Some of my 15-year-old students asked me today if I’d buy them cigarettes this spring. Starting in May, all cigarette and alcohol vending machines will have ID checkers installed. Poor kids. In my day, we went through a similar problem. I was smoking when cigarette vending machines become outlawed. We all relied on clerks that didn't card, cool moms, and shoulder-tapping. At school there was an underground business where someone would buy cartons and then sell packs to their friends.
When I was younger I told myself that I would definitely buy cigarettes for any kid who asked. I would be “the cool adult.” Boy have I changed.
I told the kids I wouldn't help them, and that they should quit sooner than later, because smoking is stupid and turns you into a slave. But it made me feel good that they asked. They trust me not to tell the teachers that they smoke.
After school they took me to their secret smoking spot by the school. It's a great little alley between a building and a wall, completely hidden, and I felt honored to get to see it.
“It’s a great spot, right?” said one of the boys.
“Yeah, it’s great!” I replied.
Remember all the secret spots and meeting places we had when we were kids? Under bridges, inside tunnels, behind sheds, under shrubbery... When we snuck out at night, these were the places we would meet. God I loved sneaking out; hiding whenever there was a car, for fear that it was a cop, or a bully. Dressing dark, smoking with my friends in the middle of the night in secret places…Good times and great oldies.
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