Right now, I’m thinking of smoking a cigarette. I have a chronic sore throat, which is probably from sinusitis, hopefully not cancer. It doesn’t always hurt, but I need to drink something every time I smoke. That means I also want a drink. That drink could be whiskey, but then I’ll think about smoking again.

Smoking for me is more than a chemical thing. It’s a relationship. Probably the steadiest relationship in my life. Smokes have been there for me during every mandatory 15 minute break, every drug experience, every late night conversation, every all-night programming binge. They’ve been there sharing the best conversations with the best friends of my life for 90% of the last 17 years. There isn’t an important day of my life, that there wasn’t a cigarette to share it with me.

Smoke, stoge, butt, fag, stick, bomb, Camel, Dunhill, Marlboro, Wills, Gold Flake, Drum, Three Castles, Davidoff, Shermans, Chesterfield. The best is Dunhill. It always has been since I could get packs for $2 in Berkeley from the liquor shop on 51st and college which served anyone (sorry dude, everyone knows anyway…). The first I ever smoked was one of my dad’s unfiltered Pall Malls.


Show and tell

We walked into school late, as usual. I had an orange hand-held Donkey Kong game with a big crack in it my mom got from the dump. I could play it for hours at night in my sleeping bag and flashlight when no one was looking and I had the night before. With wide open eyes covered in frost, feeling the air slamming around them I ran from the car. A tattered brown paper lunch bag, smelling of tofu sandwiches from the previous week and stale corn chips tore and crunched in my left hand, trying to stay with me.

Numbers, colors, painting, blocks, a story about cows or tractors or airplanes. My feet dug themselves into the floor as I craned my neck to check the clock. 8:30. My navy blue padded cloth boots had a 3” tear on the left side. It was my secret weapon to ensure I put them on the correct feet. I examined it for 15 minutes. Then a song - I mumbled and lip synced along nervously.

The curtains opened and it was time. Ezra went first. New soccer ball, new cleats, new shoes - curly hair and dimples. Blond Abby - some ugly doll which cried. Jeff got a Patriots starter jacket. His thin black hair stuck to his scalp while his wild blue eyes jumped around.


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