General Interest

“I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes” (Sung by Ronnie Dunn)

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Laverne Bardy

Laverne Bardy

Country singer Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks and Dunn, came out with an amazing song titled “I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes.” The sentiments expressed  throughout the song brought me back to an era that started when I was thirteen, and fell deeply in love for the first time. Our relationship lasted from eighth grade through the middle of our sophomore year, when family pressures insisted that it end. Our breakup has remained the most excruciating experience of my entire life. It was an innocent love – never more than sweet kisses. I miss what was never allowed to flourish, or die a natural death.

Ronnie Dunn’s song conjured up so many feelings and memories I’d forgotten. Sometimes I, too, wish I still smoked cigarettes. They signified so many pleasant things, such as independence, and an exciting feeling of rebellion. A cigarette was something to look forward to at the end of dinner, when speaking on the phone and, of course, it was the pause that refreshed after making love.

I was fifteen and a sophomore in highschool when I lit up my first cigarette at my girlfriend’s house. I can’t recall which girlfriend – but I remember being surrounded by a group of friends who were cheering me on. I should have realized after my first drag that cigarettes were not my friends. I crumbled to the floor, landed on my friend’s white shag rug, and laid there an undetermined amount of time, waiting for the room to stop spinning. Then I stood up and took a second drag.

In all other aspects of my life I was not a follower. In fact, I was a nauseatingly good girl. I couldn’t bear the thought of displeasing my loving, but strict, parents so I followed all the rules they laid down; and there were a great many; most of which began “Good girls do this, and bad girls do that.” Unlike most girls my age, I did not rebel. In retrospect I now know that a little rebelling may have been more difficult on my parents, but healthier – by far – for me.

I had dates every Friday, Saturday and Sunday all through highschool, and while that was great fun, I never experienced the kind of fun many of my girlfriends did. I was far too busy rejecting boys advances because good girls weren’t permitted to have that kind of fun. My father said that a girl’s reputation always arrived at a destination before she did, and it was that reputation by which she would be judged. I don’t think a sullied reputation would have mattered very much to me had I a mind of my own back then, so I’m pretty sure I would do things differently today.

My mother used to hang up all the clothes I left piled on my bed and on my floor. My father told her not to pamper me, but she said, “Aww, Joe, she’ll only be young once.” She was wonderful, but he was right. I miss being spoiled.

I lived in New Jersey where the drinking age was eighteen. But, just across the river, in Staten Island, the drinking age was seventeen. Every Saturday night piles of kids from Jersey schools would drive to Staten Island and drink. I was never one of those kids.  I miss never having gone with them.

Recently, my ex-husband handed me a package of photos he knew I’d wanted for a long while. The pictures were of me in my mid-twenties and my children from between birth and four years of age. I was thrilled to have them, but as I sat there staring at this pretty young girl with long silky brown hair, huge dark eyes and drop-dead figure, tears welled up. I barely recognized or remembered her and, God knows, I never fully appreciated her back then.

Today my waist is thick, my breasts swing low and I’m losing the battle with Arthritis to keep me standing erect. While a sense of humor does help most of the time, I miss my lovely figure.

So, yes, I sometimes miss my youth. I don’t dwell on it, and I’m not longing to go back in time,  but periodically I do revisit days gone by. And while I do sometimes wish I still smoked cigarettes, mostly I miss the bad things I never did.
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Editor’s Notes: Laverne H. Bardy is a syndicated humor columnist. Visit her at www.LaverneBardy.com. She’s the author of “How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?”  Her articles appear regularly on AfterFiftyLiving.com. She blogs for the HuffingtonPost.com and is also a columnist for RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, Shrewsbury.net, and WritersBeat.com. Copyright, Laverne H. Bardy, published with permission.

Laverne H. Bardy’s humor column, Laverne’s View, has been syndicated with Senior News Wire Services since 2004, and is read in newspapers throughout the United States, Canada and India. She wrote for 50 Plus Monthly, a regional New Jersey newspaper, where loyal readers laughed at her humor from 1999 to 2009. Currently she blogs for Huffington Post’s “Fifty” section, and writes for us here at  www.AfterFiftyLiving.com, as well as www.RetireEarlyLifestyle.com and www.Shrewsbury.net.

Laverne began her writing career in the mid 1970’s, when she was asked to write and edit Hotline, the Parent/Teacher newsletter at the school her children attended, in Livingston, New Jersey. During that same period she wrote one play, collaborated in writing another, and worked with the Livingston school system’s psychologist to write a series of Behavioral Modification skits that were presented to parents and teachers of the student body.

Laverne wrote human interest stories for West Essex Tribune and The Newark Star Ledger for a stretch then went on to join the staff of Northern Horizon’s newspaper.

Some publications Laverne’s work has appeared in are Reader’s Digest, Mature Living, Montage Magazine, Northern Horizons,Woman’s Hockey, Big Apple Parents’ Paper, The Daily Record newspaper and New Jersey Jewish News. Anthologies include Chocolate for a Woman’s Courage, Rocking Chair Reader, Bedpan Banter, Story House, and Craft of the Modern Writer. She is currently working on a book, How the (Bleep) Did I Get This Old?, a compilation of her columns, life stories and ramblings. Laverne was interviewed by Bottom Line Retirement, twice.

When she is not writing Laverne gives talks and humorous readings in coffee shops, libraries, and for various organizations and workshops. Some of her topics include: Growing up in the Fifties, How to Get More Humor in your Life, and The Joys of Aging. Talks about the joys of aging don’t usually last more than thirty seconds.

Laverne was nominated for publication in the 2006 edition of Marquis Who’s Who of American Women.

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