When my dad was five he lived in Chicago and my grandma Constance would ask him to go buy her a carton of cigarettes because she was a painter and she had paint all over her clothes and didn’t like to leave the house when she didn’t feel pretty.
She was like my other grandma in that regard, except my other grandma is called nana and she’s still alive and still puts on perfume and wears lipstick and purple dresses.
My dad would buy her cigarettes and when he was seven he stopped buying them because my grandpa fought to get custody of his little boy and so he came back to California to live with his stepmother and stepsister who is now still in California and living alone in a cluttered little room and everyone thinks she’s crazy and not to be trusted.
My grandpa smoked too, and he ran a bar and mechanic shop, so he was always eating red meat and drinking whiskey and smoking. He died when my dad was 21 and the last thing he did was ask my dad for a cigarette. And my dad had been smoking since he was little and taking drags he stole from his mom’s packs in Chicago, but he quit right then because his dad was dead.
I quit for two years too and when I went to Vietnam the second time I told everyone to stay away from me when they smoked. The plump redhead and the professor were only smoking because they were abroad and they could get away with it without making their husbands angry. They smoked anyway, and the tour guide who wasn’t actually attractive but was sexy in that confident I can fuck anything I want to manner smoked, and I asked him for a drag, and then I started buying them again. And once you buy them you are hooked.
I think about old movies where Ginger Rogers lingers over a romantic moment with a slender vintage Lucky Strike. I think about things like that because the alternative would be ugly and I don’t want to leave my house feeling ugly.
–From Winter 2013