On the Evils of Smoking (And Puberty)

There is nothing better than hearing one of your favourite songs played on the radio, even better when it is a long time favourite and one that you hadn’t heard in ages, unearthed to tickle the airwaves once more.

Music has the ability to move your emotions. It can motivate you, it can take you places, it can make you laugh, or even cry, it can sometimes rejoin you with distant memories…

The other day TomO and I were out driving and one such song came on the radio, Most People I Know (Think That I’m Crazy), by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecsa great Aussie rock-band.

 Initially formed in the 1960s, the band parted ways, but reformed again in 1971. It was during this second coming that I was growing up in Townsville, North Queensland, heading into puberty at the rate of knots and just as this song was released.

Crikey, those days were free and easy.  You could head off on your bike with your mates in the morning, with strict instructions to be back for dinner. In reality we were usually back by lunchtime.

Food was required on a regular basis with all that testosterone sloshing around!

But I’m digressing from the story, testosterone and girls is for another time, much later…

Anyway, TomO says…

“So Dad, you like this song, hey?

“It’s fitting ‘cause Mum and me think you are just a little bit crazy, that’s for sure.”

I reminded him that he was a chip off the old-block and he might just be a little crazy as well…

“Sure, it is one of my all time favourites” I said, “it takes me back to a time when I was around your age, maybe a touch older.”

“Were you going through puberty”, he asked?

TomO tells me “Things are a happening down there, Dad.”

Geez, I wasn’t long out of Sesame Street at his age and I was still struggling with the alphabet…

But moving along…the song now in full swing, I said,

“Yeah, sure mate, I love that song, but it makes me feel sick!”

“How could it make you feel sick if you like it?”

A fair question I thought as I gave myself a mental smack around the chops…

“See, Dad you are crazy.”

“How could you love a song and say that it makes you sick at the same time, it doesn’t make sense.”

Realising I had just aroused an interest that would have him hunting down an answer like a pit bull terrier nipping at your heels I now had to share a story that had been holed up inside that little brain of mine, never shared with anyone before that moment…

If I was Homer Simpson, I’d be slapping my forehead and saying, DOH!

The song had finished and I vowed to find a quiet moment up in The Shed later in the day when I could crank it back up on my iPod.

Anyway, with him nipping away I thought this  a good opportunity to reinforce the evils of smoking.

At school I’d heard some mates talking about how they had tried smoking, but I was shying away from these discussions as I was too scared to give it a go…

In reality, I did want to give it a go, but didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my mates, I mean what if I threw up, or coughed, or whatever, I’d be the laughing stock of class 6E and maybe even risk being dropped from the footy team.

It was about mid-semester when that fateful day arrived, I just didn’t recognise it when I got out of bed that morning and headed to school, after all it was the same as any other day, at least I thought it was.

On the way home I passed Leong’s corner shop. You’ll know the place, full of lollies, ice-creams, chips, stuff I didn’t usually have any money to spend on, but still I passed by most days.

I was hanging around outside on my bike, not sure what I was actually waiting for as I was still a couple of years away from taking a more active interest in the girls that hung out there. And no I wasn’t looking at boys either, just on the off chance you’re wondering!

I see this bloke pull up in a flash car, well I thought it was flash anyway, a new Holden Kingswood sedan.  As he gets out he toss’s a half-finished cigarette onto the ground.

The next couple of moments were a blur really, certainly impulsive, and isn’t that the story of my life.

I swooped on that smouldering cigarette, or durrie, as the older boys called them, with all the zest of two seagulls fighting over a lone chip, discarded uncaringly on a beach side promenade.

Quickly extinguishing it, I hid it in my pocket and was back on my bike.

Maybe that is where my athletic prowess, if I can call it that, started as I peddled faster and harder than I had ever done before, and probably ever since.

I swore the whole world witnessed this event and the police would be on to me before I got home, sirens blaring, handcuffed and dragged before my parents. Oh my gawd, the risk I was taking of being caught with this solitary piece of contraband.

Luck was seemingly on my side, I got home, there was still Mum to navigate past as I headed for the kitchen cupboard that stored the matches.

Would she miss a box?

The mind was racing, but I needn’t have worried. I should have been in the military, the task was completed with precision, I had the matches and the cigarette, there was an air of subterfuge about the whole thing, a tinge of excitement…

By now I was feeling like a fugitive running from the law as I headed down to the old sawmill a couple of kilometres from home.

In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t do it the time old-fashioned way and light the bloody thing up behind the shed.

Anyway, I scaled an old sawdust pile and slid down the other side, careful to remain well out of sight.

Fumbling, I took that used cigarette, yep the one covered in someone else’s spit and saliva, probably contaminated with all kinds of germs and put it in my mouth.

For crying out loud, this thing had been between the lips of someone I didn’t know.

But it was far too late to contemplate now as the flame of the match was licking at my fingers like an out-of-control bush fire…

This was supposed to be a pleasant experience, or so they say. I tried to be sophisticated about it…

Sophisticated, hell, who was I kidding? I was covered in sawdust, sucking on a discarded fag, strewth what was I thinking…

As things stood I still wasn’t willing to kiss Debbie Kelly, our next door neighbour, despite her numerous advances for fear of catching girl germs. But I had someone’s used fag, durrie, whatever you want to call the damned thing between my lips…

I grew up with the Kelly girls and their father was a dentist, so surely they wouldn’t have too many girl germs swilling around in their saliva.

Okay, so I’ll just put it out there…

It was gross, yep, let me say it again, gross…

But hey, give me a break, I might have been all of thirteen, thinking I was going on twenty-one or something. I couldn’t even afford a packet of lollies from Leong’s store, let alone a packet of durries.

I coughed my way through that cigarette.

