This is a story of long, long ago… back in the day when smoking wouldn’t hurt you and drinking and driving was well… just how drinkers got from one place to another…..
My first experience with tobacco came in the form of cigarettes that a friend of mine bought from a pool hall when we were in elementary school. This may sound young to you non-North Carolinians but back in the day, kids were born with a cigarette in their mouth and a pouch of Red Man loose leaf in their diaper… He went and got them one Friday night when we were at a football game at Memorial Stadium behind Sheep Harney Elementary School. We were the coolest guys ever! My coolness came in fits and spurts after that. A neighborhood buddy of mine and I would go back into the woods and smoke occasionally… at least until his dad caught us! That was a very bad day for him, but his dad never told on me, thank goodness. Later about that same year, a friend of mine got me a pack of cigarettes so I would have a pack to take off to camp with me that summer…. because how could a junior high student ever go off to camp without some smokes, right? In high school, there was an area designated for smoking if you had a permit from your parents. I don’t believe many people that were out there smoking had a permit, but you were definitely cool if you hung out there. I didn’t hang out there much, but did occasionally like to try to fit in with the smokers too.
When I was 15 I had a beer for the first time…. schiltz… actually. The first beer I had was a six pack… a little bit heavy amount to start with, I now know. I was sitting on a car at the Circle Drive In. Every time the police came by, we would all hide our beers… like they didn’t know we were all sitting there drinking. Heck, half of them had done the same thing back when they were in high school. Fortunately at this time I didn’t have my license so I was always riding with someone else. I say fortunate but that’s probably not the correct word since they usually had been drinking too. Once I got my license then I was the driver. I have no idea why God smiled upon me so during those Friday nights, but I am so grateful that He did.
So there we were… drinking and smoking… just running with the devil every chance we got… taking way too many chances with our own health… and way too many chances with the safety of everyone around us. But we were invincible… 10 foot tall and bulletproof as the saying goes. Nothing was going to happen to any of us. But after several miscues along the way… it caused me to pause a moment.. those sorts of things will have a tendency to make you stop and reflect some. I came to the conclusion that this was no way to live… not for me. And so I stopped (as I told a friend recently, I stopped.. because I’m no quitter!). I gave it all up…. for a while anyway.
Since then, I have learned the definition of moderation… and it seems to work a lot better for me these days. While I don’t run with the devil these days, I can still sense his presence… Now he’s got me convinced if I go to the gym every day I can become a runner again! I believe he really is trying to kill me!