Sprinklings of Insanity

Have you ever watched in horror as someone repeatedly makes bad decisions? You think to yourself, “They must have learned from that,” yet there is always a next time. There are a few people in my life like that. Some eventually did turn things around. Others aren’t quite there yet. I’m not sure where this story fits.

Growing up in the American public school system, one of the greatest evils I was warned against was smoking. I still remember the pictures in my health textbook showing red healthy lungs next to black diseased lungs. There were stickers, comic books, and videos warning of the danger. Since no one in my immediate family, or even circle of friends, smoked around me, it was never a great temptation. As far as I can remember, no one ever tried to peer pressure me into trying a cigarette.

In more recent years, I’ve realized that smoking is not a great evil. It’s an addiction, and a dangerous one, but the people who smoke are mostly victims, not villains. I’ve made friends with a few smokers, and try to avoid flinching at the smell of ash when I’m around them. I actually like the smell of tobacco, just not when it’s on fire. One area where I do draw the line, though, is allowing them to smoke inside the house, as that would be an imposition on our non-smoking guests.

Our house guest was not a smoker when she moved in a month ago. Old habits die hard, though, and as the stress of her divorce got under her skin, the cigarettes returned. Aware that smoking inside the house was not allowed, she would escape to her car, where she rapidly burned through a cigarette and returned to the house reeking of smoke.

My nose isn’t that sensitive. Even when I know to pay attention for a smell, I still sometimes miss it. Kelly is just the opposite, and being in the first trimester of her pregnancy has made her sense of smell around ten times more sensitive. She would walk around the house and tell me exactly what our house guest had touched after one of her smoke breaks. A bit of quick research suggested that this “third hand smoke” during pregnancy was linked to lung development issues. It was not a startling find, but it was enough to make it clear something needed to be done.

When confronted with the difficulties caused by her new habit, our guest revealed that she actually had electronic cigarettes (which don’t burn into toxic ash), but chose not to use them. She agreed to upgrade her addiction, and, for the moment, that particular hiccup seems resolved.

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