At one stage I was thinking that snogging Debbie Kelly couldn’t possibly be this bad, but as they say, the rest is history.

I got on my bike and headed towards home, I wasn’t feeling one way or the other on this smoking thing, I was indifferent at best, and maybe now I had gotten this out the way I could take Debbie Kelly up on her offer of a snog, just for comparison.

Crikey, about half-way home it hit me, my head started spinning and I felt the whole world was about to end.

I felt sick, I mean really sick.

I made it home and headed for the shower, I’m sure Mum was wondering how I came to be covered in sawdust, but she didn’t ask. Perhaps she thought I was stealing a kiss from Debbie Kelly down at the old sawmill?

If only that had been the case, maybe I would have a cheeky smile on my face each time I heard Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs belt out that song.

TomO listened on intently. I did notice a bit of a wry smile coming out the corner of his mouth, I thought perhaps he was weighing up what he would have done, a snog or the cigarette…

You see as I lay back on my bed, my head spinning faster than an out of control merry-go-round, Billy and the Boys were belting out that classic on the radio, and I felt so sick, so very sick…

But geez, I still love that song!

Footnote

Over the past three months I have been able to step up my rowing and fitness regime following the injuries I suffered in 2013. 

Usually this is done up in “The Shed” and if it isn’t silly o’clock in the morning, but past the cocktail hour in the afternoon, I have a dose of good old fashioned Aussie Rock  playing on the iPod.

A couple of days ago, whilst playing on random, this song came up, it brought a smile to my face, but turned my stomach as I was rounding off a 15,000 metre row.

Anyway, I thought I would indulge myself and share this story once again…

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

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22 thoughts on “On the Evils of Smoking (And Puberty)

  1. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist March 17, 2014 / 2:06 am

    I’m kind of glad in advance I’m the mum in the parent-son relationship after reading that story. But I’m glad your boy has someone to talk to! Hope he learns his lesson about smoking (choose your soundtrack very carefully).

    Gosh, the mention of that song brought back memories, though none so vivid as yours.

    Like

  2. Mama Cormier March 10, 2014 / 11:27 pm

    Loved this story. Can’t say I ever wanted to try smoking at that age. We were always hiding my parent’s cigarettes because we wanted them to quit. They did eventually but not because we wanted them to. At university my room mate and I took one drag (didn’t inhale) from a friend’s cigarette. I hated it and my room mate eventually became addicted.

    Like

    • Baz - The Landy March 11, 2014 / 5:02 am

      Thanks! And even better you never took it up…!

      Like

  3. Cowboys and Crossbones March 8, 2014 / 9:02 am

    Great story! I knew there was a streak of rebellion in you! And congrats to you for your accomplishments in healing. Bet it feels good to be back at it again.

    Like

  4. nancytex2013 March 8, 2014 / 1:03 am

    Great coming-of-age story, Baz. I hope TomO appreciated it!
    And – f&*k yeah! on the 15,000 meters rowed! that is totally bad-ass!! Go you!

    Like

    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:09 am

      Thanks, I’m delaying my Saturday morning rowing session right now, but best I get going! Rowing around 120,000/130,000 metres a week presently in two daily sessions…

      Starting to feel much better for it…!

      Like

      • nancytex2013 March 8, 2014 / 6:42 am

        Well you motivated me to get back to the Rowing Machine, that’s for sure. After 3 or 4 months of not touching one, I plunked down this afternoon and gave ‘er a go. 10,000 meters in 57:21. Slower than my 5,000 meter pace, but still respectable, I think.

        An hour later, I’m already feeling the lactic acid build up. Tomorrow won’t be fun. 🙂

        Like

  5. icescreammama March 7, 2014 / 10:55 pm

    what a perfect teen story and sharing moment. we all ‘experimented’ a bit like that back then. it’s part of growing up, i guess. only looking back do we see how stupid or disgusting some of those things were.

    Like

    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:07 am

      And the funny thing is, the song still makes my stomach turn, every time, how does that work?

      It’s a crazy world, and we’re loving it…! 🙂

      Like

  6. Jim in IA March 7, 2014 / 10:20 pm

    That was fun to read. Well told. My little brother and I ate a package of saltines after we sneaked a cigarette behind the corn crib. No one discovered.

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    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:16 am

      Yeah, but that was last week wasn’t it 😉

      Like

  7. restlessjo March 7, 2014 / 6:33 pm

    Thanks for the smile, Baz 🙂 You tell it so enthrallingly. Super cool you, down at the sawmill- not! Look how far you’ve come.

    Like

    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:16 am

      Now I’ve got a shed in the back yard, just wondering what it will be for TomO, a durrie, or a snog 😉

      Like

  8. Tiny March 7, 2014 / 3:31 pm

    Loved the story! A great teachable moment too.

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    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:14 am

      Might have to play that song again this morning when I row!

      Like

  9. Gallivanta March 7, 2014 / 3:03 pm

    That’s a cautionary tale. And makes me wonder why mothers didn’t warn their daughters about the dangers of cross-contaminated lips :). Seems far more significant/likely than what they did warn us about.

    Like

      • Gallivanta March 8, 2014 / 12:53 pm

        A lucky escape for both of you, perhaps!

        Like

  10. Shelley March 7, 2014 / 2:57 pm

    Ha! Ha! Mine was with my sister behind a shed. Coughed and coughed and coughed. BTW good to see you back in shape.

    Like

    • Baz - The Landy March 8, 2014 / 6:13 am

      Crikey, we’ve got a shed, best I keep an eye on TomO!

      And yes, getting back int shape thanks, it takes time though, and hoping to do some climbing through late spring/winter in the Blue Mountains, just rock climbing at this stage…

      Cheers, Baz

      Like

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