Once when my girls were over for dinner, one of them asked, “Where’s the big salad bowl?” I replied, “Look up on the top shelf in the cabinet.”
“Oh”, they laughed. “Where you used to hide your cigarettes?”
“How did you know that?” I knew it was too late to deny.
“Mom”, they said, “Everybody knew that!”
I’m not proud of it, in fact, I hate to rat myself out, #IwishIneverhad, but I used to smoke cigarettes. Of course, not in public. Never in public, but I was definitely a full-blown closet smoker. I would go hours out of my way just to have 10 minutes with a Kent 100 Golden Lite. I had guidelines, mind you. I wasn’t just a ‘willy-nilly’ smoker, I had rules for my closet smoking, that were strictly enforced.
I never smoked during the school day. I didn’t want my students to smell it on me and think I condoned smoking. Self-righteous and hypocritical? Of course.
I never smoked around my parents. Once, I was in Amarillo visiting my dad and it was cold, windy and slated to snow. I had been cooped up in their small Assisted Living apartment all day, when at bedtime, I abruptly said, “Oops, I left something in the car, I’ll be back.” Of course, I had been planning my ciggy break for hours, so I had one cigarette, (no room for error) a lighter, car keys and a breath mint stuffed into my bra.
Next, I debated on whether to put on a coat and draw more attention to my outing, or just sprint to the car. I decided to sprint. Once outside, I realized it was sleeting. I got into my car, turned it on and cracked the window. I don’t know why, but I decided to lay down in the front seat so no one would see me. (what? A snitch in the Assisted Living?) I lay there in the freezing cold, shivering, waiting for the car to warm up and puffing away.
Pretty soon I hear a car drive up and park next to me. I hear two men get out and begin discussing the fact that a car (mine) was running and no one was in it and then they peeked in the window. Can I tell you that cigarettes make you do some crazy stuff? One of the men asked through the cracked window, “You OK?” I sheepishly said, “Oh yes, just taking a break.” ugh…..
So, I put out the cig, stood outside to get the smoke smell off and popped my breath mint before heading in. When I got back to my parents’ apartment, I just casually kept walking to the bathroom to wash my hands, when my step-mother said, “We were worried about you, we can see your car from the front window.” Ugh…..my walk of shame was now complete and to make matters worse, I did not enjoy one puff of my stolen moment.
You would think a grown woman could just tell the truth, but I could not. Cigarettes made me lie, cheat, steal and hide. I began to smoke thinking it was cool and here I was slithering around in the snow and lying to my folks.
Oh, the tangled webs we weave…
Never drive and smoke. It wasn’t so much a rule as a safety feature. For some reason, I could never drive, puff and flick the ash at the same time. I learned that the hard way when I flicked an ash and it flew back into the back seat. This happened to me while crossing the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. Everything turned out fine except for that little burn mark on the floorboard.
Last but not least was “Thou shalt deny.” I never admitted that I smoked, never carried cigarettes in my purse and always acted sanctimonious when catching a student with tobacco. My picture is next to hypocrite in the dictionary.
The good news is that closet smoking does cut down on your habit. It was too hard to sneak around to ever smoke more than 5 in one day. The best news is that I truly am now a non-smoker. The birth of my grandson was the catalyst. I never wanted to be a little old granny hiding out behind buildings or standing in alleyways, puffing a ciggy. My cold turkey quit was perilous at best but so worth the pain.
I want to be an active granny even in the nursing home. Not pulling my oxygen tank trying to sneak a smoke without blowing up the building. I’m not a hater, you’all. I truly understand the pull toward that green-eyed monster called tobacco. And if you really want to know the secret to break that habit, I’ll be happy to share.