When I was in fourth grade, my class took a field trip to the American Tobacco plant in nearby Durham, North Carolina. There we witnessed the making of cigarettes and were given free packs to take home to our parents. I tell people this and they ask me how old I am, thinking, I guess, that I went to the world's first elementary school, one where we wrote on cave walls and hunted our lunch with clubs. Then I mention the smoking lounge at my high school. It was outdoors, but, still, you'd never find anything like that now, not even if the school was in a prison.
I recall seeing ashtrays in movie theatres and grocery stores, but they didn't make me want to smoke. In fact, it was just the opposite. Once, I drove an embroidery needle into my mother's carton of Winstons, over and over, as if it were a voodoo doll. She then beat me for twenty seconds, at which point she ran out of breath and stood there panting, "That's . . . not . . . funny."
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