Message modified by board administrator July 7, 2009, 4:28 am
I was always a very strong student, and I flourished at the small U.S. Midwestern university that I attended. I chose Biology as my major, with an emphasis in Human Anatomy and Physiology; I double minored in Chemistry and Psychology. By the fall of 1985 I was a senior, twenty-one, and one semester away from graduating with a B.S. degree, suma cum laude. I had been accepted via early admission to medical school and was on my way to becoming a physician (or so I thought at the time; I did go to medical school, but much to the horror of everyone I knew, I dropped out after successfully completing my first year to become - of all things - an artist!). My studies had deeply furthered my understanding of the many deleterious effects of cigarette smoking, and absolutely nobody that knew me ever dreamed in a million years that I would ever do something as "foolish, dirty, and self-destructive" as becoming a cigarette smoker. I was too intelligent. I was too well educated. I was too Snow White.
But with this kind of "incentive", how could the Bad Girl locked away inside of me not feel the pang of deep longing to experience the utter *Dark Bliss* of disappointing everyone around her? It was as if I had allowed myself to be placed on such a high pedestal by those around me that the urge to throw myself off it was becoming irresistible.
In a manner full of symbolism, I frequently studied in the student union in a large room that was divided into unwalled "smoking" and "non-smoking" halves (again, this was now the early to mid 80s). I would always sit in the "non-smoking" area facing the "smoking" area very near the arbitrary boundary between the two. I remember seeing all the same types of girls there that I saw in high school, only now they were fully grown Bad Girls. I observed with interest their various smoking styles and the brands that they chose, and I began to notice that a few of them were smoking something new and extremely elegant and sexy looking that I hadn't seen before - Virginia Slims 120s, which had just recently been introduced. I began to see displays for the new Virginia Slims 120s in grocery stores, and when I received my subscription issue of Vogue magazine shortly after, there was a three page introductory ad for them.
Another Sunday night rolled around, only this time I was an adult, alone in my apartment. And I was suddenly profoundly weary of living up to everyone else's expectations of me; and the smiling blonde girl reclining in the colorfully striped sweater and black tights with the extra long slim white cigarette held up above her head was the final seductive call I needed to act on becoming the Bad Girl that I so desperately wanted to be.
Snow White was about to get Dirty for the first time.
As I put on my coat to face the bracing cold of that late October night I could feel my heart racing and my head spinning with the realization that my life was about to change. Forever. The curiosity and repression that I had carried around inside of me for so long was about to literally go up in smoke. I virtually ran the thirteen blocks to the nearest convenience store open at that late hour, decided en route to try menthols first, and quickly purchased my first pack of cigarettes and a Bic mini lighter. I held them in my trembling hand inside my coat pocket all the way home, oblivious to the world around me. I was in a trance. I couldn't believe that I had actually purchased my first pack of cigarettes without some sort of world-wide alarm going off to alert everybody to that fact. There was no stopping me now.
I arrived home and locked the door. I was in shock as I undressed and changed into my favorite silk nightgown and robe. I realized that I did not have an ashtray, so I quickly improvised one out of aluminum foil. I lit some candles, poured myself a glass of wine to calm my nerves, and turned the radio on softly. I can still hear the faint echoes of the song that was playing at the moment that I turned the radio on: "West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys. I retrieved my first pack of Virginia Slims menthol 120s and new lighter from my coat pocket, fetched my improvised ashtray and latest copy of Vogue, sat down on the floor between the couch and coffee table, and set the collected items down in front of me.
For the longest time I just took in the scene of the collected artifacts of my fall from Grace, savoring the moment, simultaneously terrified and elated.
I considered at length the image of the sweet smiling face of the newest Virginia Slims Girl in front of my hungry eyes, and realized that I was becoming aroused like I had never been before. I literally shuddered with anticipation. I was about to become like Her, like Cheryl Tiegs, like the winking Virginia Slims Girls on the TV screen, like my defiant mother, like my beautiful aunts, like the pretty teachers from grade school, like all the Bad Girls in high school and college that I had always secretly admired.
And all I had to do was open the pack and begin.
I unwound the slim gold band, removed the cellophane top, opened the flip top box, pulled where the foil said "pull", and extracted my first Dark Angel in all of Her glorious length. I lifted it to my nose and took in the fragrance of the white cylinder, and instantly recalled my parent's closet and the beginnings of my journey on that cool autumn morning when I was five; only this time I would take the next step and light the cigarette in my hands!
I placed the cigarette between my waiting lips, and for many trembling minutes just practiced sealing them around the filter and drawing air through the unlit cigarette. The pleasant taste of unignited tobacco and menthol eventually encouraged me to take the next step, after most of my trembling had subsided.
I brought the little Bic lighter to life and lifted the faintly quivering flame to the tip of the cigarette that hung from my lips. I puffed gently as I watched smoke begin to drift up from the far end of the cigarette. I quickly removed the cigarette by grasping it between the index and middle finger of my right hand and puffed out the little cloud of smoke that I had pulled into my mouth. My first thought was that the smell of the smoke that was now wafting about me was different than I had remembered cigarette smoke smelling like before. I assumed that this had to do with tasting it as well as smelling it. I puffed lightly again and again, examining the subtle, bitter taste of cigarette smoke in my mouth for the first time. I was frankly a little disappointed at my first impression of the flavor of the cigarette that was now freely burning in my hand, but still elated that my initial smoking experiment was underway, so I puffed lightly again and again.
After about seven quick puffs I was becoming light-headed, and simply sat transfixed at the then surreal sight of the long, slim burning cigarette; my Cigarette, in my Hand!!!
Eventually, I decided that it was time to try to inhale some smoke.
I attempted to inhale way too big a puff for my uninitiated body; my throat seized violently, and I began to cough like I had never coughed before. My first cigarette ended abruptly, 1/3 smoked and crumpled in my makeshift ashtray with me running to the bathroom to evacuate the contents of my stomach.
After this, I was emotionally and physically wrought, and having had enough of an adventure for one day, I decided to turn in for the evening. As I laid in bed with my head spinning in the aftermath of my first smoking experience, I could feel a noticeable tightness in my chest from the little bit of smoke that I knew I had inhaled, and I could taste cigarette tar in my mouth for the first time.
Despite the initial physical setback that I had experienced, I was actually quite pleased with myself for taking the first steps to becoming a smoker. I knew that I would recover to try again tomorrow. This was not the end of the road, it was only the first step of The Beginning.
And as I drifted upon my introspective musings in the dark about the monumental evening that was, I released the energy of my earlier arousal with the now familiar soft caress that I had perfected over the years.
In my dreams that night, I smoked with the Bad Girls in high school.
Responses are not allowed!