I became fascinated with smoking sometime during 6th grade. I don't know if it was the rebellious gene that had taken a stronghold on me, just beginning to rear its ugly head and giving a hint of what the next five years would bring, or if I had simply succumbed to the relentlessness of the tobacco industry and the not-yet-frowned-upon practice of thinly veiled attempts to attract young smokers.
Whatever the cause, by the time the summer before I entered jr. high rolled around, I had taken to rolling loose tea leaves in paper, and "smoking" my hodge-podge cigarettes in front of the mirror when I had the house to myself.
It looked so glamours to me. I would pose and preen in front of the mirror, taking long drags and pursing my lips so that the stream of smoke lasted longer than I was able to exhale it. It burned my eyes and smelled like hell, but I did it every chance I got. I also loved having a secret. It felt so diabolical...I was a "smoker". I smoked. I felt awesome.
My brother, whom at this point was a Junior in high school, was a trustworthy and faithful companion. So when I confessed my new hobby and budding interest in smoking an actual cigarette to him, he called me immediately when he finally got his hands on some.
I crossed the busy street and walked the few minutes it took to get from my house to my dad's apartment, where my brother had lived since getting kicked out of the house a couple years earlier due to an incident involving his steal toed boot and a wall. Once there, we snuck over to the enclave hidden in the dense shrubbery next to the car port, the one where we would often find empty beer bottles and other traces of nefarious acts having been committed in this hidden den.
He produced a crumpled soft-pack of Camel non filters and passed one to me. He lit mine with a strike-anywhere match, followed by lighting his own. After a few puffs, he stared at me with a quizzical look before blurting out, in a typical big-brother incredulous fashion, "What the hell are you doing?" Turns out I hadn't been inhaling...didn't even know what it was. So when he was finished laughing at me, he demonstrated how to suck the carcinogen infested smoke directly into your lungs, thus taking an actual drag of a cigarette.
I did as he demonstrated. I took a large pull off that cigarette, not having the burden of a filter between me and the tobacco, and swallowed the smoke into my virgin lungs. Then I coughed. I coughed for what seemed like hours, only interrupted by the overwhelming feeling of needing to throw up. I snubbed the cigarette out bitterly, as my brother sympathetically laughed at me.
Do you remember your first cigarette?