Through the Back Door

(by, 14 April 2001)

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Through the Back Door

     I've always been daddy's little girl.  Ever since my birth, I have been 
dad's favorite daughter.  It was even my dad who gave me my name, Rhonda.  
We both have brown hair and brown eyes, although my hair is long and he has 
a mustache.  I share most of the same interests with him.  He and I both 
enjoy sports and camping.  We are also very competitive, more than my mother 
or sisters and especially competitive to each other.  Overall, my father is 
my favorite of my two parents and the ideal person I want to be when I grow 
     My mother and I get along, although it's not the ideal mother-daughter 
relationship.  She's nice and motherly and everything, but we just don't 
have a lot in common.  But, she's my mother and I love her.  The only major 
problem I have with her is she smokes, a lot.  Being around her I've noticed 
that she smokes at least four cigarettes each hour.  I've heard her mention, 
when socializing with others, that she smokes three packs a day.  Since the 
third grade, when I learned about the negative affects of smoking, I've been 
trying to get mom to quit.  For over three years I tried several tactics.  
At first I destroyed her cigarettes.  Unfortunately, those actions got me 
grounded several times.  Dad always made sure my groundings follow-through.  
After that, I started arguing.  I never get grounded for arguing but it 
doesn't help our relationship.  For the past two years I have refuse to 
fetch her pack of Camel Lights 100's, lighter or ashtray when she's 
requested.  I've talked to my dad about this several times, but he says it's 
her choice and will not intervene.  Although my dad doesn't smoke, he 
doesn't talk to her about smoking.  He'll even hold her while she's smoking 
if we're watching a movie or something else.  I just wish my mom would quit 
so she could improve her health and everyone else's.
     Along with my lovable dad and heavy-smoker mom, I have two younger 
sisters.  My sisters are Teresa, who is ten, and Valerie, who is eight.  My 
sisters look more like and share more interest with mom than I do.  Unlike 
me, Teresa and Valerie have short curly blonde hair.  The only difference in 
looks is Teresa eyes are green and Valerie's are blue.  Mom's hair is also 
blonde, but is straighter and bobbed, along with blue eyes.  Although the 
three of us get along and share a bedroom, Teresa and Valerie are much 
closer to each other than I am to either of them.  The only problem I have 
with the two of them is they show no support in wanting mom to quit smoking. 
  Anytime I start an argument with mom about quitting, the two of them stay 
quiet.  Never once have I heard either of them wanting her to quit.  Worse, 
they still fetch her cigarettes, lighter and ashtray for her when she 
requests it.   I know my getting mom to quit would be much easier if those 
two would for once, take my side and ask her to quit.
     Along with my family, I have three good friends.  My friends are Karen, 
Denise and Jenny.  The four of us have been friends since the second grade.  
Our parents allow us to go somewhere most Friday nights.  Along with going 
out, we have a monthly sleepover at someone's house.  Karen and Denise's 
parents are non-smokers.  It's always a relief to be at one of their houses 
for the evening.  Jenny's single mom is a smoker.  Although she understands 
the environment I live in, she says little against her mother's smoking.  
Through my observations, I have noticed that Jenny's mom makes less than the 
other three families and therefore is limited in activities.  In the summer, 
I only see Jenny at a sleepover because her mom can't afford to let her play 
softball are other activities like the other we can.  Jenny never talks much 
about the lack of money in her family.  Overall the four us are great 
friends with little that could come between us.
     My dad has been taking me camping since I was ten. For the past two 
years, campouts have been my favorite activity.  Dad agreed to take me 
camping on the weekend school got out for the summer.  On Friday, the last 
day of school, dad picks me up after school.  He drives us to a state park 
an hour away from home.  Over the next two nights, we cook food over 
campfire, take hikes in the woods and enjoy the peace and nature of the 
outdoors.  For me, I especially enjoy the outdoor air, for it smells cleaner 
and better than our smoke-filled home.  After lunch Sunday afternoon, we 
start taking down the tent.  By 3 p.m., we are ready to go home.
