I feel like this is one of your best pieces, Anna. Beautifully told. And of course I related very well to it, especially the what to do with your hands part. I actually began smoking when I was nineteen to look older and more sophisticated. I would sit with my legs crossed one over the other, holding my head up high and looking above it all. The only problem with that was that classmates thought I was stuck up and didn’t bother talking to me. I wrote a story about isolation here.
I always smoked a pack a day and went back and forth from Newport (menthol) to Tareyton 100’s and less often Sherman’s. It’s been so long I had to look all three up! I loved smoking, but for some reason the thought of having one before noon was nauseating to me. I never thought of quitting because back when I smoked, it wasn’t known yet how bad they were for us, and the surgeon general’s warning was only cigarettes may be harmful to your health. At least that’s what I remember.
In 1979, I went to an after hours club with some friends in Venice, California where we were served drinks, cigarettes, and marijuana. There was no ventilation in the room, and I couldn’t breathe. I seriously could not get any air into my lungs that didn’t burn like hell. I also couldn’t see past the smoke, and my eyes were burning, as well. I may have lasted about a half hour before I had to leave.
That night I had my last cigarette (if I don’t count the half dozen I bummed off friends during the next few years). So of course my advice to anyone who wants to quit is to go stand in a room filled with cigarette and marijuana smoke until you can’t stand it any more. Seriously!