Smoke does not get in my eyes

nicotaniaThis is a picture of a Nicotiana plant, a close cousin to the tobacco plant used to make cigarettes. It has beautiful, fragrant flowers that bloom in the cool of the night. (Spearmint in the pot and Cereus behind)

The odds are if you are in my generation (I’m 65) or older, you grew up with cigarettes as a ubiquitous prop. My grandparents and all their friends smoked as they played bridge at the weekly games–cards in one hand, cigarette in the other, smoke spiraling up past blinking, squinty eyes. Afterward, the ashtrays were spilling over with butts and crumpled empty packs.

I started at the age of 14, sneaking a smoke back of the church, with Kools or Pall Malls stolen from my friends’ parents. All the way through high school I looked forward to going to college so I could smoke when I wanted to. I never got over a half a pack a day, but I did enjoy the cigarettes I smoked. During those years I smoked menthols, nonfiltered hand-rolled, slims, and the ‘millimeter longer’ brands. The last brand I smoked were Benson and Hedges.

And, so I smoked for twenty-five years until I quit cold turkey. But, somehow I miss it. When I see a movie where a character lights up, I inhale deeply, pucker up my lips, and blow out my imaginary smoke. I remember sitting at night on the porch relaxing, watching the breeze drifting the smoke to be one with the universe. I miss the smokes after a good meal–kind of like a good belch. And, oh, the taste of a whiskey and cigarette kiss!

Without addressing the nature of the consequences of smoking cigarettes, it can so easily be romanticized. I guess that’s the lure of it.


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