     We arrive home at 4 p.m.  Dad tells me he would take care of the 
camping gear and I can go inside.  I walk through the front door, into the 
living room, and turn towards the dining room table.  My jaw drops to the 
floor at what I see.  My mother was smoking; that didn't surprise me.  
Sitting around her were my sisters, both holding freshly lit cigarettes in 
their hand.
     "What are... Why are you both smoking?" I ask, trying to find the 
right question.
     "Mommy let us," replies Teresa while Valerie takes a puff on her 
     Turning my aggression to mom, I argue, "How could you let Teresa and 
Valerie start smoking?"
     "It's easy," replies my mother.  "After you and your father left, we 
had the weekend to ourselves.  After dinner Friday night, I sat your sisters 
down and told them they could smoke if they wanted to.  I offered each a 
cigarette and both accepted.  I taught both of them how to smoke that night. 
     "Both of them had three cigarettes that night.  The next day, we mostly 
stayed at home, only leaving to eat out and get movies.  Anyways I kept 
giving the girls cigarettes every two to three hours.  By the end of 
yesterday, Valerie had six and Teresa eight.  I've been allowing them to 
smoke a little more frequently today."
     "This is my sixth," states Valerie, smoke sputtering out of her mouth.
     "And my ninth," replies Teresa before cocking her head back to exhale.
     I was now angry with all of them.  "What could the two of you enjoy in 
something so disgusting as smoking?" I ask my younger sisters.
     Teresa answers, "They taste better than they smell, and I enjoy the 
feeling my body gets each time I inhale."
     Valerie innocently asks me, "Would you like to try one?"
     "No!" I declare, disgusted that my eight-year-old sister could ask me 
such a question.  "I don't ever want to do something that disgusting.  I 
can't believe the two you are so stupid to try it, and worse, like it.  I'm
completely shocked at you, mom, that you could teach them something so 
deadly.  Just leave me alone; I don't want to see you again!" I run to my 
bedroom and slam the door, angry at all of them.  I spend the night crying 
and beating my pillow.  My dad doesn't come in to comfort me, but instead 
leaves me alone.  My bedroom now has two small ashtrays with a few butts 
from my sisters.  I hope I would never have to see my sisters smoke again.  
However, my sisters walk in at 9 p.m. to smoke their last cigarette of the 
night before going to bed.
     The summer went on and I had to accept my sisters were smoking.  
Although mom let Teresa and Valerie smoke, she gives both of them limits.  
Neither one was allow to smoke in public or in front of adults and relatives 
at home.  Furthermore, she set limits to their habit.  Valerie is allotted 
three packs a week and Teresa five.  Because of these limits, I only have to 
watch them smoke two to three times a day.  They also have to smoke our 
mother's brand of Camel Lights 100's because she doesn't want anyone to 
figure out there are other smokers in the house.  The worst part about my 
sister's smoking is they smoke in the bedroom we all share.  Although our 
family could afford a three-bedroom house, my parents believe our sisterly 
bond is more important.  Because my father had a $60,000 job, our family can 
afford the extra expense in cigarettes.  It seems I am the only one who is 
bothered by my sisters' smoking.
     Family nights are the worse when it came to Teresa and Valerie's 
smoking.  Family nights will usually consist of either a home activity or 
some public activity where mom could smoke.  Family nights outside of home 
remain mostly normal.  Those inside the home are a different story.  First 
of all, mom gives extra cigarettes to my sisters on these nights so they can 
smoke at a faster pace.  Therefore I have sit through and survive three 
smokers instead of one.  Worse, I have notice my dad paying more attention 
to Teresa and Valerie than me on family nights.  I know he loves all three 
of us equally, but he always had favoritism for me until this summer.  
Seeing him pay more attention to Teresa and Valerie made me more jealous of 
their stupid decision to start smoking.
