Monday, June 24, 2013

So Take That, Hitler

My grandmother once told me that Hitler was misunderstood. He really wasn’t a bad guy, just a guy who wanted the best for his country and his people. Around the same time, she gave me a very pretty 1940s-era cigarette case on the condition that when I grew up, I would never smoke. I promised. Years later when I was a teenager, I started smoking. Mostly because when you grow up around chain-smoking adults, smoking is the most natural thing in the world. And my opinion of my grandmother and Hitler had taken a hit in the intervening years.

I used to steal cigarettes from a drawer in the kitchen where, over the years, I could find any number of popular brands to choose from. I don’t know if anyone ever noticed the occasional pack disappearing, but no one ever said anything. I used to smoke in my room next to an open window, although I don’t know why I felt this was necessary, the entire house reeked of cigarettes. I guess it was because the door was closed and if an adult came in in a rare fit of perception, he/she might notice a cloud of smoke hovering in my bedroom. 

Once or twice, I accidentally dropped a cigarette between my bed and the wall. The bed was a massive piece of furniture with drawers built in and I couldn’t move it alone. I think I may have dumped a glass of water into the space so the house wouldn’t burn down. I wasn’t there when the room was cleaned out to sell the house roughly a decade later, but I’m guessing a couple of water-damaged old cigarettes didn’t draw much attention next to the dozens of empty vodka bottles (grandmother’s) almost certainly unearthed in the next room.

I eventually had to start buying my own cigarettes. The family’s finances were suffering at some point, and the adults had started buying these absolutely revolting off-brand smokes.



12 comments:

  1. Ah, smoking. What an interesting memory. You actually told us all we needed to know about your grandma with that first sentence...

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    1. I wish that first sentence was all I knew about her too.

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  2. Loved this. Your grandma is my kind of grandma except for the Hitler empathy maybe.

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    1. "Except for the Hitler empathy," sounds like a great title for something - nice turn of phrase.

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  3. So grandma...how'd you feel about Stalin? As for the vodka bottles...I think your grandma and my grandma would've hit it off.

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    1. Sorry kids, no time for baking cookies or going out anywhere, there's drinkin' to do!

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  4. The image of you pouring a glass of water between the wall and the bed to squelch a smoldering cigarette made me laugh. I used to steal cigarettes from my mom and smoke them behind our garage. They were Mores - those long skinny brown things.

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    1. Can't risk letting the house burn down. That would be irresponsible.

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  5. In a way I find it reassuring that your grandma hid vodka bottles. Hitler empathy in a sober, otherwise completely together person is much more frightening.

    Awesome post!

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  6. Older generation have some interesting views on the world, eh? Just like in Ukraine you still have people reminiscing about Stalin. Yeah, good old days.

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    1. Yes, interesting. Thanks for the comment:)

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