My First Cigarette

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My BFF Michelle* and I are hanging out at my house one weekend, trying to find something fun to do. Because we’re sophomores in high school, we’re trying to be a little bit bad-ass, but at the same time still play the Mostly Goody Two Shoes roles we’re so accustomed to. It gets a little boring making good grades, cramming into the photo booth at the movie theater by my house, and taping ourselves with my parents’ video camera while we sing along with INXS songs (“Don’t ask me/What you know is true/Don’t have to tell you/I love your precious heart/”). We want to do something really, really bad. Something way cool. Something we ordinarily wouldn’t do because we’re too good..

On this particular afternoon, we peer into my fridge. There’s the box of pink Franzia wine my mother has grown to love lately. It and milk are the two constants in our Frigidaire. This beloved box made its first appearance after my dad came out of the closet; because really, how else are you going to cope with your husband’s sudden revelation that he’s gay after 20 years of marriage? But the wine isn’t very appealing (I happen to love pink, but just not in a wine). Besides, we can drive through the Daiquiri Stop any old time (remember: this is New Orleans, people). We’re 15 year-olds, not wine connoisseurs.

On the kitchen table I spy a pack of my mom’s Benson & Hedges cigarettes. There are a few already missing from the pack and we decide Mom won’t miss another two. We each take one and scuttle up the stairs, two at a time, stealthy as mice.

We go to my room and lock the door behind us. We’re whispering and giggling. We’ve never smoked a cigarette before and we’re so excited about it. Frankly it’s a little hypocritical of me because I’ve been leaving my mom nasty little notes bitching about all of her smoking and non-mom-like behavior, like sleeping over at her boyfriend’s house. But the rebel in me still yearns to know what all the fuss is about.

We prep my room, thinking the whole time how brilliant we are. We open my window, which has a screen on it. We turn on my ceiling fan. We crouch together near the window and light up. We’re trying to breathe and puff and not cough too much. It doesn’t taste very good. It stinks. Our eyes are watering and we’re turning red from choking on the smoke. It’s getting really cloudy in my room. WTF? The damn screen is in the way, preventing us from really hanging our lit cigarettes out the window. The ceiling fan seems to be making things worse; it’s sucking the smoke back up into my room rather than expelling it. After several coughing fits and picking out bits of tobacco from our teeth, we stub out our cigarettes. And we realize with a sudden panic that my room reeks.

We’re looking at each other wildly, trying to decide what to do. We don’t have a clue. So we decide to call our mutual friend Joe*, who is in our class at school. Joe likes to smoke cigars and pretend to be cool. Clearly he must know how to remove the odor from his room. He can help us!

Michelle dials 834-9350. We know it by heart.
He answers on the third ring.
“Joe,” Michelle whispers into the phone.
“What do you want?” he asks with a sigh.
I huddle next to Michelle and our ears share the phone as she explains to him what we’ve been up to.
“You have to help us,” she pleads.
“Okay,” Joe says dryly. “Here’s what you do. Wet a big towel and swing it around the room a bunch. Then put some vinegar in each corner of the room. That should do it.”
“Thank you SO MUCH,” we shriek together into the phone before hanging up quickly to prepare.

I tiptoe downstairs to get the vinegar. Meanwhile, Michelle wets my bath towels in my shower and wrings them out. Then the two of us swing them around wildly, like we’re magician’s assistants for some sort of freak show. Each corner of my room has a Dixie cup of vinegar in it. As a result my room smells worse than before, if that’s even possible.

Fortunately my mom noticed neither the smell in my room nor her missing cigarettes; and if she did, she didn’t say anything about it. My guess is since she was a smoker herself, she couldn’t really detect the scent elsewhere.

As for Joe, he confessed many years later that he didn’t have a clue how to help us that day, but he knew how desperate and gullible we were.

*all names have been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty, as the case may be).