     One example I remember of how disgusting their smoking had become came 
three weeks after they started.  Our family went to Pizza Hut for dinner 
that night.  We sat in the smoking section like we always did.  Dad ordered 
a medium and large pizza.  For the next thirty minutes, we sat and 
socialized.  Mom was chain-smoking during the wait.  Dad was looking around 
the restaurant when I wasn't talking.  My sisters seem fine conversing among 
themselves.  The pizzas arrived and we ate.  Typically, My sisters and I 
cannot finish the large pizza dad provides us.  That night, Teresa and 
Valerie couldn't stop eating and were still fidgety after eating.  My mom 
took her time, eating and smoking her way through the evening.  By the time 
we arrived home, two hours had passed since we left.  Teresa had the house 
keys in her hands on the ride home.  As soon as the car parked, Teresa and 
Valerie jumped out of the car and rushed for the front door.  By the time I 
reached the dining room, the two were taking giant puffs on their cigarette 
every ten seconds.  The two are truly addicted to smoking, and their habits 
are now a permanent fixture in our family.
     As filthy as my sisters' new habit was, I still have my non-smoking 
friends to spend the summer with.  I decided early not to tell my friends 
about my sisters' smoking.  Over the summer we came together several times 
and each host one sleepover.  The first one was at Jenny's house.  The 
second was at Denise's house.  The third was at Karen's house.  However, 
Jenny did not come because she was grounded at the time.  Finally, a week 
before school started, we are to have the sleepover at my place.
     None of my friends have been to my house this summer, and I don't want 
them knowing the truth.  I ask mom if she could give my sisters limits or 
have dad take them somewhere.  She says that she was not going to limit them 
around my friends and that my friends would have to accept the two of them 
as smokers.  On the night of the sleepover, I accept the fact my sisters 
were going to smoke around friends.  During the night, my friends receive 
several glimpses of my sisters smoking.  Karen and Denise reactions are 
negative, especially to how young they are.  Jenny is more neutral to my 
sisters' new habit.  Somehow, I survive the nightmare of hosting the 
sleepover.  I will be glad when school starts, for this is a summer I wish 
to forget.
     The first day of seventh grade has finally come.  Today is also my 
first day of middle school.  Since the bus comes forty minutes earlier, I am 
out of the bedroom before my sisters start smoking.  I am in homeroom about 
seven minutes before it starts.  Outside the window I can see about ten 
middle school students smoking across the street.  The teachers on the 
school side of the street do nothing but watch.  I learn later on in the day 
that the school has no authority to enforce smoking policies off of its 
grounds.  Therefore, students have the liberty to smoke across the street.  
I can also see that the students show more concern about their looks now 
than in elementary school.  Hopefully, the environment of middle school will 
be better than my seven years of elementary.
     A week later, Jenny approaches me in the hall.  "Rhonda, Can you stay 
over at my place Labor Day weekend?" she asks.
     "I'll have to tell my mother, but I'm pretty sure I can," is my reply.
     "Great," states Jenny.
     "Have you asked Karen or Denise?" I ask.
     "No," she states quickly.  "I just want it to be the two of us this 
weekend.  Catch up a few things without them."
     I reply, "Alright.  See you Friday night."  I come home that afternoon 
with mom telling me I could stay with Jenny Friday night before I asked her. 
     She says Jenny's mom called earlier today to talk about it.  My mom and 
Jenny's mom are probably the closest of the four friend's mothers.
     On Friday night, mom drives me to Jenny's house.  After she drops me 
off, she stays for fifteen minutes to socialize and smoke with Jenny's mom.  
The two of us socialize in her bedroom for a half hour.  After that we have 
a dinner cooked by Jenny's mom.  Jenny has planned for the three of us to 
watch a video that night.  Jenny and I sit on the couch while her mother 
sits in a recliner.
     "Jenny, could you get me a cigarette," says her mother pointing to the 
pack next to her.
     "Sure mom," she says.  She reaches for the pack of Marlboro Lights and 
pulls a cigarette out.  Then, she walks towards her and hands it to her.  As 
Jenny's mom lights her cigarette, Jenny pulls another cigarette out of the 
pack and places it between her fingers like a smoker does.  When her mother 
was finish with the lighter, she hands it to Jenny.
     "When did you start smoking?" I ask with a bit of angriness.
     Pulling the cigarette out of her mouth, Jenny replies, "About three 
months ago.  Shortly after the sleepover here."  Jenny then blows a stream 
of smoke into the air.
