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My Last Cigarette May 13, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

I’ve been working on updating a client’s quit-smoking pamphlet. This exercise reminds me how greatly relieved I am that I don’t smoke. I can’t imagine taking all that shit into my body all the time. Worse, I can’t imagine having to quit such a strong addiction. It sounds impossible. (My job, of course, is to make it sound possible.)

I don’t mean to imply that I don’t have vices or addictions. I have different ones.

And it’s not as if I’ve never smoked. I’ve smoked a few cigarettes. I’ve smoked other things, too: the occasional pipe, for example. The annual fishing-trip cigar. Parsley, once, when my sister and I were teenaged and bored and desperate and thought, what the hell? You know. Other things.

When I took a recent phone survey, I fell into the category of “less than 100 cigarettes in my lifetime.” I’ve never bought cigarettes. But sometimes I’d smoke in bars with my friends.

I remember my first cigarette. I was completely disinterested in them, but I was smoking another thing at the time, and I was told that the menthol in a cigarette would give a boost to the experience I was attempting. It took some convincing to get me to give it a try. I don’t remember any boost.

I remember my last cigarette too. Well, I thought I did, anyway.

For a long time, my last cigarette was one in a bar with my friend Kim. I smoked about four, and my mouth tasted like an ash tray for more than two days. I swore them off. Not worth it.

But then one night, the old gang of eight was at Craig’s house, and we all went outside, possibly for a lunar eclipse or some celestial something. We were out in the streets for awhile and ended up in the front yard. Ramberto began to smoke. One of the rest of us, a nonsmoker, bummed a cigarette. Soon we all had, and we shared this sweet smoke together in the warmth of the night. And that was my last (and lovely) cigarette.

Except, according to everyone else, this is a false memory.

First, I checked with Craig. I asked if he remembered it. I said maybe Dewey and Maria Elena had been there as well. He replied, “It was a lunar eclipse, though I don’t remember the smoking. I’m pretty sure Phoebe was there too. We stood in the middle of Clara Street, where we could get an unobstructed view of the sky—the trees were too close in my yard for a clear shot.”

But Phoebe couldn’t have been there if it was the eight, because Phoebe never met some of them. And Craig says Dewey and Maria Elena were never at his house.

I asked Sue (another of the eight) if she remembered the incident, and she replied, “I don’t know much, but I do know this—never happened. The only eclipse I experienced with Ramberto was ‘the total eclipse of his mind.’”

Obviously, she and Ramberto have since had some issues. So I’m thinking that maybe, then, she blocked the memory—after all, I’ve been known to purposely do this when someone pisses me off.

Next I asked Tim if he remembered. He did not. Not at all.

If Tim doesn’t remember, that might mean that he’d already moved to Vermont, in which case the Phoebe-being-there thing is more likely to be accurate. If Sue and the gang of eight were there, it was the early 1990s; if it was Phoebe and no Tim, it was 1995. I think Craig must be right on this one.

What astounds me is that this particular memory—one I’ve held onto as warm and cozy and dear, the memory of my very last cigarette—is in fact cobbled together from bits and pieces of this night and that one, this person and that one. Perhaps it became addled by this martini and that one.

Because I swear I’m not smoking something else.



1. Lali - May 13, 2011

This is great–makes me want to write about MY last cigarette. Unlike you, I did smoke a little bit, and still wish I could….

2. Mali - May 14, 2011

Lovely. And I’m glad I’m not the only one whose memory occasionally plays tricks on her.

3. Bridgett - May 15, 2011

That’s cool. The amalgam, probably, of various memories? I’ve done that to myself before.

4. Dona - May 16, 2011

Sometimes my memories do that too.

5. Deloney - May 19, 2011

My first cigarette was on the first spring morning one year in a church parkette with my friend Drew. Menthol, he nicked a couple from his mother’s pack. It was like going to heaven. My last cigarette…hasn’t…not officially…been smoked yet.

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