Why I Decided Not to Smoke.
Non-smoking Family; As Far As I Know:
Years ago, when I was thirteen, I spent one of many weekends at my maternal grandmother's apartment in Brooklyn, NY. It was a sunny weekend day in 1975. I do not know the season, I cannot tell you which day it was, or what I had on, but I know it was the day I decided not to smoke cigarettes.
A few years before, my younger brother and I -- fueled by the no smoking campaign in our school -- in Queens, NY -- decided we would save our mother from dying from cancer by throwing out her cigarettes. We would have did the same thing to my father's tobacco to his pipe, but he never smoked his pipe. The pipe was a part of his dresser's decor. Actually, it looked nice.
One day my mother's older first cousin -- maternal and paternal. Two brothers married two sisters. -- came for a visit. She saw my brother and me take my mother's cigarettes -- when my mother was not looking -- and throw them down our building's incinerator shaft. Our cousin approached us -- as we completed our mission -- and told us we were wrong, and disrespectful. We informed her that we did not want our mother to die of cancer. She was stunned, a little more understanding, but still believed we crossed the line.
Once my brother and I returned to our apartment my cousin informed my mother of what we did, and why. We were scared. Cigarettes were cheaper in the '70s, but it still costed money, and my mother did not believe in wasting money. I thought to myself, We in trouble . Then my mother said,
"Y'all, should have told me this first. I don't really smoke anyway. I'll stop smoking. It's a waste of money." I do not remember my brother's reaction to this news -- and reprieve -- but I remember being so relieved. The thought of my mother possibly dying from cancer was not a good thought for me at all.
So, years later, on a sunny weekend day, while away from home I totally forgot I did not want my mother to smoke, because smoking was bad her health. I forgot that one -- myself -- might get cancer, and soon die. No, when I was approached to try to smoke by one of my maternal aunts -- yes I said aunt. Yes, she was horrible. -- and two of her friends. I said,
"okay", because I was thinking about the circle I could blow out.
You know, the circle most well practiced smokers make with each smoke blown out. To me the only cool part about smoking was when I watched people blow out the smoke and it would form circles. It was like watching a clown pull something from his mouth. Without getting cancer of course. Still, very entertaining -- well, to me.
To myself, I thought, if I cannot blow a circle I will not be a smoker . Always nice to stand for something or you fall for anything. Right?
One of the three delinquents passed me a lit cigarette, and I studied it briefly, and thought about how I would get that circle out and then look cool. I took a puff, I blew out, I coughed, then choked, there was no circle, I did not look cool, so I passed it along, and started to walk away. My aunt wanted me to stay and said,
"Girl, try again. It's okay. Everybody chokes at first."
"Na, that's okay. I did not blow a circle that's why I choked."
She and her friends started laughing so hard, and I began walking away again. When she -- my aunt -- called out again, she said,
"Girl, you crazy, that takes time."
I turned around, did not walk back towards them, but I called back and said,
"That's okay, I don't want to smoke."
I heard them still laughing, but they did not respond as I continued to walk away, hoping to find someone to hang out with who may be a smoker, but would not try to make me smoke as my own -- five years my senior -- aunt had tried.
See, I had no fear that my aunt would ever try to force me do anything against my will. She may suggest, but she would never force it on me. Though most people in my aunt's neighborhood was afraid of her, she was afraid of my mother, her oldest sibling. So, I was not afraid of her ....
So, I do not smoke today, because I could not blow out a circle with my smoke. Well, it may not be the best story to stop teens from smoking, but none of my younger siblings are smokers, and none of their children smoke. Especially the teenagers.
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