“What do I do with it?” Lindsay pleaded, worried look in her eyes.

“First you need to calm down. Are you sure you actually want to do this?” I asked.

“Yes… watching you has made me wonder why a person smokes. I know that it feels good, but I want to feel it myself.”

“Are you sure?” Lindsay had visibly calmed down. In her inebriated state, she merely looked determined now.

“Okay- here is what you do. I don’t want you to inhale the smoke into your lungs yet. Just suck lightly on the cigarette and draw some of the smoke into your mouth. Then blow it out.”

Lindsay was a good student and did exactly as I told her. Her face looked puzzled. But she didn’t seem to hate it.

“What do you think?”

“Well- I’m kind of under whelmed. It isn’t nearly as gross I thought but I don’t understand how you would get addicted to that.”

“That’s because you are not inhaling silly.”

“Well you told me not to.”

“That’s because I didn’t want you to have an awful first experience.”

“I thought inhaling felt good.”

“It does. But you have to train your lungs to accept the smoke. Have you ever been sitting around a campfire and had the wind blow a gust of smoke into your face?”

“Yeah. It kind of sucks, a little hard to breath and the smoke burns your eyes.”

“Exactly. Or have you ever gone to a bingo hall? When you first get there, it seems really hard to breath, but after a while you don’t even notice that the room is full of smoke. Until you leave of course and are assaulted by the fresh air from outside.”

“Well I’m impatient. Teach me how to inhale.” Lindsay insisted.

“Okay- take a small amount of smoke into your mouth, but instead of blowing it out right away, open your mouth slightly and breath in. Pass that back and I’ll demonstrate.”  I took the cigarette from her and consciously took the smallest drag I could manage, opened my mouth to reveal the small ball of smoke and then snapped it into my awaiting lungs.

“You make it look easy enough.” Lindsay remarked. “Okay- I’m ready. Let me try.” I passed the cigarette back to her and she eagerly took it from me.  She did exactly as I had, only she waited to long after opening her mouth to inhale and the smoke just floated right now. But she was stubborn, and tried again right away. This time I could tell she was successful, as the smoke seemed to go in okay but sent her into a coughing fit on the journey out.

“How do you do this?” She asked, eyes watering, face red.

“I’ve never had a problem with inhaling. But trust me, it is almost better that you do. Less chance of overdoing it.”

“I’m not sure I ever want to try that again,” she said, handing the cigarette back to me.”

“I told you to just puff on it for a while.”

“You did warn me. The taste is not what I expected though.”

“Of course it isn’t. We are all told that “kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray” but reality is smoke does not taste any worse than coffee.”

“You are right. I had it set in my mind that it would be awful tasting.”

After that, Lindsay and I went back to watching the movie, but I could tell that neither of us were as engaged in it as we were before Lindsay attempted to smoke. As the movie finished, I decided that I felt like trying one of the menthols, to see if I preferred them to the regulars.

Lindsay noticed and said, “You are opening another pack already?”

“I’m trying to decide whether I like menthols or regular cigarettes better.” I mumbled with the unlit cigarette already between my lips. I could already taste the minty cool sensation. My heart sped up a bit in anticipation, as I brought my lighter to the tip, puffed lightly and inhaled. “Mmmm there are certain perks to the menthol. They physically feel really nice in your throat and lungs.”

“Really?” She gave me that curious look again, but at the same time looked as if she wouldn’t make her move unless I offered.

“You want to try?” I offered, holding the cigarette in her direction. “They are a bit easier to inhale.”

“I don’t know… after what happened last time…” Lindsay’s voice trailed off uncertainly.

“You coughed a bit, big deal. I almost puked my guts up the second time I ever smoked.” Part of me was wondering why I was encouraging her. I guess there is a special hell for people like me.

“Okay- give it to me.” Lindsay demanded, determined again. This time she wasted no time and quickly moved the cigarette towards her lips, took a small drag and without any trouble inhaled the smoke in and exhaled it out. The look in her eyes was priceless as it was a mix between looking intensely pleased with herself and euphoric. A slow smile formed on her lips, but she said nothing as if contemplating the moment.

“What do you think?” I asked curious.

“That felt good. Really good. Scary good. I definitely want to do it again.”

“What do you mean by scary good?”

“Meaning, I think I like it too much. I think I see why you want to smoke all the time.”

She was still holding the cigarette, staring at it, as if contemplating it. She didn’t seem want to give it back so I lit another of my own.

“I could have given it back to you,” she protested.

“Finish it. One cigarette won’t kill you and you clearly want to experiment some more with it. I can see the wheels turning in that smart little mind of yours.”

“The wheels are definitely turning.” She said pensively, taking a drag larger than her first.

We sat smoking in silence, smoky tendrils rising from our respective cigarettes, punctuated by the cones of our creamy exhales. By the end of her first cigarette, Lindsay was taking drags that rivaled mine and showed no sign of ill effects.

“You smoked that like a pro, Linds. You aren’t lightheaded or nauseous?” I asked.

“Nope. Actually I feel great. I really liked the menthols. But I feel pretty alert right now, we should put that third movie on… I’m not sure I will be able to go sleep quite yet.”

“Okay. I’ll put it in.” As I returned from putting the video in, I could see Lindsay eying the pack of menthols. Before sitting back down, I retrieved another ashtray, a lighter and the pack of B&H Menthols and put them beside her. “Feel free to help yourself I said.”

She gave me a really conflicted look, like I had just offered her the forbidden apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden. Well, maybe I had. Then she sighed, and said, “I could let myself smoke tonight, just to see what it’s like. But tomorrow I’m back to not smoking.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night.” I said and winked.

“Well, the smoking certainly won’t, I’m wide awake.” She complained, although not convincingly.

“Lets just watch the movie.” I replied. But I was curious to see if she would smoke again without my prodding and what the morning would bring. Only time would tell.

Chapter Fourteen