I can't start to imagine the irony of my mom catching me smoking a cigarette when I was in the rehab for a junk problem. ( It was more like a 'stay-in with the family' kind of rehab with actual psychiatrists.) I was having a bad headache that evening and couldn't refuse when the acquaintance insisted. He was another inmate himself and he had gotten the cigarettes from his father who pretended to be strict at first, but then gave in with a little griping.
I could tell she was furious. 'When calves mix with pigs...', she was saying. The walk back to our room was almost silent otherwise.
Reaching the room, I sat in the beanbag chair outside in order to avoid her, pretending to write diary. My childhood is consistent with a potential addict's. The greatest influence of my life, my father, was a drinker and a smoker. My sister used to smell my father's shirts in the hanger and say she could smell dad. It reeked of sweat and tobacco smoke. Sometimes in the late afternoons we took cigarettes from his shirt and put them in our mouths, pretending we're smoking. One day my mom found out, snatched the cigarettes from our hands, awarding each of us with a slap on the cheek.
I went in for a drink, eyeing my mom who was watching TV. Her silence was killing me. I wished she had just snatched the cigarette from my hand and had slapped my cheek. She asked if I wanted dinner, with a casual tone. I stared at her dumbly. I felt bad for her. I felt bad for the acquaintance's father. I was choking-sad suddenly and I kept on staring at her without saying anything. All I could tell her was: Ma, I just wanted to smell like dad.