Friday, July 09, 2004

The burning pine needles looked like fiber-optic silkworms.  The chopped wood was a teepee, sheltering the flames from rain, wind or any of nature’s destructive ploys.  We lit our cigars and inhaled slowly, little by little, watching the ash conquer and the paper lining retreat.  Several relatives putting together a puzzle in the living room complained they could smell cigar smoke.  “Puzzle people,” my father muttered.  I chuckled.  So we left the yard and smoked on the end of the pier, my father and I.  The lake was our ashtray.  They were sweet cigars with white mini-holders that looked like whistles.  I tried blowing it once, expecting a shrill note in reply.  No dice.  I felt rebellious and justified all at once.  It’s probably this cabin.  We’ve been coming here since I was five.  It’s an annoying, split existence: childhood and adulthood uncomfortably squished together like a messy s’more.  You don’t know whether to eat it or say “screw it” and chock it in the woods.  But the cigars, I know that was a screw-it-and-chock-it-in-the-woods moment.  Because my mom said to my dad, “Dan, you’re encouraging our son to smoke cigars?”  And that did it right there.  If she hadn’t raised a raucous, I wouldn’t have felt the need to do it.  But she did, so I did: when they came out to say they could smell cigar smoke I snapped, “We’re outside!  The windows are closed!  What more do you want?”  Like a crabby World War II veteran.  But I’m not that old.  And I’m not that young.  I’m somewhere ambiguously in between.  I can always count on this damn cabin to remind me of that.

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