Cool Kid

One of my coworkers was telling us earlier about finding smoking paraphernalia in his daughter’s room, and it reminded me of a funny story.

As I’ve mentioned before, I entered high school at the ripe age of 12 and was quickly overwhelmed at the social changes in my life. Included in my new activities was the daily chore of waiting for the city bus going home. I found this especially troublesome because the wait was usually a long one, which meant I had to do something I was not good at – socialize with people I didn’t know.

One thing I noticed pretty quickly was that kids had no trouble walking up to someone they didn’t know and asking for a light for their cigarette. This typically evolved into conversation, and since any conversation (even a halting one) was a challenge there was some appeal.

Of course, one of my fears at that time was looking like an idiot. So, I decided to purchase my very own pack of cigarettes so I could practice smoking while not looking foolish. Alone.

Editor’s Note: That was me in my youth – logical, methodical, and occasionally stupid.

I bought the cigarettes with no problem. (Granted, NYC law did have a thing or two to say about selling cigarettes to minors. They also had similar things to say about minors buying alcohol, but that never stopped the local bodega from selling beer to the neighbor’s 10 year old daughter because we were too lazy to walk to the store…

Anyway, my impromptu bus-stop market research said Marlboro regulars were the preferred brand so that’s what I got. I put them in my pocket and took them home, and brought them to school the next day. They sat quietly in pocket through all my classes and the ride home. After the bus (#9?) dropped me a mile from my house, instead of transferring to the (#41?) bus that would drop me up the block from home, I walked so that I could conduct my first experiment.

I ripped open the top of the package. Step one complete. I then tried getting that first cigarette out.

And tried again.

And tried some more.

And got pissed off and threw the pack in the trash.

I wasn’t familiar at that point with the casual tap tap tap that loosened the cigarettes and caused a couple to ease out of the top for easy grabbing. No, in this case my logical and methodical self was trumped (once again) by my temper.

And I’m better off for it.

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