I get it a lot. Maybe a lot of you do, too. That obnoxious whiny, nasal, earsplitting bitch that says:

"You just smoke coz you think it's cool, right? You know it's gonna kill you."

But I have a ringer.

I just say (coz it's true):

"Well, actually, when I started smoking I was trying to kill myself."

That usually shuts the bitch in question up pretty well. I prefer to leave this statement open-ended, ambiguous; I enjoy watching the bitch squirm, wondering if I'm fucking with her (interestingly, it has only ever been females that have run into this situation with me), or not. No one has yet found a good response to this. If she does, however, ask about the circumstances of my time as a suicidal teenager, I give her this certified and guaranteed conversation killer (also true):

My first cigarette coincided exactly with the last living day of Rachel Elizabeth Fie, my then-girlfiend. She was 16. She was hit by a Blazer while coming home from school. She was in a coma for four days, and the day they pulled the plug, I walked out of the hospital and bummed my first smoke. Now I love it. Sure, I'm addicted, but at least I'm not slicing arteries anymore, yes?


However, while being suicidal is not at all funny, the circumstances of my first cigarette are rather more humorous. This is what I never tell people, because if I did they'd stop taking me seriously.


I left the ICU at the hospital where they had just announced that Rachel was dead. She had had extensive brain damage, a pulverized spine, and was not predicted to ever wake up. They did (in my opinion) the only humane thing: they pulled the plug. I walked outside and sat on a bench. I guess I looked pretty messed up (being that I had been pretty much living at the hospital for four days and not sleeping much), because some janitor guy on his break came over to me and asked me if I was okay.

"Do you smoke?" I asked him.

"Er... well, yes... yes I do," he replied.

"Can I have one?"

"Well, you don't look eighteen. Are you eighteen?"

"No, I'm not. I've never even had a smoke before. But my girlfriend just died and I'm feeling like destroying something. Might as well be me."

He gave me a cigarette. It was a Camel Filter. I took one pull and thought I was going to die right there on the hospital bench. I've never coughed so much in my life. The janitor guy laughed so hard he started crying, then when he went to wipe his eyes, he knocked his cigarette's cherry all over his face. He started swatting and cursing at his face, and then I started laughing so hard I dropped my cigarette and burned a big hole in the crotch of my pants. So there we were, both laughing and coughing and making a giant mess out of ourselves, when my dead girlfriend's mom comes out the door of the hospital and, in shock, yells,

"Bruce! I didn't know you smoked!!"

I said, "I didn't until just now. This is my first one!"

She looked at me, then at the janitor. We both suddenly realized that we'd been laughing hysterically at a time when nothing should have been funny. Then Rachel's mom said,

"Give me a drag."

I've been smoking ever since.