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  • Daffy

    Swinging wet towels??? HA! You bad girl you… I didn't try my first cig until college. Menthols if I remember right….ahh….those were the days…..

  • carissajaded

    The first cigarette… Love it.

    I don't remember my first cigarette, but I do remember the first time I smoked something. My friend and I decided we would make out own smokes out of rolling papers that we found and cinnamon.

    So to make a long story short…
    We got caught smoking cinnamon joints behind the schoolyard.


  • Tattoos and Teething Rings

    That's so funny, I smoked a few cigs in my late teens/early twenties but never liked them much. Now I can't stand the smell.

  • Margaret

    LOL that is too funny. I must have been a weird kid because I never tried anything like that. I was always the good kid.

  • Charisse and Holly

    Clove cigarettes were popular in high school. Djaram with honey (not sure of spelling). Used to smoke those on weekends with friends at parties. Rebel! Holly at

  • Reluctant Housewife

    I've never tried smoking.

    Both my parents smoked when I was a kid, though (my mom quit when I was 10 and my dad when I was 16).

  • Chanda @ The Eco-Cheap Mom

    LOL…the bad-ass goody two shoes girls! My question is, did you ever smoke again?

  • Lee the Hot Flash Queen

    hmm…I'll plead the 5th on this one. I was never a good girl when it came to those kinds of things…

  • Nicolasa

    OMG! This is hilarious! I love every single word of it!

  • Meeko Fabulous

    Wow! My first cigarette . . . I can't even remember! LOL I think it was behind the Savon!!!! LOL

  • Menopausal New Mom

    That is such a riot! I remember when we tried smoking the old Virginia Slims when we were in our early teens. We used to do it outside but of course, once we went home our clothes and hair was reeking since our parents didn't smoke. Always got caught!

  • Melissa

    Hahaha, that is funny. We would go on walks and spray an entire perfume bottle on ourselves after each drag.

    FYI- if you take a toilet or paper towel roll, stuff a fresh dryer sheet in at the end, and then blow the smoke threw that out the window, you should be safe. In case you were ever thinking of trying on the ol' bad ass hat again :) Works better for smoking other things… so I've heard

  • MJ

    What a picture this paints of our prim n proper Erin ;o)

    I remember going out back in the woods to be the "bad ass" but that only happened like 2 times. Never got caught since my parents smoked too (ugh to think of how I must have reeked at school – cigs n kerosene)

    Now I can not stand the smell of smoke at all!

  • mama-face

    You are such a great story teller. You need to write a book.

    Everyone needs a little rebellion at some point in their life. My mom and dad smoked; I hated it so much. I never had any desire to even try…if there had been alcohol in the house? Well, I don't drink either. Let's see…I think it was boys for me.

    It sounds like you have a lot of stories to tell. Can't wait. Now to try that phone number…area code please?

    Wet towels & vinegar! baha

  • Cynthia@RunningWithLetters

    Good story. I love the part where you are swinging the towels like "magician's assistants for some sort of freak show.' I'm also partial to the twist add the end where Joe dispensed bogus advice…Good stuff.

    And I somehow missed the plot line from previous posts about your dad…it kind of brings a new dimension to stories like last week's hotel escapade…it seems you've had an interesting life.

  • Matty

    You tell this story so well. I only ever tried a cigarette once as a kid, behind a friends house. After recovering from coughing and hacking myself to death, I never tried it again.

    Although they eventually quit, my parents smoked pretty much the whole time I was growing up, so I know what cigarette smoke is like.

  • kys

    The vinegar trick worked for me.

  • Stephanie Faris

    I tried smoking when I was 17. My friend smoked. We walked into McDonald's with our cigarettes. Someone gave us a dirty look and I never smoked again. Plus it made me choke like crazy!

    As for the smell, that's hilarious. When you said he told you to wave a wet towel around in the air and put vinegar in the corner, I was thinking, "He had to be messing with them!"

