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Front Porch Smoking

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Kieran Carroll

I love smoking. It’s terrible I know. I see the ads. I read the death statistics. It gets annoying having to walk away from your friends at social occasions. They’ve all quit. Can’t believe the discipline. I remember my first one. I was in my school uniform at this very station. A guy from De La Salle, Caringbah offered me one. I remember how his teeth were already stained yellow. It didn’t stop me. Unlike a lot of people when they have their first cigarette, I didn’t splutter or cough. I was already experienced in the art of watching other people smoke. Both my grandmothers did it. One grandfather used to hate the idea of his wife as a smoker. Gran used to smoke in the broom cupboard so the smell wouldn’t infect the house, or she’d get up well before him and have a few over endless pots of tea, a romance novel and some orange Life Savers. She’d get the cigarette between finger and thumb and puff one down in world record time. It was easier travelling for the other grandmother. I think that grandfather thought it kept her calm. And my Mum smoked. ‘Just socially’ she’d always say.

The boy who gave me that first one became my first boyfriend. We didn’t really have a lot to say to each other. We mostly went out in a group but when we were alone, we just smoked more than anything. We sat in parks and smoked. Waited on train stations and smoked. Occasionally went ten-pin bowling or to Luna Park and smoked. Went to the Hordern Pavilion and smoked. My grandmothers knew I smoked but I didn’t think my Mum did. The grandmother who smoked in the cupboard even started buying me packets of orange Life Savers to keep my breath fresh. A couple of times we went into the broom cupboard together. Sometimes I imagined this photo, kind of like a rock band shot: me, Mum and the two grandmothers hanging out somewhere grungy; all smoking and looking tough.

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