“When I’m good, I’m very good, and when I’m bad, I’m even better” – Mae West
This picture was taken by my friend, Jen. We were 20 and backpacking through Europe, surviving on bottled water and granola bars, but on this particular day we were in Amsterdam and won a bet we made with each other. Our mutual reward was an actual meal. I guess we were pretty excited by the aspect of, you know, food, so we were in good spirits. We caught the attention of two random Russian men who spontaneously purchased us roses because they said they liked our animated conversation.
Well that kind of thing only happens in movies or commercials for cheap perfume called “Impulse,” so we were throughly impressed with ourselves and celebrated our awesomeness by lighting up a cigarette.
See, we grew up in the early 70’s and 80’s. Everyone smoked. Everyone. I can remember my mom blowing cigarette rings and my brother making his Star Wars action figures fly through the rings. When my mom went to the bowling alley she would buy her smokes and then I would get a quarter to buy the candy cigarettes from the last slot in the machine. Can you even imagine that now????
So I always associated smoking with being cool. And bad. Which is totally fun when you’re normally a Pollyanna.
I kept it secret from my folks. Dad never smoked and Mom gave it up on the Great American Smoke Out when I was 10. I came home from Los Angeles, I was 25 at the time, and was the best man for my friend Mitch’s wedding. As part of my duties I threw him a bachelor party. But as I was the only woman, and a little bad but not stupid, I had my brother come with me for safety. Anyway the party was fun but my brother was shocked to see me smoking.
AND HE RATTED ME OUT TO MY DAD!!!
Have you ever had to endure a lecture from your own father? Not fun. Now consider a lecture from your father when you’re an adult. Even worse!
“Lisa, you know your aunt died of cancer, right?”
I rolled my eyes, “Yes, but-”
“And your mother’s two best friends now have cancer.”
Sighing deeply, “I know, but-”
But despite my eye rolls, loud sighs of annoyance, and silent revenge plotting against my brother, my Dad continued speaking. “You know how many times your mother tried to quit before she finally did. Why would you do that? Why do something that causes cancer and heart attacks? You’re a smart girl, why would you do something so incredibly stupid?”
I was pretty embarrassed and angry about the whole situation.
But I never smoked again either.
Because he was right – smoking is stupid. It is excruciatingly difficult to quit once you get hooked, smells bad, makes your skin wrinkle and tends to give you nasty, painful diseases.
Today is the Great American Smoke Out. If you needed a specific day to quit, how about today? If you have someone in your family who is a smoker, why not have a conversation with them about it? They will probably roll their eyes, and sigh annoyed sighs.
But they also might quit smoking.
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