In the summer between my fifth and sixth grades, one of my best friends stole a case (as in dozens of cartons) of cigarettes from the country club where he worked. Being generous - at least with ill-begotten goods - he supplied me with as many cigarettes as I could smoke. We rode our bicycles all around the town of Ortonville and our two-stroke dirt-bikes across the western Minnesota countryside for several weeks, cigs dangling rakishly from between our lips, chain-smoking everywhere we went to the tune of about five packs per day. Each. We thought we looked pretty damned good.
After participating as hard as I could in this attempt to be cool, I developed a cough. Amazing, I know. It got pretty bad, to the point that my mom took me to see the doctor. Turns out it was bronchitis. This was in the days when parents accompanied children into the examination room (do they still do that?), so when the doctor - a gray-haired, gruff mountain of a man - asked me, "Chris, do you smoke?" there was only one answer: "No, sir." Mind you, my mom wouldn't know any better, because she turned at least a pack a day into piles of ash, so I figured my fib would be successful. Unfortunately, Dr. Gruff turned to my mom - whom, I should mention, was also a big, scary woman, nearly six feet tall and prone to emotional outburst - and asked, "Linda, do you smoke in front of your children?" Being smarter than I, she knew the stink would put the lie to her denial, so she admitted to it.
What followed was Dr. Gruff berating my mother for what felt like hours, enumerating the ills of smoking in front of developing children, not to mention her own health, etc. She immediately quit smoking, then resumed but only smoked outside.
I had gotten my mom in trouble! That was it: I never smoked again.