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I resolve to ... do what I’m doing

I’ve made my New Year’s resolution and I’m making it public for all to see.


As the year progresses, don’t be afraid to hold me to it. In fact, I welcome your snarky and judgmental comments as a means of keeping my feet to the fire.


Speaking of fire, my resolution deals with combustion, of a sort. You see, I am resolving not to light up during the year 2024.


Light up, as in smoking. That includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes or any form of ingesting smoke into the respiratory system.


I know what you’re thinking, especially if you know me personally. “Larry, how can you make a New Year’s resolution to not do something you’re already not doing?”


I’ll have to admit, my resolution appears to be a slam dunk. I can just continue doing what I’m already doing, right?


So why make a resolution when you know the outcome? you ask.


I’m buying into the school of thought that we should make resolutions we feel we have a better than 50 percent chance of fulfilling. Then we can feel good about ourselves.


On the other hand, I could resolve to lose 20 pounds this year. Then next December I would feel like a loser for not losing.


But hey, it’s not like I never smoked before. As a boy of 10 or 12, I did have a go at puffing weeds.


Alert! If you’re reading this in the company of children, let them go back to texting on their phones. They’ll love you for it and they won’t hear what I’m about to say.


Is the coast clear? Kids out of earshot?


OK, as I said, I tried smoking as a boy. It was an activity that was forbidden in my family, so I had to go underground for what I considered an experiment.


I found used cigarette butts beside the road by our house. I chose the longest ones I could find.


OK, I can hear the gagging in the background. But hear me out.


I was a Little League baseball player at the time and hydration was a big deal with our team. That’s why we had the water bucket in the dugout and everyone drank from it using the same dipper.


So what’s the big deal with used cigarette butts? You’ve heard of the five-second rule that’s used when a piece of food falls on the floor? Pick it up within five seconds and it’s not tainted.


With the cigarette butts, I embraced the five-day rule. If it’s been on the ground for five days, it’s lost its owner’s saliva.


Anyway, I gathered a handful of butts, borrowed matches that we used to burn trash, and found a secluded location where I was sure no smoke signals could be seen. I opted for the longest butt and lit it.


My first puffs went no further than my throat. But I knew a real smoker breathed the fumes into the lungs.


My attempt at breathing the smoke hurt my lungs, producing irritated coughing. I tried a few more times before wondering what anyone saw in smoking.


That wasn’t the only time I smoked. One year my parents bought me a burp gun, which could shoot perforated roll caps that simulated the sound of gunshots while emitting a puff of smoke.


My burp gun could be loaded with a roll of about 50 caps and fired individually or rapid fire. After a round of rapid fire, smoke would pour from the muzzle.


One day I was firing my burp gun, enjoying the sound and smell. Noticing the smoke coming out, I put the muzzle in my mouth and inhaled. I repeated that after every burst of burp gun fire.


After about five minutes of “smoking,” I began to notice a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. That queasy feeling grew to full-grown nausea. I needed fresh air and I needed it NOW!


I don’t recall seeing any cautionary statements on the burp gun box advising shooters to refrain from inhaling the smoke. It was the 1950s, after all.


But from that day forward, I knew.


So, to review: I resolve during the year of 2024 not to indulge in smoking. That includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes and burp guns.


Especially burp guns.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.