I am taking a break from recipes today to give you a little story about myself. One you might not believe. I am sure many of you think I am a “goody two shoes”. But I’ve had my run ins with Justice! As in the vice principal at my junior high school. No joke his name was Mr. Justice.
I’ll just go back a few years before I was a preteen adolescent trying to fit it with the crowd. I was a young child of a drug using, drug dealing mother. She had very interesting ways of doing things which I have talked about on here before. One example that I’ve shared was how she used peanut butter to remove gum from my hair. Which explains why I am a peanut butter aficionado. She also thought the best way to get rid of hiccups was to have us kids smoke cigarettes. Sure, we would cough so hard our lungs would come flying out. So of course the hiccups would be the last thing on our minds. It worked a treat!
Anyway, because we were exposed to so many things young children shouldn’t be, like drugs on the kitchen table next to the box of breakfast cereal, our sense of right and wrong was a bit skewed. So one day during lunch period at my junior high school, my best friend told me there were some older kids meeting out in the baseball fields and we were going to join in too. So we walked way out to the corner of the field, as far as we could go. And when we got there these older kids were sitting in a circle lighting up cigarettes and passing them around. When it came my way I thought, I don’t have the hiccups why would I need this? But I noticed none of the kids had hiccups either and they weren’t coughing their lungs out. In fact, they weren’t even inhaling they were just “puffing” and “blowing” and they looked pretty darn cool.
I wasn’t cool and I’m still not cool. I’ve never fit in ever, in any situation. While I tried in this instance to fit in, it was futile. I did the little puff and blow one time to try and fit in, and then passed the cigarette to the next person. Didn’t feel any more cool. And I know I didn’t inhale. Because I didn’t cough my lungs out like I would when my mom wanted us to stop hiccuping. But it didn’t matter whether I inhaled or not. Smoking on campus was against the rules. The school bell rang to indicate lunch period was over and we all started to walk back towards the classrooms. But before we made it back we were greeted mid way by Mr. Justice. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so scared in my life as I was in that moment. He was tall, he was menacing looking in his blue three piece suit and his balding head, which looked quite red from the invisible flames spewing forth! I knew he meant business when he said, “follow me.”
We were all suspended from school and sent home. My mom didn’t really react too much. She had a big drug deal she was working on at the moment to keep her occupied. But I was upset. I was always a proud and conscientious student having been in the gifted program from the time I was eight. Well that wasn’t very “gifted” of me, in fact that was pretty lame and stupid to go and get myself suspended. So I was face down on my bed crying when all of the sudden my oldest brother walked in. He asked my mom why I was home from school. When she told him he went ballistic. He walked over and literally with two hands picked up my whole body by my clothes and threw me across the room and it was only when I hit the wall on the other side I realized, um this hurts. Now I was really crying! After some choice words by the big bro, he left and I had days to think about the situation.
I returned to school with my tail between my legs. But that’s okay. Because my smoking career came to a brief and dramatic stop. Think of the money I have saved! Cigarettes are expensive! Also, as a chef, having your taste buds in tact is so important as smoking is known to dull the taste receptors. And when people discover I am 51 years old they are usually in shock. But one of the top ways to keep from having aged skin is to give up smoking. Since I gave it up after one day, I reckon I am ahead of the curve! Finally, I think I am one of the few people I know that literally never gets hiccups. My body might have such an aversion to smoking now that it will do anything to prevent the near possibility.
What the experience has left me with is an acceptance of smokers. I get that it is an addiction. Whether someone has started because of peer pressure and wanting to fit it, or because their mom made them do it for some old wive’s tale (now called a hack) once you’re hooked its powerful. While I don’t smoke myself and I don’t care for the smell, I get that it has some soothing qualities and certainly there is the oral fixation factor. But my biggest complaint about smoking is the cigarette butts left behind everywhere. It is so unsightly and actually unsafe for the environment.
When I attended U.S.C. in the Annenberg School for Communications, I did a speech and debate on the subject of cigarette butt litter. I lit a fire (pun intended) under the behinds of people about how we need to put out the butts problem. Cigarette butts can be picked up by small children or animal wild life such as birds and fish. They could become very sick if they swallow the butts. Cigarettes, if still lit when thrown on the ground, can start fires. And if they wind up in the gutter, the rain will wash them into the water system. The chemicals that the filters have collected while the smoker takes a puff is so concentrated and can leach into the water system. Also not good. I don’t blame the smokers actually. Since the smoking ban inside restaurants, pubs and buildings, smokers are outside where often there are no receptacles to dispose of the cigarettes properly. So they throw them on the ground. Not a good situation. Like getting thrown against a wall.
I sourced a product from Australia called “Butts Out” and it is a portable cigarette ash tray. I shared it with influential people at my university. Somehow the trend didn’t take off. It is pretty basic looking but I think it could be the next big accessory if it was all done in a cute rose gold or leopard print for the ladies or a premier league team logo for the lads. In any event, I am not an anti smoker in spite of my past with cigarettes. As embarrassing as the story is, I am glad I quit in a day and I realize some aren’t as lucky (or unlucky) as I was. But never the less, I don’t think our environment or innocent children or animals should have to suffer.
While I don’t aim to be the poster girl for Butts, I do want to bring it to the table as a conversation. Let me know your thoughts. Oh and guess what? My older brother with the hello crazy sister throwing skills,`also happens to be a great drummer. I went to see him play a gig a few years back. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw him with his band mates. And he was smoking a cigarette. I wasn’t strong enough to throw him across the room. But lucky for me, all I had to do was give him a look and we were right back to that time and place. Amazing the power of memories !
P.S. There are many place online now to get “pocket ashtrays” and I’ll put some links below.