I Can’t Deny That I’m ‘A Smoker’ Anymore( Or That Cigarettes Actually Make Me Feel Cool)

Back when I wore Juicy tracksuits sincerely and had yet to reclaim Adidas. When my sex encyclopedia was written exclusively by Carrie Bradshaw and a few friends older sisters. When Id merely started to induce asserts on what was sexy and chicthats when I had my first cigarette.

I was 14, and I was perched in a fuzzy white hammock on my very lavish then-best friend Lanas very lavish bedroom terrace. She was tall and blonde and thin as a rail and beautiful. And she owned Pucci Moon Boots.

We used to buy the thin, crunchy kind of breadsticks before watching Breakfast At Tiffanys so we could feign they were just like the cigarette holders that made Audrey Hepburn look so damn glamorous. And we figured if we tried the real thing, marriage feel like movie stars, too.

After all, Carrie smokedand Carrie was fucking. She was smart and sexy and had unbelievable clothes and a cool career. Wed fantasize about our future love and how our relationships would be devastatingly intense, just like Carries, and how theyd be all the more cinematic when wed ruminate about them over a smoke, just like Carrie.

We knew smoking was bad, of course. Lanas mom smoked, and shed tell us it was badthat she wished she didnt. That she hoped wed never start. My mama used to smoke, tooback in her twenties when she did marketing for Marlboro. I dont know if I knew shed ever picked up a cigarette back thenshe probably excluded that detail. But shed tell me horror stories about the fates of her friends whod ask her for free cigarettes. We knew about lung cancer and emphysema. We knew smoking was bad. But hell, we new drinking was bad, too. And god knows wed already started to sneak into our parents liquor cabinets.

***

Lanas mom would conceal her Marlboro Golds all over the housein little nooks she thought wed never find. But no nook is too hidden for a couple of adolescents who want to try something bad. Eventually, we find a pack.

I still remember that blinding hurry-up of adrenaline. Those wicked giggles we whispered as we sprinted to her terrace to weigh our gold. How we felt like vindicated offenders as we kicked back on that fuzzy white hammock and turned our smug grins to Park Avenues midnight sky and lit our rich. How we felt every bit as glamorous as wed foreseen. How we felt like movie stars.

That was seven years ago, and I still remember.

***

In high school, most of us would puff social smoking. Maybe a few stolen cigarettes a year. I never made a habit of itneither did Lana. But that rebel chic rushing never fadedthe novelty never died.

But after some time, I let it creep in more than a few times a year. Two decades ago, I started buying my own cigarettessomething marriage vowed on that fuzzy white hammock wed never do. We were smart daughters. We didnt want cancer or emphysema or kids whod look at us with disgust when we stepped out on family period for a smoke. We didnt want to get addicted. We didnt want to be. We just craved the image once in a while.

Until I started craving the nicotine. Until, last year, I started buying my ownnot just once in a while, but once a week. Until I started to alleviate stress with my Marlboro Golds. Then with Camel Blues. Then Parliaments. Then Golds again. Then American Spirits. Golds. Blues. Reds. Sprits. Parliaments. Reds. Back to Golds. Until I smoked enough to try on all sorts of cigarettes. Until my smoke is a component of my brand.

Often, I realise how chic I feel with a cigarette in hand. Its painfully stupid, trust meI know . . And I want to live a long, healthy life. I dont want to raise eyebrows with the stink of smoke when I step back in the office after a coffee break. I want to run around with my kids without having to stop to catch my breath. I dont want to be a smokerI never did. Damn, those images we pray to as kids are hard to shake.

But its hour for a new brand. Im too old for this shit. So fuck it: Im gonna quit.

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