Thursday, November 20, 2008

Smoking Cigarettes and Watching Captain Kangaroo

I am almost never around cigarette smoke. Every place here outside and inside of Boulder is smoke-free. Few people in my workplace smoke; those who do keep it low profile. One of my employees worked for me for a year and a half before I knew he smoked--and only then because someone else mentioned it. Here in this part of Colorado, it isn't something you brag about.

Yet, on that rare occasion when I catch a whiff of someone's cigarette, like walking to my car at the grocery store, it takes me back to my childhood. Yes, an odd thing, but I associate the smell of cigarette smoke with growing up in Kentucky. Although no one in my household was a smoker, I was surrounded by others who were. My uncle smoked; he is in precarious health today as a result. My beloved next door neighbor smoked; she has now passed away, but it was not cigarette-related. Lots of my classmates smoked; it was a rite of passage into adolescence, unfortunately.

Cigarette smoke reminds me of parties and picnics and concerts and going to college. It used to be that every other person I encountered was a smoker. Yes, I'd estimate 50 percent. Nowadays, it's down below 5 percent, I'd guess. Maybe more with the folks who don't let anyone know that they smoke. Sometimes I guess when I catch the faintest whiff on their clothes.

Last week when I walked out of the grocery store, I pushed my cart through the smoker's zone, and caught that familiar aroma. I was back in Kentucky in a flash, waiting for the bus outside of high school, not smoking but smelling. It feels so familiar.

Oh, and yes, I was a fan of Captain Kangaroo growing up.

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