At one time, I used to be a pretty good writer. Prose, poetry, speech…I sort of had it all. Sister Devereux, my Grade 10 composition teacher, used to give us whole classes off to go exploring. She called it “walking barefoot in the grass”. To search for, and hopefully discover, our writing talents. Only rarely did I ever fail to bring back the goods.
At the time, I loved poetry. I’d mimic Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter. I’d do haiku. I’d dabble in just about every poetic form, including stream of consciousness (which I think was a pretty big thing back then). I think that probably on more than one occasion I’d forget to to back to class, and even back to school, at the end of these field assignments. Not that I really wanted to be “bad”, but I thought that not coming back at all was just a logical extension of the exercise.
Besides, there was my best buddy, Eugene “Gene” Randall. He was way cooler than I was, skipped way more classes, and introduced me–at the tender age of 15–to the pleasures of illicit tobacco. At first he’d just let me have puffs of one of his. Of course I didn’t inhale (to start with). Soon I was smoking an entire cigarette on my own. Eventually, I’d manage to get enough cash together, so that Gene could go into the local confectionary and buy me very own pack of cigarettes.
And of course, I pretty much assumed that my mom and dad could not smell the odor of tobacco smoke on my clothes. What, with smoking one, at the most two, cigs, there was no way anyone would be able to get that I was now a smoker. And I was very careful to watch for, and clean off, the nicotine stains on my fingers.
Things haven’t changed much. I’m still living on the edge. Jan, my sweet wife, would probably say I’m pretty much entering my second childhood.
Ah well, at least I’m not buying. Back to bumming OPC (other people’s cigarettes) and only inhaling sometimes.