream of smoke jetting through her pursed lips was rich, full-
bodied. It tasted and smelled much better now than the first exhale.
   "I see you didn't waste much time inhaling. So what do you think ?"
   "I think that I'm intrigued, Bob."
   "Good. Now that you've ignored my advice, I'm at least glad that you're not
asking me to pull over so that you can throw up."
   "I pulled the smoke into my lungs, not my stomach."
   "Exactly."
   She inhaled again, and found it better than the first time. The inhale was
stronger and the faint aura of sexual arousal was stronger as well.
   "I like this," she said, speaking through her exhale.

   The space out front of the theatre was packed with people getting in one last
cigarette before their movies started. Bob lit his cigarette before getting
out of the car and Kim followed suit, knowing this was the real test. She was
going to be seen, in public, openly smoking. Certainly there would be people
here that she would know.
   They began walking towards the mega-plex slowly, savouring the way the
cigarettes tasted in the cold night air. And there, suddenly, standing alone,
was Ms. G, smoking one of her Benson and Hedges, looking- well, not unhappy,
but certainly very much alone.
   "Hi, Ms. G."
   "We're off school grounds, Kim. It's Diane."
   Kim took a deep inhale on her cigarette, wanting to see if her teacher would
say anything. She didn't. Instead she smiled at Bob.
   "It's nice to see the two of you together. What movie are you here for ?"
   "Good Will Hunting," Bob said, and Kim followed with "He heard there's a good
fight scene."
   She inhaled again, making a little show of her nose exhale.
   "Well, I heard that too, but I have a feeling that's not the focus."
   "Are you here alone ?" Bob asked, as though the thought of Diane without an
escort was unfathomable.
   "Yeah, actually. I live about two miles from here. It was such a nice night I
thought I'd take a walk and take in a movie."
   "Any chance that you'll join us ?" he asked, so eagerly that Kim was mildly
embarrassed for him.
   "Sure. We smokers have to stick together, after all."
   Kim found that she liked that. We smokers. Bob, Diane. 
   And me.

   The movie was better than Kim had expected, but she was feeling a certain
sense of unease.
   Diane was a nice person. There was no question about that. But she seemed to
be getting along with Bob almost too well. They laughed together at all the
right points in the movie, and Kim swore that a few times they seemed to be
leaning into one another.
   It was not a pleasant line of thought, even though Kim knew there was no good
reason for her unease.
   Nevertheless she was willing to suggest that they sneak into Fallen when they
walked out of Hunting.
   "You know, I really want to see that," Diane said, "but I could never go
another two hours without a cigarette."
   Bob smiled openly at that. "Besides, I hadn't told Kim, but we're
celebrating. Trent's Angst is playing an all ages show at the Liborium, and I
was going to take her."
   "I love Trent's Angst," Diane said, lighting her cigarette as Bob held the
door for her. "But what are we celebrating ?"
   We ? Kim thought. 
   "Well, maybe you didn't notice, but Kim decided to join the adult race and
start smoking."
   "Well," Diane said, clapping Kim softly on the shoulder as she lit her own
cigarette, "I had noticed, but I didn't want to say anything. I mean, it's
such a natural thing to do that I figured it was no big deal, you know ?"
   Kim inhaled deeply, enjoying the night air and the way she was able to fill
it with her smoke.
   "Actually, it is kind of a big deal to me. I never thought I'd be able to do
it, but here I am, and you know what ? I'm enjoying myself a lot."
   "That's the way that it should be."
   They walked towards the car, the three of them leaving a dense trail of smoke
in their wake.
   "It's about Sunday, isn't it ?"
   Kim thought about that. When she'd agreed to do this with Bob, it had been,
in a way. But now, as she took another deep drag on the cigarette, inhaling
freely because she knew she could- and because of how it felt- she knew this
was really about herself. About finding something which could be enjoyed for
its' own merits. The perfect drug.
   "It's about doing something I really enjoy. I mean, it's going to be nice to
hang out with you guys on Sunday and not be different, but I would never have
started smoking just to be like everyone else, you know ?"
   "I do know," Diane said. "I used to be the same way. I was the last one in my
crowd to start and I always felt like I'd just be giving in to something
foolish. Until I tried it, and then I cared about whether other people smoked
only when I knew they were missing something they'd really enjoy. I've seen
you with Darlene so many times and all I could do was wonder if you knew what
you were missing."
   "I didn't," Kim said, as Bob unlocked the car. "So are you coming with us ?"
   "Of course. But you'll have to pardon me if I slip upstairs for a beer once
or twice."
   Bob agreed that he could do that.
   Then again, Kim had a feeling that there wasn't much Diane could do that
would bother him.

