Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cigarettes

Here is a paragraph from a best selling novel of 1922.

“Would the gentleman wish his breakfast served in the parlor or—No the gentleman would have it right in his bedroom; but first, where were his cigarettes? He hoped above all things that the waiter had not forgotten his cigarettes. Some people began their days with cold showers—nothing less than a cruel shock to a languid nervous system. An atrocious practice, the speaker called it—a relic of barbarism—a fetish of ignorance. Much preferable was a hygienic, stimulating cigarette which served the same purpose and left no deleterious after effects.”

In 1943 I was with my father when he had a massive heart attack. Shortly afterward the doctor told him, “You just smoked your last cigarette.” He had rolled his own.

In 1950 during my senior year at the Naval Academy a sample package of cigarettes was at the place setting of each of the 2600 midshipmen for the evening meal. Since I did not smoke I gave my package to a classmate seated at my right. Instead of thanking me he said, “What’s wrong with smoking?” He said it in an accusatory tone. I responded that I was not willing to be a slave to something 2 ¾ inches long and inanimate.

In 1971 our two car garage was a hangout for 80 different high school kids every day. The garage could hold about thirty kids at a time, all smoking. We kept it open for eight months. If I ever die of lung cancer or emphysema it will be because of those eight months. It was called “God’s Garage.”

No comments: