We Were So Cool.

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The Red Dress Club

Today’s Red Dress Club prompt: write non-fiction based on memories inspired by the above photo!

My friend Michelle and I were hanging out one weekend, trying to find something fun to do. As sophomores in high school, we tried to be a little badass, but at the same time play the goody-two-shoes roles we were primarily suited for. It got boring making good grades, cramming into the photo booth at the movie theater, and taping ourselves with my parents’ video camera while we sang INXS songs (Don’t ask me/What you know is true/Don’t have to tell you/I love your precious heart/). We wanted to do something really bad. Something cool. Something we ordinarily wouldn’t because we were too good.

We peered into my fridge and saw the box of pink Franzia wine my mother had grown to love lately. Franzia made its first appearance when my dad came out of the closet; because really, how else does one cope with her husband’s sudden revelation that he’s gay after 20 years of marriage? But the wine wasn’t appealing. Besides, we could drive through the Daiquiri Stop any old time (remember: this is New Orleans!). We were 15 year-olds, not wine connoisseurs.

Inside mom’s purse on the counter I spied a pack of her Benson & Hedges cigarettes. There were a few already missing so we figured she wouldn’t miss another two. We each took one and scuttled up the stairs two at a time, stealthy as mice.

We went to my room and locked the door behind us, whispering and giggling. We’d never smoked a cigarette before and couldn’t contain our excitement. Frankly it was hypocritical of me because I’d been leaving my mom nasty notes bitching about her smoking and non-mom-like behavior, such as sleeping over at her boyfriend’s house. But the rebel in me still yearned to know what all the smoking fuss was about.

We prepped my room, marveling at our brilliance. We opened my window, which had a screen on it and turned on my ceiling fan. We crouched together near the window and lit up. Trying to breathe, puff and not cough too much proved impossible. It didn’t taste very good and it stunk. Our eyes watered and we turned red choking on the smoke. My room started getting pretty cloudy; the damn screen was in the way, preventing us from hanging our lit cigarettes outside. The ceiling fan seemed to make things worse; it sucked the smoke back up into my room rather than expelling it. After several coughing fits and picking bits of tobacco from our teeth, we stubbed out our cigarettes. And we realized with a sudden panic that my room reeked.

We didn’t have a clue what to do, so we called Joe, our friend from school. He smoked cigars so we thought he’d know how to get rid of the stench.

Michelle dialed. He answered on the third ring.
“Joe,” Michelle whispered into the phone.

“What do you want?” he asked wearily.
I huddled next to Michelle and our ears shared the phone as she explained our predicament.
“You have to help us,” she pleaded.
“Okay,” Joe said 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 shrieked together into the phone before hanging up to prepare.

I tiptoed downstairs to get the vinegar. Meanwhile, Michelle wet my bath towels and wrung them out. Then we swung them around wildly, like magicians’ assistants for some sort of freak show. Each corner of my room had a Dixie cup of vinegar in it. Unfortunately my room started to smell worse than before.

Luckily 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.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/frummiehouse Rebecca Schorr

     Ah, the blind leading the blind.  Awesome.

    I remember that wine. Back when I thought wine was supposed to come in boxes.

    • Anonymous


      I thought the very same thing! I was so naive! (still am, sad face). Thanks so much for reading & leaving me some comment love!

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

     I definitely would have been gullible enough to try the wet towel/vinegar fix when I was fifteen. 

    I remember the first time I tried a cigarette. It was not pretty! 

    • Anonymous


      The sad part? I am still just as gullible in sooooo many ways! Need to work on that, but not quite sure how.

      p.s. How’s Jillian going, my dear? Are you making friends w/ her yet? Also, it helps me if I yell back at her when I’m mad at her. Try that! 

      • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

        We are in the realm of friend-ish, I think. So far I don’t have enough breath to be able to yell back…..but I do find the punching exercises to be therapeutic! ha!

  • Cheryl

     HA! That is too funny. My girlfriend and I also attempted this sort of thing when we were in seventh or eight grade. But we went waaaay back in the woods behind our house. 

    So fun reading your memory!!!

    • Anonymous


      Yes, had we been smarter about it? We’d have gone OUTSIDE. But no. We were young, dumb, and gullible, a lethal combination.  Oh well. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?!

  • http://www.bywordofmouthmusings.com By Word of Mouth Musings

     You are just too sweet to be all badass ;)

    • Anonymous

      Word of Mouth,

      See what I mean? This is STILL the whole image/persona I’m trying to kick to the curb! I CAN DEFINTIELY BE A BADASS, DAMN IT! I can, I really can!

  • The MOM

    OK, I’m 40 and I’ll admit for a minute there I kind of thought the wet towel/vinegar thing would work!  LOL  What is it with high school friends?

    *Oops, this is NC Narrator from TRDC…my ID didn’t come through quite right!*

    • Anonymous

      MOM/NC Narrator,

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, we were also hoping the vinegar and towels would work…but it was a valuable lesson we learned. Next time? SMOKE OUTSIDE. LOL! 

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com/ Elaine

     I do love this story. :-) 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks so much, Elaine! It’s one of my fonder/funnier memories from that time period. ;-)

  • Simone

     I was going to comment on how impressed I was that your friend knew just how to get the stinky smell out of the room. Funny that he had no clue. I bet you all looked hilarious swinging those wet towels around. I enjoyed reading this. It was just like being a fly on the wall.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Simone! Yes, we were likewise impressed with our friend’s knowledge—until we realized it didn’t work and he was just messing around with us.

  • http://mydisplaced.blogspot.com Amanda

    Love it. Sounds just like something I would have done at that age, too. :)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Amanda! Appreciate your stopping by to read & comment! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  • http://twitter.com/galitbreen Galit Breen

     Oh Erin! I would have danced to INXS and had not-a-clue how to smoke with you back in the day!

    I must know more about drive thru daiquiris and also? Are you still friends with Joe? You must send him this! :)

    Love it lady!


    • Anonymous


      1.) I still love INXS and have some songs on my iPod. Brings back sooo mnay memories.
      2.) I would have loved to do all of this with you, too!
      3.) Drive-thru daquiries are a mainstay in New Orleans. They are everywhere. Seriously. I got my first one around this age (15ish). Especially back then the city was very laid back and didn’t ask for ID, etc. and lots of people just didn’t care. You can literally drive thru just like it’s McDonald’s. You can order a single daquiri or even get ‘em by the gallon, tons of flavors!
      4.) Yes, still friends with “Joe.” He lurks on my blog but never comments, and will enjoy this tale.


  • Anonymous

    I have totally been this cool. Just not with you, which stinks.

    • Anonymous


      I know. The closest we’ve come to being this cool is sharing a banana. Must do better. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. LOve you! 

  • http://mamawantsthis.blogspot.com Mama Wants This

     I just imagined the two of you swinging wet towels frantically, haha! Great story.

    • Anonymous


      Thanks so much! Yes, I’m sure we looked pretty darn ridiculous. I don’t think that’s changed much since then. Snort!

  • http://profiles.google.com/randomblogette Random Blogette

    That is hilarious! You know that Joe was probably laughing his ass off after he got off the phone with you two. 

    I don’t remember the first time that I smoked cigarettes but I do remember the first time that I smoked pot. We were in my sorority house and we used toilet paper rolls with a dryer sheet in them to mask the post smell. We would blow the smoke through the toilet paper rolls so that it would end up going through the dryer sheet.  It totally worked!

    • Anonymous


      OMG! I am laughing about the toilet paper rolls! Trying to picture it and I can’t…I think you need to write a blog post about it, hahahahhahaa! And as for Joe? he is a lurker here on my blog and I’m certain he still laughs about this to this day…

  • http://www.soberjulie.com SoberJulie

    Oh that’s hilarious, darned screen! 

    • Anonymous


      Yep, that stupid screen was all that stood in the way of my complete freedom. Le sigh.

  • http://profiles.google.com/twonormalmoms Ally Wilson

    Drive through daiquiris?  Dang. I would have blown that completely. Well, maybe because my mom didn’t smoke and would have smelled it from a mile away – she was sharp like that. I can totally appreciate being a good girl and trying to find a way to be a cool rebel, though!

    • Anonymous


      Sadly, all my attempts at being a cool rebel were in vain. I never made it past the dork/wannabe stage. Oh well. I’m likely the better for it!

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

     I was a “chugging wine coolers” kind of badass myself.  

    Loved this. You made me smile. Made me laugh. Made me grateful I didn’t grow up in New Orleans because I would have been ALL OVER the drive through Daiquiri joint.

    Unanswered prayers…

    • Anonymous


      We were all over those drive-thrus! And I also had my fair share of wine coolers, which now make me want to gag at the thought! And relatively speaking? My parents totally lucked out because growing up in New Orleans? I was still a really good girl and never got into any serious trouble. ;-)


  • Anonymous

    Ohh I was bout that age when I started smoking. I too would open my window and blow the smoke out of it. I didn’t have a ceiling fan but I did have a box fan I would set facing out of the other window that would pull the air out of it and fresh air in the window I was near.. yeah I had it all figured out. I just wish that the coughing an choking had been enough to stop me..

  • http://www.thekircorner.com Kir

    love it, I wanted to be bad in High School too..this brought back all those memories.
    My sister smoked and I can be pretty sure that she has a story or two like this hidden in her memories. loved it! 

    • Anonymous


      I tried sooo hard to be bad, but it was not my destiny, apparently. My parents were pretty lucky. 

  • http://twitter.com/sellabitmum Tracy Morrison

    HA. This is awesome. I could not do this prompt as there were way too many bad smoking memories for me…and I really want to stay married. 

    • Anonymous


      Your comment makes me super curious! Do you wanna guest post your smoking memories on my blog?!!? I’d love it! ;-) Your hubs would never have to know! 

  • Anonymous

    I’m cracking up that he just made up something to tell you to do! 

    • Anonymous


      I am sure he had his fair share of giggles over the fact that we followed his instructions! ;-) 

  • http://twobearsfarm.blogspot.com Varunner7

    Erin, this is so funny!  I can totally picture it – you bring the whole thing alive.  Towels and vinegar!  If only someone had told me back in the day.  Hee hee.  

    • Anonymous


      Well obviously towels and vinegar didn’t solve the problem. Vinegar is known for its cleaning/odor-reducing qualities, so that one sort of makes sense at least…..but it didn’t work. HAha 

  • notwifezilla7

    I am totally imaging myself with cups of vinegar. I too am GULLIBLE and would have probably tried anything! 

    • Anonymous


      Yeah, we were pretty desperate at that point and were hoping for some guidance from our friend. And I’m still just as gullible! Must remedy that! 

  • http://www.twitter.com/c_pappas Christina Pappas

    This is hilarious! Made me think of when I was about 10. My childhood friend and next door neighbor went away to Rhode Island for the weekend to see her family. She was nso excited when she got back because she had something to show me. We took a walk around the block where she revealed a half-smoked cigarette she stole out of an ashtray. Boy o boy were we excited! We smoke that whole thing together right down to the filter. LMAO 

    • Anonymous


      OMG! She stole a used ciggie for you guys to try?! LOVE it! That sounds so much better than my pitiful tale! 

  • http://oldtweener.blogspot.com/ Sherri

    I usually read your blog when I’m at work, then remember that disqus is blocked there and I can’t comment! So I’m coming back again this morning from home to tell you I loved this post…I remember a similar episode with a friend that also included an ungodly amount of Schlitz Malt Liquor. Needless to say, those were my first and last smokes! 

    • Anonymous


      Oh no—combining inebriation with a first-time smoke is a BAD deal. I had a similar experience with Goldschlager. Is that how you spell it? Will never touch the stuff again. Ewwwww! 

  • Anonymous

    That is SO mean that he played you guys like that!! I would’ve totally fallen for it too, though. This post is awesome. Totally reminds me of the time that my friend and I snuck boys into the house while my parents were out. When my dad came home, the boys jumped out the window and started running away, but my dad saw them and started chasing them. Oh so humiliating.  

    • Anonymous


      It sounds like that would make an excellent post—ahem, what exactly were you up to with those boys? LOL 

  • Anonymous

    I was totally thinking “Gullible” when you went for the vinegar!!!

    I smoked Benson and Hedge’s for a while. They were the only American cigarette I could find in Canada.

    I can almost taste it now….

    And I haven’t smoked in almost 15 years. 

    • Anonymous


      HOORAY for not smoking in 15 years—that is AWESOME! And yes, gullible should probably be my middle name. Even now. Sad. 

  • http://www.bellebeanchicagodog.com/ Liz

     Oh my! I bet he laughed his ass off for a long time after hanging up that phone!

    • Anonymous


      Yes indeedy, he did! And I imagine he did again after reading this (he is a lurker on my blog, snort!).

  • http://roxanesdays.com Roxane

     You painted a very vivid picture of you and your friend swinging those towels around.  Flippin hilarious.

    Brings back memories…

    • Anonymous


      Yes, swinging those wet towels around was….well, stupid. I’m ashamed to say I’m probably still just as gullible. But not about that. HAHAHAHA 

  • http://twitter.com/tsonoda Terri Sonoda

    Oh I love that.  Swing wet towels around the room…..chuckles.  And the little dixie cups of vinegar.  Priceless.  Yea I remember 15 and gullible.  Hell, I remember 25 and still gullible.  But by that time I’d tried and rejected the cigarettes.  I did choke myself through a few joints though.  Until I learned about special brownies.

    • Anonymous


      I’ve never had a special brownie! Don’t they taste nasty? ANd yes, I am nearly 35 and still just as gullible as I was back then. Sigh.

  • http://twitter.com/AwayWeGoNancy AwayWeGoNancy

    You know what happens to me when I try to be a the cool smoker chick. Exactly the opposite. Devil sticks.

    You crack me right up, friend. I can picture you with those towels!

    • Anonymous


      I don’t think it was the devil sticks, sweets. I think it was the vino! xoxoxoxoxo

  • Anonymous

    You poor kids. Your room must have smelled awful, with vinegar and smoke. Ugh!