Red Licorice and Cigars

As a teenager, I took up smoking small cigars. It was a rebellion against the cheerleaders who rode the bus with me to Catholic high school. I figured if they wouldn’t stop stinking up the back of the bus with their cigarette smoke, I would stink it up worse. I had also found out that if you are fourteen, you can’t buy cigarettes yourself. But if you buy Tijuana Smalls, and say that they are for your Dad, the store clerk believes you.

I continued smoking Tijuana Smalls off and on, even when I wasn’t riding the bus. I became involved in a Catholic youth organization, and would occasionally smoke one during our fellowship sessions. That’s what I liked about that group. They accepted me for who I was, and didn’t shun me for my sometimes outrageous behavior. Once I sat next to Father Mike in the circle. I was smoking a cigar, and eating red shoestring licorice. I found out that the licorice was hollow, like a straw. While he was expounding on some religious thought, I reached behind him, with one end of the licorice in my hand, and the other in my mouth. Unknown to him (until everyone burst into laughter), I blew the smoke, and made it look like it was coming out of one of his ears. When he realized what was happening, he laughed, too.

One day, when I went to him for confession, he said he wanted to talk to me about my cigar smoking. “Uh oh,” I thought. “Here it comes…” I thought I was going to be reprimanded for my unladylike behavior. With fake concern on his face, he reached into his desk and pulled out a box of Garcia y Vega cigars. “Have one of these,” he said, passing me a fat cigar. He took one, too, and gave us both a light. Leaning back in his leather chair, he said, “Now that’s a cigar.” It turns out he was only concerned with the lack of quality in my choice of cigar.