     I choose to keep the subject quiet for now, since the movie was 
starting.  I also want to talk more about this in her room away from her 
mother.  During the movie, the two pass the pack back and forth.  Jenny 
smoke four times during the movie and her mother six.  After two hours, the 
movie ends.  We have some ice cream before going into her room.  Jenny goes 
to her mom's bedroom to get a fresh pack of cigarettes, a lighter and an 
ashtray.  Inside her room, she opens the window and lights the first 
cigarette from her pack.  After two minutes, I decide to question her.
     "Why did you start?" is the first question that comes to my mind.
     "I was curious," she starts.  "I've seen my mom smoke around me all my 
life.  Last year, I heard some classmates saying that they have tried it and 
it wasn't as bad as the health books said.  I figure if my mom and sixth 
graders could try it and be fine, why couldn't I?"  She takes a puff while I 
ask my next question.
     "Did your mother let you try it?" I ask.
     "No," she replies after exhaling.  "I sneaked a few cigarette away from 
my mother each day before she would go to work.  After a month, I started 
taking full packs from her carton.  She finally noticed in late July and 
grounded me for a week.  That's why I missed Karen's sleepover."
     "Then why does your mom let you smoke in front of her now?" I ask.
     Finishing her exhale, she states "After a week of being grounded, I was 
still successfully taking cigarettes from her.  So, she realized that she 
couldn't stop me and decided to just let me smoke."
     "Why don't you quit?" I ask her with a touch of arguing.
     "I like it," she says, flicking some ashes off.  "Besides, lots 
students are trying smoking.  You've seen several of them across the street 
at school; and there's a lot more you don't see in public."
     Now I was curious about who smoke.  "Does Karen or Denise smoke?"
     "No," answers Jenny.  She pauses to brush her blonde hair back and to 
take another puff.  "Besides, I invited you because I thought you would 
understand the best, considering your mother and both of your sisters 
     "Just because my family smokes doesn't mean I accept their habit as 
justified."  I say with anger.  "I wish they would all quit, just like I 
wish you would quit."  I do not want to lose my friendship with Jenny 
tonight so I ask if we can change the subject.  We do, not talking about 
smoking again for the remainder of the sleepover.  Jenny becomes 
conservative with her habit after the talk, only smoking six more times 
before mom picks me up Saturday afternoon.
     I told my mom that Jenny was smoker.  No surprise was the fact she was 
already told by Jenny's mother.  I decide to let Jenny tell, or more likely, 
show Karen and Denise that she is a smoker.  The next weekend, my dad took 
me on our last campout of the summer.  During the school week, I spotted 
Jenny smoking twice across the street.  This Friday, my friends and I agree 
to go roller-skating.  Jenny's mom agrees to pick us up that night.  First 
she picks me up.  Then she picks up Denise.  Finally she picks up Karen.
     Once the car left sight of Karen's house, Jenny lights a cigarette.  
Within a minute, Karen and Denise each hands three dollars to Jenny's mom.  
Jenny smiles and pulls out of her small purse two packs of Marlboro Ultra 
Lights and hands one to each.  I just couldn't believe it.  My two friends 
from non-smoking families are both lighting a cigarette.  Angry more at 
Jenny than the other two, I declare, "I thought you said Karen and Denise 
didn't smoke?"
     "We started last week," says Karen while rolling her window down.
     "How could you?" I ask Karen.
     "Jenny invited us to a sleepover last weekend," answers Denise.  "She 
showed us that she was smoking and allowed us to try it.  We both were 
curious."  She turns her head away to take a puff and inhale.  "Beside, 
Jenny said you didn't seem bother by her smoking."
     I choose to not reply.
     "Miss Grayson, could you buy Lights next time?  I want to try something 
stronger," Karen asks.
     "Sure thing," replies Miss Grayson.
     Denise follows, "Could you buy 100's for me next time?  I want to try 
longer cigarettes."
     "No problem," answers Miss Grayson.
     Miss Grayson drops us off at the roller-rink.  However, we spent the 
next two hours looking around the stores near by.  Twice, we went somewhere 
secluded so my three friends could smoke.  Denise and Karen buy mouthwash at 
a department store near the rink.  Jenny's mom comes to pick us up.  A 
minute later, four ladies are smoking on the ride home.
