|There's a cigarette in Grandpa's right hand.|
While I am, personally, very anti-smoking, I am not sure I want my president to struggle with the stresses of battling a nicotine addiction while in the oval office. I want him to kick back, put up his feet and take a phone call from Vladimir Putin without the distraction of jonesing for a smoke, don't you? Whether he needs a glass of wine, a Three Stooges marathon or a cigarette (or, perhaps, all three simultaneously), I want the leader of the free-world to do what's necessary--within legal limits-- to successfully chillax at the end of a long day.
I grew up in a house with a very dominant smoker. My grandfather carried a standing ashtray around with him and held a cigarette like the macho European male he was---four fingers on top, thumb on bottom. When I was very young, I don't think I ever saw him without a cigarette and used to love to please him by emptying his ashtray or locating a fresh book of matches. He limited his smoking to the living room and the front stoop but when his sisters and brothers would visit for a raucous game of Hungarian cards (and lots and lots...and lots of yelling), the smoke around the heavy wooden table was so thick that I could barely see them through the haze. My eyes tear and my lungs seize up now just remembering it. I decided at an early age that smoking was not for me.
At 65, my grandfather was told that he should quit because his heart was starting to be affected by his since-the-age of-thirteen habit. He came home from the doctor, finished the last unfiltered Camel in the pack, put down his ashtray and never smoked again. Hungarians, you see, are very stubborn--we'll steal your horses, exit a revolving door first despite having entered behind you, and in the case of my grandfather, quit smoking very abruptly. He lived to be 92.
I became very frightened when, for a while in high school, my son Tom picked up the habit. I began a daily stealth routine of rifling through his pockets and mutilating anything I found connected to tobacco. For emphasis, I snapped the cigarettes in two before burying everything in the garbage and barricading myself in a closet until the yelling (we're a very loud family) stopped.
I chafe at the cavalcade of new intrusive laws that want to limit and criminalize acts that, although destructive--ex. a bag of peanut M&Ms for breakfast--should be ours to freely make. All bets, however, are off when it comes to tobacco because I don't think that industry ever plays fair. Case in point, ammonia is now added to cigarettes to aid the brain's absorption of nicotine--so you become addicted more quickly. Not fair.
However, if anyone needs an outlet, it's the president of the United States. So, smoke on, President Obama. I'll even share my breakfast M&Ms with you if you need a little sugar with that smoke.