   The band finished their set and the DJ started a techno run. Diane had
slipped upstairs three times already and she was starting to show the affects,
in a pleasant, touchy-feely sort of way.
   At least for Bob.
   As the night wore on, Kim's resistance to what was happening diminished. Oh,
Diane was her teacher, and it sure was strange that she seemed to have a thing
for her not all that much older brother, but the pairing looked more natural
as time passed. Instinct told her that before the night was over, the contact
between them was certain to intensify, so Kim decided to start scoping for
friends. It wasn't so much that Bob and Diane were making her feel like the
third wheel- Diane at least was too polite for that- but Kim knew when to say
when.
   The place was packed, as always on an all-ages night.
   Kim lit a cigarette, slid the half-empty pack and her lighter into her front
jeans pocket, and started making the rounds.
   It took a certain skill to protect your cigarette in this sort of an
environment, but Kim found herself good at it.
   She also noticed that with each ascension of the cigarette to her lips she
attracted attention from the male members of the crowd. She liked that,
knowing that with each inhale she was drawing a boy or man into something
which, in a strange and voyeuristic way, they shared.	
   It was no surprise that as she watching this effect unfold, she literally
walked into Darlene.
   The cigarette was in her left hand, down by her waist and slightly behind,
where her friend couldn't see it.
   "Kim ?" Darlene said, yelling over the music. "What are you doing here ?"
   "I came to see Trent's Angst. What about you ?"
   "I thought Roland Pearson was going to be here. But he didn't show. I was
just thinking of bugging."
   "Why ?"
   "I ran out of cigarettes about half an hour ago, and-"
   Kim lifted her cigarette to her mouth and inhaled deeply.
   "You naughty girl ! When did this happen ?"
   There was no question Kim liked the sound of that. Maybe smoking was a little
bit naughty. And that thought made it even more enjoyable.
   She lifted the cigarette towards Darlene's mouth with her left hand,
extending it and turning her wrist back. Darlene's lips brushed her fingers as
she inhaled. She then tossed her head back and let go a long stream of smoke
which carried over the heads of the people around them.
   "Thanks. So tell me all about it-"
   "You're really interested ? I mean, it's no big deal-"
   "Of course it's a big deal. You getting cool on me all of the sudden."
   "I told Bob about the party, and that I was- well, a little nervous about
being the only non-smoker. He suggested we hit a movie, buy me some
cigarettes, and see if I liked it in a low-pressure sort of atmosphere."
   "Is the jury in ?"
   Kim inhaled again and then offered the cigarette to Darlene, who finished it
with a mighty inhale. She reached over to a nearby table and stubbed it out.
   "The jury is most definitely in- and I like it."
   To prove the point, she pulled the pack from her pocket. She could see the
eagerness in Darlene's eyes, so she took two cigarettes from the pack and
placed them between her moist lips, lighting them with casual ease. She left
one in her mouth, drawing from it as she handed the other one to her friend,
who took it gratefully.
   "Thanks, Kim." She leaned closer, moving so that they could both watch the
dance floor as the DJ moved to a slower, almost laconic dance tune for the
amorous part of the dance crowd.
   "You know, I never thought this day would come. You feeling better about
Sunday now that I don't have to worry about keeping my promise ?"
   Kim smiled. "Bob told me something that I already understand as being true.
He said that before he started smoking he used to think about it all the time,
how his friends smoked but he didn't. Once he started, he didn't think much
about it at all. I feel the same way. I know that when I walk out of my house
on Sunday with a cigarette in my hand, some of the people in the van are going
to be like you were- `Wow, I can't believe she  smokes.' Like it is really
something naughty- you know I like that word. But the truth is I don't think
it's a big deal anymore."
   Darlene hugged her friend spontaneously with the hand holding the cigarette,
arching her wrist carefully to keep it out of her thick hair.
   "That's the way it should be. Speaking of naughty- is that Bob with Ms. G ?"
   They weren't really dancing. In fact, they were just moving their feet in a
sort of half-assed way because they were too busy kissing. A few hours ago,
Kim might well have been mortally embarrassed. Now, the truth was that smoking
had changed her mind not only about how she looked at smoking, but forced her
to evaluate all of her uptight tendencies.
   Not that the thought of Bob shagging one of her teachers was devoid of
unease, but-
   "Yeah. We bumped into her at the movies, and one thing led to-"
   "Sex, it looks like," Darlene said in awe.
   "Well, not yet. But if you're really going to bail, maybe I'll do the old man
a favour and go with you. Why don't you stay a while though- get a pack from
the machine out front ?"
   "The only thing they have left are Newports and Marlboro Reds. Not my brands,
you know ?"
   "I can see where you'd get attached to one more than another. Let me just pry
Bob off Diane long enough to let him know he's free-"