     Finally I ask, "How are the two of you going to keep your parents from 
not knowing you smoke."
     Denise exhales a plume of smoke pass her dark red hair.  She says, "Not 
to be rude to you, Miss Grayson, but every time we are around Miss Grayson 
or your mom, we smell like smoke anyway."
     Flicking he ashes out the window, Karen continues.  "All we have to do 
is clean our mouth and hide our cigarettes and our parents will never know."
     "What if I tell," I quickly snap.
     "You won't", declares Jenny.  "You're too good of a friend to do that.  
Besides, you were too ashamed to tell us about your sisters smoking."
     She is right.  I do not want to be the bad friend and rat on them.  
Karen and Denise are dropped off at their respective homes before I was.  I 
choose not to tell mom about Karen and Denise smoking that night.
     I now have six smokers to deal with instead of one from a year ago.  
The next eleven weeks consists of personal readjusting for me.  Because 
school days ate up seven hours of smoking time, mom increases Teresa and 
Valerie limit to counter for the weekends.  Valerie now smokes four packs a 
week and Teresa six.  Now I see the two smoke four to five times each day.  
As for my friends, Jenny continues to smoke outside the school.  Denise and 
Karen would join her but their parents still do not know and can't risk 
teachers ratting on them.  Jenny, Denise and Karen spend every Friday night 
together.  I attend less often, not wanting to be the non-smoker in a smoking 
group.  I attend both Karen and Denise's sleepovers when they came fall 
semester.  Both of their parents know Jenny smokes but assume that Karen and 
Denise are innocent friends of her.  By November, Jenny is smoking a pack a 
day.  Denise and Karen are buying two packs a week.  Karen smokes Marlboro 
Reds and Denise smokes Marlboro Lights 100's.  Worse of all, my father 
spends less time with me.  He's either working more or spending more time 
with my sisters.  I'm tire of getting loo . . . forgo . . . ah hell, piss on 
by everyone.
     On the first weekend of December, my mother decides to invite my 
friends for a weekend long sleepover.  She convinces each parent that it was 
the perfect opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.  On top of that, my 
father has a business trip that weekend, therefore being gone until Sunday.  
That means I have to deal with six smokers without a non-smoker for an 
entire weekend.
     My friends arrive at my house from six to seven.  Karen arrives first, 
follow by Denise.  After Denise's parents leaves, she gives the green light 
for my sisters to smoke.  She also gives my friends a pack of their prefer 
brand.  Jenny's mom has already informed her about my friends as smokers and 
knows my sisters smoke.  Around seven, Jenny and her mom arrive.  After Miss 
Grayson leaves, the six of them continue a long night of smoking.  My mom is 
pacing four to five cigarettes an hour.  My sisters and friends are at two 
to three an hour.  I am not enjoying the evening at all.  Whether it's 
eating dinner, watching television or playing on the computer, I am not 
enjoying it.  Worse, my mom makes sure I'm doing what my friends want to.  
However, my sisters and friend have left me out of the conversation and I 
have little to say.  Around nine o'clock, everyone lights up a cigarette.  
Denise finally asks me something.
     "Are you having fun?" she asks.
     "No!" I boldly state.
     "Why not?" asks Jenny.
     "Because . . . Because you all keep smoking around me and disgusting me 
and ignoring me and just being flat out rude to me in everyway."
     "And how's that any different to what you been doing to the rest of us, 
Honey" replies my mother walking to the family room.
     "Because I'm not the one being rude to everyone by smoking," I answer.
     "And what's so rude about doing something one likes?" Teresa asks 
before taking a puff.
     I answer "Because its disgusting and unhealthy."
     "And relaxing and comforting and fun" Karen finishes before flicking 
her ashes.
     Mom continues, "You're so bent on those health books being right that 
you've never questioned the other side of the issue.  Those health books 
have run you down to the point that you've nearly ruined every relationship 
and friendship you have."
