There Was This Girl

There was this girl.

There always is, isn’t there? A girl, a dream, and some magic beans to make it all turn out the way we want it to, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. It’s funny how, when you’re 18, 19, 20, the world seems so small, the possibilities so large, how everything is within your reach, even when it isn’t.

So there was this girl. She wasn’t typically someone I would go after, because I thought she was well out of my league. Imagine on a scale of 1 to 10 — she was a 9 — I only trusted myself to go after 6’s and 7’s because I hated rejection, and most 9’s would dismiss me out of hand. It was okay. I knew I wasn’t 9 material.

But this girl…

She was beautiful in all the ways that counted, though I barely knew her. She was like Juliet, this wish list made real, but so dangerous in pretty much every way. This was obvious almost from the start. She wasn’t religious at all (and if she had been, it most certainly wouldn’t have been the religion I had been raised in), she was a very good dancer (or so she said), and she didn’t know she was a 9.

Isn’t that fascinating? So often people don’t recognize what they look like to others, how they’re perceived by the people they come in contact with. Usually 9’s know they’re 9’s because of all the attention they receive, but that’s not always the case, especially if they’ve “grown into themselves.” They’re used to being 5’s and 6’s so that’s all they see when they look in the mirror. Continue reading “There Was This Girl”

Where There’s Smoke…

A camel smoking. Hmmm.

When I was a kid there was a huge billboard in downtown Philadelphia with the Marlboro Man on it. You remember him, the rugged everyman who apparently smoked a pack of reds every day before lunch, and he somehow maintained his brilliant physique and eyes that could pierce steel. And out on I-95 there was another billboard dedicated to a caricature of a camel, also smoking a cigarette. In very small print on both signs was a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General saying something about smoking being harmful to your health. I, of course, saw neither one of these signs, but I knew what they looked like because they were everywhere.

We rode the subway to church most Saturdays, and in the underground world of the subway there were huge billboards lined up on both sides of the tracks. It was funny sometimes when a train was on the opposite track and I could see just a partial billboard through the gap in the train cars. When I first saw a Marlboro Man sign I was waiting for the El at 30th Street Station and there were two posters of him flanking a billboard for the film CB4, which also seemed to celebrate smoking as a lifestyle choice. And I wasn’t interested. It had nothing to do with the Surgeon General’s warning, and everything to do with how I was raised, to think my body was the temple of God, and to avoid anything that would ruin that temple.

That rugged dude.

So, why did I start smoking three years later? Easy. I wanted to fit in. Continue reading “Where There’s Smoke…”