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Stupid: My Anti-Drug

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  I don’t smoke. And this is why.   By Hannah Wallace   On the way to the bar to meet some friends, going to pick up Little J first, I’ve got this half-smoked cigarette—a leftover from some drunken trip to 7-11—and I’m struck by some bizarre impulse to smoke the rest of it during […]

March 9, 2007


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I don’t smoke. And this is why.
 
By Hannah Wallace
 
On the way to the bar to meet some friends, going to pick up Little J first, I’ve got this half-smoked cigarette—a leftover from some drunken trip to 7-11—and I’m struck by some bizarre impulse to smoke the rest of it during the drive. I’m thinkin’ I’m kinda cool, right? Finally a high school rebel. In my 20s. In Little J’s neighborhood I drive by a cop car, and for a second I wince, worried I’m going to get caught. Then I realize it’s not illegal to smoke in a car. Yeah, I’m real cool.

I get to the house, and I’ve planned just to park and pop out without turning the car off. So I reach across to turn off the headlights, cool genius that I am, with the hand holding the cigarette. On the withdraw back through the steering wheel, the cigarette bumps the wheel and launches itself and a shower of sparks into my lap, a la The Big Lebowski. During my sudden panic-squirming, the cigarette runs for cover through my legs and hides under my ass. Uh-oh, burning in the car. I’m concerned the car seat (or worse, my seat) is going to burst into flames, so, change of plans, I turn off the car, bounce out the door and hope I’m not on fire.

I turn around in time to see the car—engine off but still in drive—start rolling gently but with determination down the driveway.

There’s a too-long moment of indecision when I can’t figure out if the smoldering upholstery or the runaway vehicle should be remedied first. Then the open car door bumps me in the back and I hop futilely along, braced against the door, not slowing it down in the least. The car hits the quiet street and keeps going, and despite the sounds of my Reefs scraping on the cement, my pushing doesn’t seem to be doing any good. So I’m doing a little one-footed tarantella in flip-flops trying to get my foot on the brake without getting run over. Into the street and nearly across we dance, the car gaining speed and obviously eying a spectacular Sundance Kid sendoff in the drainage ditch on the other side of the road. Finally, I manage to hop in and get my foot on the brake.

Whew.

And then I realize I’m sitting on the cigarette.

I throw the car in park, hop back out in a panic, sweep the embers from my person and, at long last, get the damn cigarette out of the car and sailing into the night. Then, standing in the middle of the road, next to my parked car, in the darkness, I carefully reexamine my backside for serious damage, start the car back up, pull forward 15 feet, and head to the door as if nothing happened.

 
And that’s why I don’t smoke.