     Mom is right; they all are right.  I've nearly separated myself from 
everyone just because each one I knew smoke.  Mom exhales a plume of smoke 
before continuing.  "Honey, we want you to accept what we like.  However, it 
seems impossible for you to do so unless you try smoking yourself.  Try it a 
few times this weekend.  After that, you should understand a little about 
it.  Then, if you don't want to do it that's fine with all of us."
     "Please, try it," nine-year-old Valerie says as she crushes her 
cigarette and exhales.
     "Alright," I say, finally giving in.  Mom hands me a cigarette from her 
pack.  She tells me to suck on it while she lights it.  My first cigarette 
is spent simply puffing and blowing the smoke out.  Teresa was right when 
she said last summer that they taste better than they smell.  Around 
ten-thirty my mother offers me a second one and I accept.  During this 
cigarette, she teaches me how to inhale smoke.  It takes me three tries to 
finally inhale smoke without coughing.  Although I dislike the coughing, 
everyone tells me it is just my lungs getting use to the smoke.  I have my 
last one at midnight.  This time, I take too many inhales and get a buzz 
that kept me awake longer than I wanted to.
     The next day, I smoke five cigarettes.  My body gets used to the nicotine 
with each cigarette.  I also learned how to light my own.  The last one was 
the best.  All my friends were smoking and we were having great 
conversation.  It was the first cigarette I truly enjoyed.  On Sunday, I 
worried about telling my dad about smoking.  I am still neutral about it, 
but not enough to not do it Monday.  I also don't want to lose the closeness 
to my dad because I may continue to smoke.  Dad comes home at six.  After 
dinner, I choose to tell him about the weekend and still wanting to smoke.  
He says that I was old enough to make my own decision on smoking and any 
decision I make, he would support.  I'm glad to have a father so supportive 
of me.
     At Christmas time, my friends help my mom by picking a brand for me.  
Since my friends all smoke Marlboro and they knew I still wanted to be 
athletic, my mom gave me a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights 100's for 
Christmas.  Although I consume the pack quicker, I enjoy the fact that they 
are healthier and choose to make them my brand for now.  Through the two 
week Christmas break, I average seven to eight cigarettes a day.  My habit 
is only half of Valerie's fifteen-a-day during the break.
     Today is the last day of seventh grade.  A lot has happened since the 
Christmas break.  Over the past months, I learned that Mom had planned on me 
being the first smoker when I was twelve.  She also planned on me teaching 
Teresa to smoke and for Teresa to teach Valerie.  However, I was too 
stubborn in getting Mom to quit for her to even try to start me.  Since she 
couldn't get me to start directly, she went around and through the back door 
by starting both my younger sisters.  Jenny did a similar thing.  She 
couldn't get me to start, even though I was in a smoking family, so she went 
through the back door and got our two friends of non-smoking families to 
start.  Reflecting on myself, I, too, went through the back door.  I spent 
so much time and effort resisting everyone wanting me to smoke for enjoyment 
that I eventually needed to smoke to amend all my relationships.
     My family life has been much more pleasant now that I have started 
smoking.  I'm getting along with my mom and sisters again.  I also noticed 
Dad has given me the extra attention I've been missing from him.  I've also 
notice that he is the one most excited when family night comes each week.  
He always takes off work an hour early and spends plenty of time with all 
three of us children that night.  As for me, Mom set a limit for me of seven 
packs a week at Christmas break.  Although I'm allowed that much, I've yet 
to smoke that much.  My thirteenth birthday passed on February the 
thirteenth.  Along with a birthday gift, Mom gave me the freedom to smoke in 
public.  I've used this freedom very little, but I appreciated it.  The only 
other major incident in our family came in March, when Teresa got caught 
smoking at her elementary school.  She was suspended for five school days.  
During the suspension, my parents grounded her to her room for the whole 
week.  Worse, they limited her to just five cigarettes each day.  To ensure 
we wouldn't sneak any into her, Valerie and I had to sleep in the living 
room that week.  We learned quickly we were not smoke in the school.
     My friends and I are back to our normal selves, only we're all smokers.  
