When I was about 15 years old, my parents and I took a car trip to Canada. I was born when my parents were very young, barely out of their teens, so I assume that by the time that I was a teenager they were good and sick of this parenting shit and decided that the best way to dispose of me and recapture their youth was to kill me with boredom. A drive through Canada was the perfect weapon. I suspect it's the culprit in a few cold cases.
We drove from Montreal to Prince Edward Island, because my father remembered reading "something fascinating" about it once. Of course he couldn't remember what he'd read about it, but when I suggested that it was the birth place of Anne of Green Gables, he rejected it. "No, but It was very fascinating," he told me. Ten thousand times along the way.
If I had to guess how long the drive took, I'd put money on five years, although Google maps insists it's only eleven hours. Maybe cars are faster now. During the time of sitting alone in the backseat and looking at the backs of my parents' heads, I'd invented a few alter egos for myself, planned my funeral and wondered who'd show up, decided that it would be fun if David Bowie were my boyfriend and would pick me up after school in his car so those fucking bitches in my class could die of envy, and wrote a few award winning novels in my mind. By that point, we'd driven approximately twelve miles.
I was so bored with the trip that I decided that the only way to spruce it up was to take up smoking. I'm not sure how the idea came to me, but once it fixed itself in my mind, I knew that as an award winning novelist and the love of David Bowie's life, I had to light up and soon.
I asked my parents if we could stop at the next rest stop.
Now if you're ever on a car trip with my parents, you should know that that lunatic astronaut lady who drove a kazillion miles to see or kill her beloved's new flame wearing Depends was probably trained by them. They do not believe in rest stops.
"Why you need to the stop?" mama asked me and since I didn't think that "I'm working on a nicotine addiction" was the answer that would make them acquiesce and pull into a rest stop, so I pled stomach.
"You know, bathroom," I quasi-moaned (by the way, all these conversations are approximate. If you think that I'm really quoting dialogue from decades ago, I must advise you that you are super gullible and shouldn't be making any investments. As a matter of fact, you should probably have a legal guardian to make all your decisions for you. I suggest myself.)
"Bathroom what?" Mama asked. Somehow in my quest for a smoke, I'd forgotten that mama and papa did not believe that things such as taking a shit were private and were up for family discussion.
"I have diarrhea," I threw her a bone.
"What diarrhea?" She became alarmed. "You had it already? I don't smell it, do you?" she asked papa.
"I'm driving," papa said, cracking the window.
"I didn't shit in the car!" I yelled. It was a miracle that I'd survived so long without smoking in this family, "but my stomach hurts and maybe I have to have diarrhea soon. If you don't mind!"
"Maybe it's not diarrhea, maybe you have your menses. When did you menses last?" mama asked.
"OH MY GOD! I can't believe you are humiliating me by talking about menstruation in front of MY FATHER!"
"I really not listening," papa said. "Did someone say something?"
I seethed in the back seat but afew minutes over we pulled into a rest stop.
"Don't go with any strangers," mama warned. "What if they offer candy?" I asked. I'm proud to say that we are celebrating thirty years of making that joke. Neither one of them got out of the car.
I chose my cigarettes quickly--Virginia Slims because they sponsored the Viriginia Slims tennis tournament and I was such an avid tennis fan that my adoration of Martina Navratillova temporarily lesbianized me.. Menthol, obviously, because it sounded more delicious than non-menthol. I lit up in the bathroom and inhaled. Of course I inhaled through my nose because breathing in the smoke didn't appeal to me, but I liked looking at myself in the mirror holding a cigarette. I rubbed my temples for effect, and then panicked that I'd set my hair on fire. Yes, this was the life. I had my cigarettes to get through this hell of a trip. I rinsed my mouth out for a long time and maniacally chewed a stick of gum before returning to the car.
"I was right," I told mama. "It's a good thing we stopped."
"Unfortunately" my stomach acted up for the rest of the trip, so we had to make frequent stops.
Soon the novelty of my new addiction started to wear off. Shouldn't smoking be more fun?And the whole rigamorole with the mouth rinsing, it was like a full-time job or something. Why don't they make it more kid friendly, like including some bubble gum in every pack? Fuck. So after a few more stops, I decided to give up cigarettes. And I did. Back then we were tough and didn't need all this handholding and patches.
I just quit cold turkey.
Labels: Fun with mama and papa