I don’t have a family tree. The family systematically broke it down into small pieces. And smoked it. Now it’s all gone. So much for my roots.
Rich, smooth flavor. A tad barky and leafy, perhaps. But lungs has gots to be choked to the max. Our family motto is apparently “smoke whatever you can improvise.”
My entire family smokes its guts out and yet, perversely, I’m the black sheep. Oh, the irony. That’s rich. I’m also pretty much the only non-smoker around.
I was pretty young on the day I was born. I have it on good authority that mom smoked throughout her pregnancy. I think mom and dad were smoking in the delivery room. Then they swaddled me up and carried me to the car. It was raining. (That’s Oregon for ya.) They placed me in the middle of the bench seat in their 1955 Olds, made sure the windows were tightly rolled up and started puffing away. I think, together, they killed a pack before I crossed the threshold to my new home on this forsaken prison planet. Personally I think they should have been locked up for child abuse.
My formative years were spent inside a hover cloud of nicotine haze. I guess my parents couldn’t bring themselves to take the more immediate route of simply throwing me into the nearest wood chipper. This was an era before the movie Fargo hit the scene so they opted for the long, drawn out tried and true method of slow killing using noxious gasses forced out of their lungs.
What a flavorful way to go.
I read with some interest the other day that CVS Pharmacy has decided to stop selling cigarettes. What? Who even knew such a thing was possible? Cripes. And I thought it was weird that my pet food store had miles of cigarettes behind the counter. Two great tastes in a single trip, eh? I mean, who the fuck has time to buy pet food without getting cigarettes? Try to be reasonable, people. Geez.
Some people hailed the radical decision from CVS. But, apparently, it didn’t please everyone. FOX News immediately proclaimed there was a “debate” over CVS’s decision. Really? Who was debating it besides FOX News? They empaneled some guests to discuss the issue. What’s to discuss? I thought FOX News was behind free markets and business decisions free of governmental interference?
Luckily FOX News is around to ask the burning questions when issues like this come to light (meh).
“Is it OK legally … to restrict tobacco availability in a private store like this? … For people who smoke, you know, they have a right to buy cigarettes. It’s not illegal.”
–Gretchen Carlson, The Real Story, Fox News Channel
Another FOX personality, Neil Cavuto, wondered if CVS was “getting scaredy cat.” Yes, insightful analysis from a real news organization. You don’t go to FOX News for truth and logic. You go for the maximum spin. They even found a way to spin a company deciding not to sell cigarettes and get shots in on Obama in the process.
Later in life, as a boy, and again as a young man, we’d visit my grandparent’s ranch. Acres of pasture for the horses, a barn complete with animals, and grandpa’s garden where he’d hang shiny streamers to scare away the deer. I’d catch salamanders in the creek along the property line and we’d hike all the way down to the railroad tracks. It was a beautiful natural space in the heart of Oregon green country.
Meanwhile the Taker clan would assemble on the deck and smoke until it looked like a nuclear mushroom cloud over the house.
As I got older it began to dawn on me. Looking around I noticed that I was the aberration. Somehow, against all odds, I was one of the few that got missed. I never smoked. At least, not directly.
I began to get curious. I started to notice a trend. My core family unit (mom, dad, sister and myself) consisted of four people. 75 percent of them smoked. I was the odd man out.
My dad died of cancer and smoked until the day he died. We used to get in real fights when I’d talk to him about quitting. He’d have none of it. Now he’s gone. He was diagnosed in a March and died the following October. It took about eight months.
Mom quit when I was in my early 20s. She’s still alive and well. Obviously another freak show.
My sister (and all of her kids) are clutched in the krav maga death grip of tobacco. That’s four out of four of my nieces and nephews. A whopping 100 percent smoking rate in that particular family unit. This just reinforces my belief that children of parents who smoke are more likely to be smokers themselves.
That’s when I started to see the broader context. My entire family is in the crosshairs of big tobacco and under attack. It’s been that way for generations. I thought about making a complete family tree diagram using cigarette symbols but even I don’t have the time and energy for such a shitty activity. Suffice it to say the green tree icons on the diagram would be outnumbered by a ratio of about 9 to 1.
The Taker clan isn’t destined to be around much longer. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. At least, apparently, it was delicious. What a drag.