   They were sitting in the store parking lot, talking. Darlene was on her third
cigarette and Kim on her second. Her throat was dry and her mouth was coated
with the taste of smoke. She knew it would be a while before she could match
Darlene's output, but it gave her something to work towards. Still, she had a
fresh pack in her purse, and with any luck, she'd be able to wake up in the
morning and light a new cigarette from that pack.	
   "You a little dizzy ?" Darlene asked.
   "A little. I've smoked a lot."
   "You're naughty, all right !"
   The two girls laughed. Naughty would be their catchword for the next few
weeks, but Kim was growing to love the sound of it attached to her. She'd
never been naughty. It felt great.
   "You'll get used to it. Have you thought about what you're going to tell your
parents ? As if it would be a problem-"
   "Dad's out of town for the weekend. His frat has a Super Bowl reunion every
five years. They all get shit faced and- well, he'd never admit it, but I
think they hire a stripper to come in and- you know-"
   "A male stripper ! I knew there was something I forgot. Remind me to make a
call in the morning."
   "I don't know," Kim said hesitantly.
   "It'll be naughty-"
   When the two girls stopped laughing Kim promised to call her no later than
eight.
   "AM ?"
   "Yeah. I don't plan on saying anything to Mom. I mean, I know that she'll be
waiting up for us, but I'm just going to walk in the house with a cigarette in
my hand and see what she says."
   "That's bold."
   "Nah. Mom'll probably pretend she didn't see anything. In about a week,
she'll casually mention that she's noticed I started smoking and ask me if
everything is okay. I'll say sure and that will be it."
   "Well, let's test that out. I have to get home so that I won't be too pissed
when you wake me up."
   As Darlene drove her home and they talked small talk and joked about what was
going to happen now that Bob had an in with one of her teachers, Kim wondered
if things would really go as smoothly as she hoped with Mom. Fifteen minutes
was all the time she had to think about it.

   She lit her cigarette just before getting out of the car, said goodnight to
Darlene, getting one last naughty girl out of her.
   She was still laughing as she walked into the house.
   Kim went straight for the living room, drawing deeply on the cigarette and
she came into view. She continued over to the coffee table, tapping the ash
off the cigarette into the ashtray by her mother's end of the couch. She then
plopped down in the easy chair opposite.
   "Thanks for calling from the club. It's just like Bob to not leave me a note
or anything. So how was the movie ?"
   Kim inhaled again, smiled. "Great. We ran into D- Ms. Grenaldi before it
started and she watched the movie with us."
   "How's Diane doing ? I think it's so nice that she came back here to teach."
Mom leaned forward, pulled a Virginia Slims from her pack and lit it casually.
Her inhale was so deeply sensual that Kim found herself taking notes on her
style.
   "Maybe you should ask Bob. They're still at the club."
   "Really ?" Mom asked, surprised. "No nose ring. No tattoo. What could he
possibly see in her ?"
   Thy laughed.
   "She's really cool, Mom."
   "I guess I won't wait up. When Bob gets on the shag-"
   "Mom !"
   Her mother drew deeply on the cigarette, standing up and stretching. "Am I
wrong ?"
   "Well-"
   "Look, it's important, getting that older woman thing out of your system.
Your dad had quite an affair with one of his professors just before we started
dating. It did wonders for him."
   "Mom !" Kim chided, not really wanting to think of her dad as a college-aged
lothario.
   "Honestly, honey, you do need to chill out a little. See you in the morning."
   That was it ? Kim's prediction had been meant as an off-handed way of dealing
with the potential stress of the encounter, not as a presage.
   "Mom, is there anything you want to ask me ?" she said as her mother made her
way towards the stairs.
   She stopped, turned her still-young, lineless face to look at her daughter.
Her deep blue eyes were all smiles.
   "Not at all. Have a good night. Turn out the lights when you're done down
here, okay ? And no smoking in bed, all right ?"
   Kim promised yes and no and watched the coolest mom on the planet head for
the stairs. 	


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