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The White Owl Cigar Incident

The incident's a little hazy now. Lost in the mists of time. Or smoke perhaps is more like it. I was 11 or 12. Me and the guys had just finished shop class where we'd been working on Mr. Carpenter's project of the month - gluing four planks of pine together to lathe into a bowl. We took shop at St. Thomas Aquinas, a French school, every Thursday and then me and my buddies hoofed it back to Queen of the Angels, about a half-hour walk, where we attended Grade 7 the rest of the week. I felt especially good that day. I was sporting my brand new desert boots. We called them deygo boots because wherever you went dey go to. For 12 year-olds we were pretty funny.

I recall it was a cool crisp day and we stopped into the corner store just yards from the school where we loaded up on blackballs, ju-jubes, licorice and bubble gum. We liked this convenience store because they also sold us matches and 5-packs of Export A cigarettes.

We exited the store and to a man, er boy, we lit up. Ah, what a feeling. We crossed the road and proceeded on our way chatting about such worldly issues as winning the city Catholic softball league championship the week previous.

We walked along Bank Street immersed in our discussions when - oh my God - my mother! This memory is crystal clear. I looked up and that familiar two-door 1963 bottle green Pontiac Acadian turned the corner in front of me with my mother at the wheel. Well, shit, I didn't know what to do. Later, much later, she told me she found it difficult not to laugh when she saw the expression on my face. She said I didn't know whether to drop the cigarette on the ground, throw it into the air or swallow it. You see I'd forgotten my lunch at home and kind ol' Mom decided to bring it to me. Wasn't that sweet? Uh-uh.

I wasn't sure what was worse: her catching me smoking or her catching me smoking in front of my buddies. Her words "I'll see you after school" sat with me the rest of the day in class.

I arrived home after school to find my Mom sitting at the kitchen table. My Dad - thankfully - was out of town on business. In front of her was a one big, nicely wrapped, White Owl cigar. She told me to sit down and to unwrap the cigar. Hell, I thought, if this is my punishment for smoking then bring it on.

Mom wanted to see if I smoked properly. Ha, I thought, how great is this. So I lit up and proceeded to puff away. Pretty soon the air was blue with cigar smoke. Just then a neighbour knocked at the kitchen door. He'd come to borrow our card table for a bridge game he was hosting that night. He saw the cigar sitting in the ashtray between my Mom and me and didn't say a word. It must have been a humorous setting for him.

My Mom asked me if I inhaled. This just gets better I thought. Sure I inhaled. Wanna see? So I drew the cigar smoke deep down into my longs and even exhaled through my nose.

But something was happening. The smaller the cigar got the worse I began to feel. I wasn't so sure I wanted to inhale - or even smoke - this cigar any more. But Mom still wasn't content that I really knew how to smoke properly so on we continued.

I started to moan and held my head in my hands. "Please, Mom, can I just go to bed."

She relented. She gave me some adult-type sermon about the evils of smoking (although both she and Dad smoked like chimneys) that at that point kinda sounded a lot like that teacher in the Charlie Brown TV specials: "wanh-wanh-wanh-wanh-wanh".

I tried to nod my head but it hurt. I lifted myself delicately out of the kitchen chair and headed down the back hall towards my bedroom, attempting to put one foot before the other, my hands out on the hall walls to hold myself up, and vowing I'd never smoke again.

And then it happened. My head began to spin. My vision blurred. A weird rumble emitted from my stomach. And then, in horrendous slow-motion, I threw up everything I'd eaten that day. The blackballs. The ju-jubes. The licorice. Like a rocket this effluent came. I closed my eyes and hung my head and it darted from my mouth...and onto my brand new shoes.

My brand new desert boots...ruined. The only place those deygo boots were going was into the garbage. And I wouldn't smoke again...for at least three weeks.


Cruella Collett said…
Tee hee - a friend of mine had her parents do this to her, but in that case they used regular cigarettes (though an entire pack). I think in her case it also worked for a longer period of time...

Too bad your mother didn't catch your face on tape. Threats of showing it to all your friends might have been enough to keep you from smoking forever ;)
nonamedufus said…
Cruella: I think the dye was cast as both my parents were heavy smokers. A year or so later they gave me their permission to smoke. I remember my exasperated Dad saying "I'll give you my permission, but not my approval".
Quirkyloon said…
I'm trying to remember if my Mom sat me down with a six pack of Pepsi Light. However, like you, it didn't work.

Me and my addiction are quite happy together. Although I did mix it up and made it my own by changing to Diet Dr. Pepper.

Thanks Mom!

Anji said…
Your mum was wise. Mine let me get on with it, but I never, ever got past the throwing up stage.
nonamedufus said…
Quirks: Gosh, Quirks, sounds like me and Ca Lady have to come over and host an intervention for you!
nonamedufus said…
Anji: Sometimes a lesson best learned is one we learn for ourselves...the hard way.
Linda Medrano said…
I was on the bus going to work, and I passed two kids about 9 or 10 sitting on the curb smoking. Holy Shit! One of them was my son! We had a long talk about the evils of smoking, and oddly, he's never done it again. He's 44 now so I think the odds of him starting are slim.
nonamedufus said…
Linda: That must have been a shock for you. Your son had me beat by about a year or two. I finally kicked the habit in my mid-40s, about the age your son is now.
vickilikesfrogs said…
Oh were BORN to tell stories!!! My mom caught me once. My best friend was spending the night at my house and we were in the bathroom, sneaking smokes. My mom had to pee. Into the toilet went our two butts and our two matches...and we FORGOT to flush!
nonamedufus said…
Vicki: Well at least if you got sick like me you didn't have far to go!
00dozo said…
Guess you were just a little "green" of how one goes about smoking a cigar, eh?

I had smoked Colts and Old Ports from time to time. Here they have "Backwoods" that are about the same size (with no tip), but are very aromatic.
nonamedufus said…
00dozo: Green doesn't begin to describe it. In my early 20s it was cool to smoke Colts and Old Ports.
Leeuna said…
Dufe, this story brought me back to all the times I puked from smoking when I was a kid. It never stopped me though...I just learned to quit puking. My mom caught me once and I put a lit cigarette in my jacket pocket. My advice to kids? Never do that!
nonamedufus said…
Leeuna: A lit cigarette in your jacket pocket? Not a good idea. That'd be a different take on a smoking jacket, huh?
K A B L O O E Y said…
What a pleasure to read. Until the vomit part because I'm a wuss that way. But really a great post, like a little Barry Levinson movie.
Nicky said…
Sigh. I started when I was 11 and I'm 41 now. I've stopped, sometimes for several months, but I've always gone back. 2 questions: What made you decide to quit and how did you finally do it "for real"?
nonamedufus said…
KABLOOEY: I'm glad you enjoyed it. At my age the details from my youth aren't always crystal clear. But I think this incident was pretty accurate.
nonamedufus said…
Nicky: I stopped and started several times, one time quitting for a year. What made me quit was I had returned to work after being home sick for several days. I wasn't 100% but decided to go back to the office. First thing I did was bum a cigarette from a co-worker. I thought I was going to pass out. I returned home and never touched another cigarette.
Ziva said…
On my 18th birthday I tried a cigarette for the first time ever. I hated the taste and haven't touched one since. I'm a big wuss like that.
CatLadyLarew said…
I'm starting to feel nauseous just reading this! Your poor desert boots... I remember my first pair.
00dozo said…
Guess you were just a little "green" of how one goes about smoking a cigar, eh?

I had smoked Colts and Old Ports from time to time. Here they have "Backwoods" that are about the same size (with no tip), but are very aromatic.

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