The four of us still went out most Friday nights to give Karen and Denise 
plenty of smoking opportunities.  In March, Karen's parents finally caught 
her smoking.  Karen had to rat on Denise to lessen her punishment.  When
Jenny and I found out, we knew their parents would limit our opportunities to
visit them.  Therefore, we asked Miss Grayson and my mom to talk to their
parents.  Both set of parents were shocked to find out that I smoke, for
Karen and Denise had yet to tell them.  Our moms convinced their parents that
grounding wasn't going to stop the two from smoking and they would just have
to accept this change in their life.  Fortunately, their parents did.  By
April, all four of us could be seen before and after school smoking across
the street.  During the last two months, we started to make two more smoker
friends through conversations across the street.  Because of their parents
knowing they smoke, Karen and Denise now smoke four packs a week and are
allowed to smoke outside the house.  Two weeks ago the six of us enjoyed a
two-hour session of smoking and socializing on her porch.  My socializing has
improved greatly now that I'm a smoker.
     Tonight, my family is going out for pizza.  Mom has decided we are to 
celebrate the last day of the school year.  Tonight, Mom gives 
eleven-year-old Teresa the freedom to smoke in public.  She also tells 
Valerie that she will have her freedom next year.  She also increases or 
limits.  Valerie can now smoke five packs a week, Teresa seven, and I eight, 
even though I yet to reach my previous limit.  I have yet to smoke in public 
with my family.  Since Teresa would smoke there, I decided I had to as well. 
  The evening is excellent.  After we are seated, Mom and Teresa light their 
cigarette.  I wait a few minutes before joining.  As I am smoking, I notice 
stares from all around the restaurant.  I also notice Dad spending more time 
focusing on us than around the room.  Throughout the dinner, Mom smokes 
seven times, Teresa three, and I two, still shy about smoking in public.  
The evening is hardest on Valerie, who has to watch the three us smoke and 
cannot do so herself.  I now symphonize with her for I now know her pain.
     This weekend, my father and I are going camping.  Mom makes sure I have 
three full packs of cigarettes before I leave.  I am nervous about smoking 
around dad because I'm still not quite sure how he feels.  We do not spend 
as much time playing sports anymore.  Instead, we play more board games and 
other less athletic activities.  He still helps me with softball, the one 
athletic sport I still play.  We reach a state park and choose to camp 
there.  We pitch the tent and gather firewood for tonight.  Around nine 
o'clock while we are sitting around the campfire, I finally ask him.
     "Dad, does it bother you that I smoke?" I ask him while enjoying a 
     "No, Rhonda, actually, I enjoy watching you smoke," he replies.
     "How do you enjoy it?" I ask curiously.
     "Like your mom, you look attractive when you smoke," he answers.
     "What about Teresa and Valerie?" I continue asking.
     "They're more towards cute," he replies.  "The difference is you're a 
teenage developing into women.  Therefore, smoking is making you more 
attractive rather than cute."
     "Then why haven't any boys ask me to go somewhere or even kiss me?" I 
ask desiring an answer.
     "Just give them time.  They'll see you as attractive soon enough," he 
finishes.  "Tell me something, do you like smoking?"
     "I guess," I respond.  "I mean I enjoy it when I'm socializing are 
relaxing at home, but I don't like being stared at when I smoke and I don't 
want to do die from it either."
     "I see," he says.  "The stares you'll have to get used to when you 
smoke.  Just remember that some of the stares are stares of attraction 
towards you being a smoker.  As for the other part, the only way you're not 
going to die from it is to eventually quit."
     "But if I quit, everyone will treat me poorly again.  I don't want that 
to happen," I say.
     "I understand, plus I doubt you could quit with the other three smoking 
around you" he says and thinks for a while while I crush out my cigarette.  
"How about this.  You continue smoking until you move out or go to college.  
This way, you can enjoy smoking around all the smokers you know now.  When 
you move out, you may find yourself a smoker among non-smokers and find the 
environment in your favor to quit.  I promise you mom won't be unhappy with 
you if you quit after you move out.  Finally, it will give me a chance to 
watch my favorite daughter develop into a beautiful female smoker."
     I like his plan.  I can smoke now and enjoy it and worry about my 
health later.  So, I will remain a smoker for my next five years.  The plan 
will please everyone, even Dad.  Besides, I'm daddy's little girl.

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