SOMETIMES, I SMOKE

by Laura

I, like many others from my generation, am fully guilty of being a shameless over-sharer. To be fair, it’s usually the consequence of two (or four) adult beverages swirling around in my belly, but still, I over-share nonetheless.

There’s one thing that I don’t talk to a lot of people about, though. Something that I find even more shameful than my Tinder addiction or weirdly excessive sweating. And much like the other subjects, it, too, only comes out after a few drinks:

Sometimes, I smoke.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not what you would call A Smoker. That phrase denotes a level of commitment and need that I straight-up don’t have. But with the right combination of stress and alcohol consumption? Well, let’s just say I can be spotted around 2:30 AM on many a Saturday night puff, puff, puffing away on the very instrument of my mother’s demise.

Yes. You read that correctly. Smoking killed my mother. More specifically, lung cancer brought on by a 40-year, two-pack-a-day addiction killed my mother. You’d think I’d know better. Actually, I do know better. I have seen what cigarettes do to people. I saw how difficult it was for my mom to quit. And then, I saw how difficult it was for my mom to die.

Which is why, for a long time, I gave it up. The smell of it on my fingertips, the taste of it in my mouth when I’d wake up the next day, the way the smoke seems to live in your clothes and hair for days on end–what was once simply unpleasant had become sensory triggers that reminded me of my mother’s illness and the addiction over which she was powerless. I swore I’d never even date a smoker again because kissing them tasted, frankly, like death.

The not-dating-a-smoker thing was the first rule to get broken. Because sometimes boys are so cute that you forget about how much the taste of tobacco on their mouths once bothered you. And then, eventually, at an office Christmas party, I could no longer consume any more booze but still needed something to bond with my co-workers over. And just like that, the drunk-smoking demon came out of its cage and has been wreaking havoc all over Manhattan and Brooklyn on a weekly-monthly-ish basis.

The point of confessing this isn’t to have people tell me how gross this is–of that, I am well aware. Nor is it to swear I’ll never do it again, because, well, we can see how well that worked.

No, all I hope to accomplish with this is to simply say that we’re all human, which means that we’re all stupid, but also, that we all have a vice (or three). I’m thankful mine is still firmly in “vice” category, and not a full-blown addiction, but I can’t judge anyone for whom it is. My mother was a good woman with one nasty habit. A habit that’s particularly enjoyable for many people out there, including myself.

That is, until it’s not.

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