Monday, April 02, 2007

Got A Light?

I started smoking when I was in high school. We all did - all my friends, anyway. We thought it was the height of sophistication. I never could do all those cool things some of the others could do, though. You know, blowing smoke rings and that trick that Frenchie did in "Grease", where she held the smoke in her mouth and let it out sloooooowwwwwly, while she breathed it back in through her nose. I always choked and gagged and gasped and my eyes watered when I tried that.

I don't know what things were like in Yankeeland, but in the south, there were rules about ladies smoking, and we strictly adhered to them. A lady could smoke in a car, but she had to put it out before she got out to go into a building. A lady never, never, never smoked while walking around, not even alone in the house. Only while sitting down. And, she absolutely never let a cigarette hang out of her mouth. She had to keep her fingers on it at all times. Rules, rules, rules.

So, even though she smoked like a furnace, my mother told me she didn't want me to smoke in front of my grandmother. And, since Grandma lived with us, that meant I had to go next door whenever I wanted a cigarette. Or make up a reason to take the car and go somewhere.

One afternoon, while Grandma and I were having our usual after school cup of tea and cookies, I asked, "Would you like to know a secret?" Her eyes lit up, and she said yes. So, I said, "Grandma, there's no way you could possibly NOT know that I like to smoke a cigarette every now and then. You must be able to smell it. You do know, don't you?" And, she admitted that she did, but didn't want to say anything about it in case my mother didn't know.

I said, "Grandma, mother says I'm not to smoke in front of you. But, I don't want to have to go next door just to have one, so if I smoke here, will you let this be our little secret?"

The idea of having a secret from mother really tickled her. And, I think she was actually pleased that I was willing to talk to her about it. And, for some reason, it had the effect of slowing down my smoking, strangely enough. When I knew I could light up any time I wanted, it didn't seem as important.

And, that wasn't the only secret we kept from mother, either.

22 comments:

Peggy said...

Everybody used to smoke. Even me! Thankfully in the less gracious north, we could walk around with a cigarette. Having said that, my only smoking memories are sitting down.

Now smoking and smoking in public is right up there with eating babies. Somebody went and put morality onto it. Don't they know that making it so banned causes increased pleasure in those who have an illicit sneaky ciggie from time to time?

I love that you talked to your granny about that.

claude said...

What a lovely story. Grandmothers are just great to keep secrets from your parents!

dot said...

I think I broke all of those rules at one time or another during my smoking years. I'm so thankful I was able to quit!
Nice story Betty!

Sister--Three said...

The only sister that ever smoked was one! You can guess which one!

Our aunts smoked in the 40s after WW II. The family had an outhouse
and that is where they smoked so their Father would not know. My husband said he picked up the nasty habit in the same place.
So I guess, smoking and sh--, go together. Teehee

Cazzie!!! said...

My mum told the mormons that she was going to sue Jesus because of her smoking. When they asked why, she said because she got the money for her habit from the collection tin at Church..thats why!!!

Jay said...

Always great to have a secret with grandma.

Those rules have all gone out the window these days. Women around here don't even take the cig out of their mouths to tell the state trooper to "Kiss my ass". ;-)

CarmenSinCity said...

Everytime I keep a secret from my mom, she usually finds out anyway. I'm such a moron. I always get caught.

Annie said...

Grandmas really should be for special moments and secrets, like that one, Betty. Unfortunately my grandmothers never felt comfortable telling or encouraging my secrets. I could have used a confidante, a mature one that is.

Arkansas Songbird said...

We learned all sorts of Southern lady rules in home economics class when I was in school. I can remember my teacher talking to us about not chewing gum in public as well as not smoking in public. I wish young ladies still adhered to many of those rules. I get very tired of the anything goes attitude that I witness everyday at school.

John said...

It was really 'cool' when I was a teenager to smoke American 'fags' (that's English slang for cigarette) as they came in soft packs and you could 'flip' them out one at at time to impress the girls. They were very expensive (the fags that is) compared to English cigarettes, so I kept mine for those Saturday night dances.

Kell said...

I guess we all at least try smoking. I never did too much, but then I knew I had a kind of habit-forming personality and was afraid I wouldn't stop.

So, what other secrets did you two keep from your mother?!?

Queen of Dysfunction said...

Holy crap that's funny. I never knew that smoking could have so many rules. Why didn't women smoke while walking into a building? Why only when seated? Just curious.

Let's not get into smoking in Yankeeland. Smokers here are one step away from Hitler.

Dorothy said...

Great post! I smoked for a year or so when I was 33 and seperated from first husband. Funny I lived with smokers all my life but that seperation was sort of a trigger to thumb my nose at them all and do just what the hell I wanted. Remember buying that first pack, I was at a college taking some classes, I opened the pack and tapped the top on my hand like I had seen it done to shake out one cig, and ended up popping several out on the floor!! Really cool huh? I got hooked fast and was glad to meet up with my present husband and quit.

her indoors said...

never knew that, could only smoke sitting down how strange, do you still smoke? the laws are changing over here quickly! from july smoking in public places is banned and that includes work places, pubs, bus stops

Betty said...

sister3: Smoking in the outhouse. Funny!

Cazzie: Your mother sounds like a character. I like characters.

Kell: I'll never tell.

QofD: We had to be seated to smoke, otherwise it was "tacky." We could do almost anything, as long as we did it in a "ladylike" fashion. You should hear some of our so-called compliments.

dorothy: Yeah, that was cool, all right.

her indoors: No, I quit smoking years ago - mainly because cigarettes got so expensive I was to stingy to buy them. lol

Lorna said...

betty,
I am fortunate, I never started smoking. My ex smoked but thank goodness neither of my sons do. I have to admit, tho, I do enjoy a cigar now and again and if there is a pipe in my vicinity I just may pick it up and enjoy a bowl. :-) hugssssssssssss

Chancy said...

Betty
I am trying hard to be the sort of Grandma you describe and I think I am.

I remember the smoking rules. I smoked for about 8 or so years and then quit and never had another one. I would buy a pack and then throw it away and I was too cheap to continue that so I just flat out quit.

Another thing I remember was that at Southern Bell where I worked we had to wear white gloves everyday to work. The year before I started my job there the women had to wear hats AND gloves.

Deep South Atlanta Georgia. :)

patsy said...

i was the sister that smoked and i love it all though i have stopped again because it is important to breath but i still would like it. the cost is a good reason to stop. i have a lot more money now.

Tink said...

Ooo. More secrets? Do tell!

Melissa said...

I'm with Tink and Kell: spill it, woman!

And I'd love to hear some of the so-called compliments. I assume they're of the backhanded sort?

Gypsy Purple said...

Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Easter

Melly` said...

I STILL hide from my father when I smoke. Sad.. but true. I don't hide from anyone else.. just him.