Thursday, October 10, 2013

Acquiring a Habit

I know exactly when, where and why I started smoking and whom I was with at the time.

For a long time I was the only non-smoker in my immediate family. My parents, both my two sisters and their boyfriends (later husbands) were all smokers. When they lit up their cigarettes after dinners I used to run around frantically, open up windows and complain loudly about the smoke and the smell and how I couldn't breathe.

The summer when I was 26 years old, I decided to travel a month around Europe on Interrail. I was studying law at the university at the time and had suddenly discovered that I had an opening of four weeks after the term ended and my summer job started. As a young man with an overprotective father, I knew I could not tell my parents my decision too long in advance because that would give my father too much time to launch a campaign of trying to persuade me to travel in a "safer" way.

I broke the news to my parents the evening before I was going to leave. All hell temporarily broke lose and I was fed with images of myself laying murdered, slaughtered, violated, raped, maimed, brutalized etc. in every street, town square or hotel room in Europe by my poor father. When he calmed down, I promised to phone at least once a week and "if ever anything bad happened, however minor I may think it was". After making this deal with my devil father, I was graciously "allowed" to travel.

The morning after I left started with a short trip to Copenhagen to catch the "North Express" at one o'clock in the afternoon. The Nord Express is (or was) a daily railway connection  between Copenhagen and Paris and viceversa.

I was early, so I could choose where to sit and found a nice compartment with eight seats and settled in before the other passengers started arriving. The last one to arrive just before the train departed, was a tall and husky blond guy with trembling hands, amazing blue eyes and a dazzling smile. He sat down opposite me.

At first there was this usual awkward silence in the compartment but after awhile we all started talking a little and introducing ourselves and sharing our travel plans. The guy said his name was Andrew and that he was a Canadian from Newfoundland on vacation in Europe. He was on his way to Paris for a few days before he was joining an archeological excavation at some place outside the city.

Andy was a smoker, he smoked Marlboro's. I didn't mind a bit when he lit up a cigarette, strangely enough. When we had travelled together a while, he offered me to come with him for a cigarette in the corridor. I gladly went along with him and accepted the cigarette and puffed on it, carefully at first so as not to reveal that I was a beginner. We had a great time together and the smoke pauses repeated themselves during the trip until we settled in for the night. Andy stretched out his unshod feet towards my side and I did the same and in that way we went to sleep resting our heads on the others feet.

When we arrived in Paris we decided to get a room at a hotel together, until it was time for him to continue to his damn excavation. We had four wonderful days together in Paris. I had fallen in love and was sad to part. We stayed in touch the first six months after, but then with time and distance and other men the letters and cards swindled and finally ended. The only thing I was left with was my newly acquired habit of smoking.

To this day I still smoke Marlboro's and I think of Andy when I see a man with more than usual tremor in his hands.


  1. Aren't experiences and memories like this priceless? Smoking is bad yes but as a result of an experience like this it was all part of what made it memorable. Now it is time to evolve and quit smoking as well as gain more experiences we have all yet to experience. Things that our memories can cherish decades from now on our death beds, these memories will make us smile!

  2. i have no idea when i started probably age 13-14 just because... did stop for 7 years tho and then hold on to your horses..started again when my mom passed away from...taadaaa lungcancer!!!! how stupid isnt that!!! however i AM on my way to quit again have cut down and WILL cut even more towards quitting yes i am.....
    ok question to you bock.. what did your parents say when you told them you started smoking???

    1. They said , "How stupid can you be to start smoking when you are in your 20's?".

      I never did come up with a good answer to that question...

    2. hey good enough hehe i guess i expected a more yell at you tho hahahha as thy did care for you going on the interrail in the first place as such;)


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