  • Holly

    I was (am) a good girl but tried a cigarette once. I never liked them because my grandparents, great aunts and uncles all smoked and their houses all smelled and their walls were yellow…but I had to try one. My parents were out of town and I thought I was being a badass with my friends – rollerblading and smoking…and then one of my parents friends pulled up in the drive way – not knowing they were gone – and I was caught. First and last time.


  • adrienzgirl

    I remember the first time, we stole a pack of smokes, generic something terrible cause the were where we could reach, snuck outside and lit up, only to quickly get busted. They made us smoke the whole pack, we turned green, and puked, and puked, and puked some more!

  • Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity

    Loved it! My favorite gay aunt was from New Orleans and one time at a young age I met someone who I thought was her "boyfriend." He had kids so I thought that she must not be really gay anymore. Later I found out he was a friend who was married and came out of the closet. Being that we are close in age, I hope it wasn't you or your dad! :)

  • Tracie

    I can just see you two swinging wet towels around trying not to knock over the cups of vinegar. Lol!

  • Coachdad

    I like Joe… good stuff!

  • blueviolet

    That Joe is a crack-up! He was smooth!

  • DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom

    I've never heard of that particular rememdy for smoke, but Joe may have been on to something. . .

  • Tater Tot Mom

    I tried to smoke when I was a teenager, finally I realized I looked completely stupid doing it. Guess I didn't completely learn my lesson though because I picked it up again for a few months in college. Cigarettes are expensive though and that got me to quit that!

  • Elaine A.

    That's hilarious! I love that Joe* was pulling your leg (and I figured as much). Only thing better is if he would have been outside your window watching you girls doing those things! HA!

    My first cigarette was a clove. I almost died.

  • Helene

    OMG, that's hysterical!! I was sitting here thinking "wow, I had no idea doing those two things could clear up the smell of cigarette smoke"! I would've fallen for it too…hook, line and sinker!

    I tried smoking a cigarette for the first time when I was 10. I thought I was so cool until my friend told me "uh, you're supposed to actually inhale it…not just suck on the cigarette and then blow the smoke out immediately". What did I know? It was the last time I ever smoked.

  • Sharon’s Cottage Quilts

    What a Delightful story! I can't tell how much I enjoyed reading it! Not only did it bring back sweet childhood memories…but Belly Laugh too!! Thanks so much for begining my day in a great way!!

  • Aunt Juicebox

    Ahahahaha! We used to eat pickles to cover up our ciggy or alcohol breath. Didn't have to worry about the smell on anything else because my parents both smoked.

  • Glama Ray

    Bwhhaa! What a hilarious story! WOW, you just gave me a flashback from high school, lol! I went to school in Lafayette, La and my Sr. year, me and some of my girls would leave for our liquid lunch and hit the Daiquiri Shack. Good times. Our parents had to know what we were up to when we tried hiding any evidence whether is be drinking or smoking. If I ever have children, poor things will never have a chance to get anything past me.
    Thanks for the laugh!

  • Veronica

    I can just picture it all!!! I'm sure your hearts were pounding as you were trying to get rid of the evidence too.

    I never thought to cover up the smell of smoking, which I did when I was a sophomore too! Just massive amounts of gum. My Mom was on to me though.

  • Martinis or Diaper Genies?

    I love Joe. Clever clever.

  • Sissi

    ROFLMAO!!!! I've had a similar experience! It's so funny how I can remember exact details of the bad stuff, but are always fuzzy on the regular things from my past. That tells us what really sticks in our concious 😉 Great post!

  • Mom Taxi Julie

    I remember learning how to smoke and also before that my friend got caught smoking and her mom made her smoke the whole pack lol

  • McVal

    LOL! Big help HE was!

  • Neva

    Love it!!! Teenagers are brilliant!

  • Allyson

    awe how adorable were you! that's fabulous :)

  • Poconut

    *laughing wildly*

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