Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CTFU: Super Mega Edition (Part Three) – More about Cigarettes

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

Hello welcome to Part Three. If you care to know what I’m doing here, then read Part One. If you would like the first part of the topic I’ll be discussing today, you’ll need to read Part Two.

For the record, I discussed the incident described in Part Two with my mom after I wrote about it, and she says she doesn’t remember that situation. So let the record show that that was my memory, and my mom doesn’t share it.

The next situation happened in 1992, soon after my oldest child was born. He ended up in the hospital for a month after he was born because a small flap in his stomach was causing food (breast milk and baby formula) to stop short of his stomach, and he was vomiting it back up. The flap was simply something that would disappear, but he had to be in the hospital while it did.

My first wife and I were living in California at the time, and my mom and her family were all pretty much centered on that area. We had an apartment that was being paid for by the government while I was trying to make my last vain attempt to finish high school before I finally dropped out. Regardless of how we paid for our home, it was our home, and I’d been told throughout my teenage years that when I had my own place, I could make my own rules, which was a fancy way of saying that I had to follow whoever’s rules coincided with the house I was living in.

My brother had a friend name Dan, who took a liking to me for some reason, so Dan would often hang out at my apartment. We would spend a lot of time listening to Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Off the Deep End.” Dan was closer to my brother’s age. I believe he was sixteen.

Dan was at my apartment one day, and this was after my son was home from the hospital, when my grandmother stopped by for some reason. As it happened, Dan answered the door, and my grandmother, who was smoking a cigarette, attempted to walk in. Dan played house rules cop and explained to her that my first wife and I didn’t allow smoking in our apartment.

I was upstairs tending to the baby when I heard my grandmother yelling at Dan. I put the baby in the crib and went downstairs. My grandmother was in the house with her lit cigarette, and was chewing Dan out because he wasn’t showing respect to his elders. After hearing what had transpired, I simply said, “Grandma, we don’t allow smoking in our home. I apologize if you feel he was rude when he said it, but he was simply relaying one of our house rules.”

My grandmother was upset, but I think what probably surprised me the most was that my mom later called me bitching me out for letting Dan be so rude to her mom. I tried explaining that I wasn’t there when he told her that, and it was really between my grandmother Dan, and maybe Dan’s parents, to deal with whether he was rude. The fact still remained that he was relaying our house rule.

For some reason this didn’t seems reasonable to anyone in my family who was a smoker. And I would have taken it as a difference of opinion, but it somehow got out of hand. They were telling me that if my grandmother, my mom, or anyone of that nature came over to visit that they were my elders, and they could smoke in my home if they wanted. I told them they weren’t welcome in my home then.

After a lot of arguing our points, we eventually came to a stalemate that involved a truce, but they were convinced that I was in the wrong. The biggest disappointment in all of this is that my grandfather took their side of the argument. Up until that point, I’d always thought he was a basically rational person. Technically, he probably still was, but he certainly wasn’t during that argument.

I probably won’t make too many friends with this statement, but there is at least a reasonable amount of truth. Often, groups of people who do things that are frowned on by society, as well as people who do things that they know are bad for them, feel persecuted by society. This is not to say that if you feel persecuted that you do bad things, but that people who do bad things tend to feel persecuted. I hope that’s clear. And I hope that it’s clear that I’m making a blanket statement based on my observation. If this doesn’t apply to you or anyone you know, please comprehend that I’m, as such, not talking about you or anyone you know.

I think the bit I was thinking about with ashtrays being a part of interior decoration was more observational. When there are ashtrays now they tend to be outside on the porch, as sometimes even smokers don’t want to smoke in their home. I remember that it was a decorating motif back in the day though, because even if you didn’t smoke, you were likely to entertain those who did. Watch old movies sometime. You’ll see what I mean.

So I guess on to the complicated discussion of smoking in bars and such places. Maybe I just became used to it over the years, but it seemed very odd to me to tell people they couldn’t smoke in bars. I agree with restaurants. I agree with bars that are restaurants. But if you’re some place where you’re simply going out to get drunk and, what else? Well, drunk. I guess at that point shouldn’t you be able to smoke inside? One thing that I have noticed from the perspective of being in a band is that if someone has a choice between smoking cigarettes and listening to any of the bands they didn’t come to see, they’ll go outside and smoke cigarettes. So I guess part of me likes it when they can smoke inside the bar. I do like going home and not having to shower to get the smoke smell off me, but I don’t like that there are more people on the patio than watching the bands. Why even go out? You can smoke and not listen to music at home. Sheesh.

I’m biased. I don’t smoke. I’d take up drinking and most other hard drugs before I smoked cigarettes. We’re talking about an addictive substance that doesn’t even get you fucked up. It just makes people miserable when they don’t have one. They go through their whole miserable existence just looking forward to their next one. What kind of life is that? I think I just described paychecks and sex too. Hmmm.

Again, this is from the perspective of someone who has never smoked a cigarette. The issue that often comes up when I express this point of view is the belief that I feel superior to people who smoke, or whatever vice we’re talking about. I do not. I have many flaws. Most of them seem to be in the area of motivation, focus, and follow through, but my life is not what I’d like it to be, nor is it close to what I’m probably capable of. Until I move beyond these flaws, I will not feel superior to anyone based on a bad habit or two.

I think that’s all I have to say on that subject. It almost seems like it should have been a topic I should have discussed before since I had so much to say. I guess I just didn’t really want to talk bad about my family, because they aren’t such bad people when you talk about them away from the cigarette topic. They just grew up, and older, in a different time, one where smoking wasn’t really frowned upon and vilified.

I’ll continue my scouring of my notes file next part.

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