I smoke occasionally. Some days I don’t smoke at all, some days I have two cigarettes, or maybe three. You can start pelting me with molten hot charcoals at any time. Hell, everyone else is.
When I was a child, both of my parents smoked. Really, in the ‘50’s through the ‘70’s, everyone smoked it seemed. It was so normal to see people with cigarettes in their hands then, because they were as ubiquitous as water bottles or cups of coffee are now. Although it seems scandalous now, the amount of smoking that goes on during each episode of “Mad Men” is accurate to the period of my childhood.
I said I would never smoke when I was young, because I inhaled so much second-hand smoke during my childhood, and it was pretty unpleasant. I would come home from school, open the back door of the family apartment, and walk into a hazy, fog of smoke that floated at just about mouth level. Mom would have been home all day chain-smoking, and the place was similar to Los Angeles on an air quality alert day. Burn marks lined sinks, counters, armrests of chairs and coffee tables, because with all of the cigarettes consumed along with alcohol, there were bound to be accidents. I recall quite clearly the lesson of trying to have the last sip of my father’s soda, only to find out that he had put out his cigarette in the can. So, so disgusting!
However, college days came along, with home sickness, stress, new insecurities and being without rules for the first time. I had experimented with cigarettes during high school here and there, for reasons that escape me now, and by college had developed a regular smoking habit. I would quit smoking during college breaks at home, but then get back to school and be surrounded by a bunch of roommates who smoked my brand, and before long, I was back at it.
Over the years, there have been periods of time where I smoked a number of cigarettes a day, and then other times when I quit altogether. At this point, I still crave one or two a day. Of course, leaving the obvious conversation about cancer aside for the moment, society’s views on cigarettes have changed so much that there are many limitations on where one might smoke. And I have rules for myself regarding when and where I have them, so I keep the number down, and cause the least amount of inconvenience, if any, for others. I never smoke in my house, car or in the homes of anyone – except for the home of one friend who is herself a heavy smoker. That limits me to our porch, the stairs outside of work after hours, Davin’s porch, and the occasional park bench or parking lot.
Yet lately, I have gotten more crap from every possible source than I ever thought imaginable. I am a grown-ass woman, and yet everyone on earth feels entitled to lecture me about something which does not affect them in any way. I see people doing any number of things that are bad for them, which I won’t even bother to list ad nauseum, because that will make me sound just as patronizing and lecturing. I know that it’s a bad habit, and eventually, I will quit it altogether. But being nagged and told what to do by a bunch of people is not helping my anxiety, which is part of the reason I smoke in the first place – it actually has the exact opposite effect.
I realize that this is an anachronistic and unpopular thing to do, but I don’t run around telling other people how to live their lives, and I would be thrilled if other people stopped treating me like I am kicking puppies. Oh, but I guess that I’m just asking for the impossible. I deserve the abuse, because I am clearly the last wicked person on earth.