i made the mistake of not packing some kind of food item before i went to work today and, so, was forced out into the town at rush-hour to forage for dinner. the north county traffic was getting heavier as i steered my car indecisively around various strip-mall parking lots. at a stoplight, i turned on all things considered
and listened to a set of stories
with people reminiscing about cigarettes and the days when smoking was a lot more pervasive.
the first time i smoked a cigarette i was thirteen. there was a little shack, a kind of snack bar, in front of the PX (post exchange, for you civilians) that sold burgers and hot dogs and cold drinks. they had a couple of tables. we used to skate down to the PX to play the sit-down galaga
they had just inside the sliding glass doors. sometimes we would look at magazines or buy gummy bears but usually we just sat at those couple of tables in front of the PX.
one day, me and derrick and stuart and jason and, i think, tony were sitting there when a GI walked out of the PX in a hurry. as he passed our table, a pack of cigarettes fell from the armful of items he had just purchased. all of our eyes shot to the still-cellophaned pack and, rather than scurrying for it, we waited for the GI to drive out of the parking lot.
you have to remember, we were in middle school and he had just graduated from high school, so he was only a few years older than we were. the way we figured it, he probably wasn’t above kicking our asses for stealing from him. as soon as he turned the corner, we scrambled for the pack.
someone, i forget who, managed to go in and ask for a book of matches which were free and we skated to a playground about a mile away. there we sat, some of us on skateboards, some on the jungle gym, and jason in a nearby tree, with lit cigarettes hanging out of our mouths, not having fully mastered the whole inhaling thing. well, except for jason who had smoked before and even went around with a bottle of yellow cepacol mouthwash in his back pocket. in retrospect, i bet he just used to drink that.
when i got home i reeked of smoke and made up some lie about hanging out all day at the bowling alley. i don't remember getting in trouble but i'm sure the parents didn't buy the story. i could only have smelled smokier if strangers had put their cigarettes out on me.
: the pixies 'la la love you'
: susan sontag in america
: marjane satrapi persepolis