By Mike Johnson
I smoked my last cigar at age 13. My buddy and I swiped a pack and gave them a try.
This was a big mistake. It was like inhaling sea sickness. I turned green.
When dad came home he found me moaning on the couch, wishing I was dead. Due to inexperience and no perspective, kids are clueless idiots. Like a rabbit that thinks it’s invisible because it freezes movement, a kid thinks he can hide bad behavior from a parent.
Dad sized up the situation in about a second.
“You been smoking, fella?”
“Yeah,” I whimpered, cracking like an egg.
Today, the parent would see the kid has already suffered enough and just send him to bed. That’s not the way things were handled in 1970.
Dads saw this as an opportunity to burn the lesson so deeply into flesh there’d be no chance of ever forgetting.
He took me into the bathroom, turned on the hot water and shut the door. When he returned to the steamy room, he was holding the largest cigar I’d ever seen.
“Smoke it, fella.”
This was impossible. Surreal. the Twilight Zone.
He was serious.
There are times you just abandon your body and mentally go somewhere else for survival. This was one of those times.
I took a tentative puff.
How many times was he going to kill me? I was too sick to resist anything. After about five decades of this he finally released me to bed.
In today’s world, if dad hadn’t already died, he’d be getting out of prison about now. In 1970, this was just another funny parenting story.
Like smoking, some types of discipline are eventually seen as big mistakes.
But the lesson stuck. The story gets embellished. My kids and grandkids look at me as if I survived 18 years in Shawshank.
Perhaps I did. But they’ll never be another cigar in my life again. EVER.
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