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Andrea Langworthy's column: No 'smelly grandma'

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I used to start every new year with a list of resolutions. Now, I don’t even bother. Because I’m short on willpower? Or because my vices are all behind me? You be the judge.

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A television commercial recently got me thinking about this. A pitch aimed at smokers, it touted the benefits of a patch to help kick the habit. The ad took me back to the year I quit smoking for good. Nineteen ninety-three. The first day of October.

I would have gladly stalled, resolved to do it in 1994, but I couldn’t put it off. You see, my first grandchild was due before the end of the year. I wanted to be smoke-free for the arrival. The other grandma didn’t smoke and I had no desire to be dubbed “Smelly Grandma.”

It wasn’t the first time I had vowed to give up the filthy habit. In fact, whenever there’s a stop-smoking ad on TV, it isn’t my final attempt that comes to mind but my first. The one in 1980.

My then-husband and I had moved into our new house just a few months before — a four-bedroom, split entry home on the west side of Bloomington. We had new carpeting, new paint, new appliances, new everything. “We should quit smoking to keep it all nice,” I said. “Make it part of our resolutions for the coming year.” I was surprised when he agreed.

Our Christmas present to our children that year was a trip to a ski resort in northern Minnesota. We would arrive the day before New Year’s Eve and drive home on the first. We told the kids of our plan to cease smoking and they were excited.

After dinner on New Year’s Eve, we went back to our room to watch television. Just before the stroke of midnight, the four of us squeezed into the bathroom. The children dumped the remaining cigarettes into the toilet. We waved good-bye and someone pulled the handle.

The next day, I, a non-skier, read my book while the rest of my family skied. That afternoon, we packed up the car and headed towards home. Half-way there, we stopped to eat at a roadside café. I don’t remember the conversation but knowing my rah-rah personality, I’m sure I went on and on about not missing the silly ciggie-poos. I may have expressed dismay at the foul odor of the ashtray in a nearby booth, too.

What I do remember is the closer we got to home, the crabbier my husband got. By the time he turned the key in the lock of our front door, his demeanor was as dark as the evening sky. He and I continued the argument that had started in the car. He left in a huff. Purportedly to pick up groceries.

There was no place to drive to in west Bloomington back then. Especially, at night on a holiday. Tom Thumb was open, though. In a half-hour, he was home. Puffing away and apologizing.

My resolve lasted a year-and-a-half. I reminded him of it every chance I got. Not a good idea if there is a possibility you might pick up the smelly habit again, however. Then it was his turn to rub it in.

The good news is, neither of us smokes now. The better news will be that this column inspired even one person to quit. No stalling now. You can do it. Rah-rah-rah!

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