The sky was blue, the grass an exceptional shade of green and the birds were chirping. As I walked down the quaint, small-town street, I was convinced that the day was going to be perfect.
That is, of course, until I saw a sight that had the power to make a rock cry: across the street, a father held his son, who appeared to be no more than three years old. The father was sporting a lit cigarette, whose hazardous smoke blew into the new lungs of the innocent child. Yet, the appalling scenery did not stop there. In the small fingers of the child’s delicate hand was his very own (unlit) cancer-stick.
Impersonating his chimney of a father, he brought the cigarette up to his lips time after time – to the enjoyment of his smiling Daddy, and to my sheer horror.
“Do you see that?” I had to ask my friends in order to make sure I was not hallucinating. After an ample amount of time passed, I thought it was safe to assume I was not some pawn on one of those minorly funny “Candid Camera” TV shows.
My friends, very reasonable beings as far as I’m concerned, shared my surprise. I’m sure that they too saw the future of this sprightly tot paved with Marlboros, leather skin and a voice that channels a digressing Nick Nolte.
The father remained laughing and encouraging his boy, as the youth smiled, pleased that he could so easily make his role model proud. If only my own father posessed that same joyful look when he caught me enjoying my first (very glamorous – or so I thought) Virginia Slim. I was tempted to rush to the toddler and replace his tar-tampered toy with a Tonka Truck, a stuffed animal, gosh, even a controversial pacifier. The possibility of a lifetime of dental problems is minute in the face of charred lungs and an oxygen tank.
My intention is not to attack smokers. In fact, I enjoy lighting up from time to time in order to take the “edge” off (of what, I don’t know). Although, when I smoke, I am consciously choosing to endanger my life. Hell, it even adds a bit of adventure to my routine. How many packs can I smoke before developing a cough? Which hand sanitizer is most effective in camouflaging the scent of the cigarette ash after my mid-day puff?
I know the consequences. An action that is too often executed in haste or the burden of homework, bad life decisions and such. However, I doubt that the boy I saw had been well-versed in the dangers accompanying his fatal “toy.” Nor would he understand terms such as emphysema, bronchitis or cancer.
I guess the moral of this sad tale is just to be courteous while indulging in a cigarette. Get a feel for the crowd, and perhaps relocate if standing upwind from an infant or other helpless humans.