The contradictions a girl faces lead her down the path to become a smoker.
|It all started when I was eight years old. My class was taking a field trip to a news station to watch an episode of the news being filmed. Before the filming was to begin we were given a tour of all the behind the scenes stuff and we taught how cameras, green screens, and other behind the scenes objects worked. We then were put in chairs they had set up and allowed to watch a news broadcast being filmed live.
The station we went to was the local NBC station and this was the news my parents watched every morning. At the beginning of the broadcast the cameras were pointed at us and the newscaster, a beautiful woman in her thirties explained that my class was there to watch the noon news. The news was typical I believe, shootings, robberies, and then weather.
What was different was a bit in the second segment of the news where the woman explained a new study had come out about how bad cigarettes were. In hindsight, that was probably only on the news so that my class and I would hear that cigarettes are bad.
I was talking with a friend while our bus left the news station and then I saw her. The newswoman was standing out of the station and lit a cigarette. Hadn't she just told us that cigarettes were bad, why was she smoking now? On the way back to the school and for the rest of the day, all I could think about was her smoking, after she had told us that it was bad for us.
The next morning, my mom got me up and there the reporter was on the news, talking, as if nothing had happened. I looked at my mom and asked her. "Mom, why do people smoke?"
My mom looked at me, confused for a second, then answered with what I think she thought would be a good answer for her daughter to hear, but did nothing to quell my curiosity. "I don't know dear, some people are just stupid I guess." She told me, then took a drink out of her coffee.
When I was ten I found out my favorite teacher smoked. He was friendly, and all the students loved him. While leaving school late one day because I had stayed to hang out with my friend who ran track I saw him at the corner of the school with some other adults I did not recognize and he was there smoking. We had D.A.R.E. that year and the officer told us not to do drugs. He had told us they were bad for us and we should follow the example of himself and the teachers who didn't smoke, yet here was a teacher, someone I looked up to smoking. This caused the thoughts of the newswoman I had seen smoking two years before to come back to me, why did they smoke, I asked myself again.
It didn't help that near the end of the year Bobby, one of the class clowns, being the smart ass that he was, asked the D.A.R.E. officer when was the last time he drank and smoked.
The officer laughed and explained that he had tried a cigarette when he was young, and hated it, he never smoked again. As for drinking, he paused, I remember the pause, then he said he had a beer the night before. The class laughed at this but I was shocked, how could someone I trusted to not take drugs, take them? He tried to explain that he was an adult, but I tuned him out, I had lost my faith in D.A.R.E., one of the few things I really believed in.
When I was 11 I gained a new babysitter and she smoked. She had not mentioned it on her resume and told me to keep quiet about it when she snuck out to have one for the first time. I didn't tell my parents, I had been betrayed many times by people I looked up to smoking and I almost didn't care anymore. Even though I felt that way, one day the curiosity got the best of me and I asked her, why do you smoke, and her answer, well it stuck with me for some reason.
"I like to."
When I was 16 I found out an acquaintance smoked. She was someone at my bus stop, and she would smoke a cigarette every morning before the bus came, I watched and wondered, was she like my old babysitter, did she like it? Was that all it took? I didn't ask the questions, I was too scared to, but at this point, I had accepted that smoking was part of this world.
When I turned 18 I went into a local grocery store and did the thing that had been my destiny ever since I had seen the reporter that seemed so intelligent light up a cigarette ten years ago. I walked up to the counter and said, "one pack of cigarettes please."