The Shortest Resolution Ever
By Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe
Still full of the enthusiasm of youth that allowed us to play practical jokes like college kids, but mature enough to know we had the responsibility of good jobs, homes, and children that needed us. We worked hard, and we partied just as hard at times. In the 1970’s thoughts of RRSPs were not a concern, but our worries about good childcare and mortgages filled our conversations. Our party times were playful, full of laughter, and most often, full of lots of cigarette and cigar smoke. In those days the majority of us smoked. But I had a husband who, even in those days, despised smoking, the smell of smoke, and the filth of ashtrays. He had been known to screw ashtrays in cars tightly shut, but he discovered much to his chagrin that you can’t stop a smoker that way. So, for the few who did not smoke, they were stuck in rooms full of second-hand smoke, regardless where we met as a group. Smoking was in, and at a party smoking was extreme. The prevailing attitude was “if it feels good do it!”
Oh, yes, life was good!
“OK,” said my husband. “If there is no smoking there will be no need for ashtrays!” He then collected every ashtray he could find and threw those in the fire as well. No big loss, all dollar store items and the occasional souvenir, so they would not be missed, and certainly if no one was smoking they would not be needed. And that was that, a group of non-smokers entered 1978 with a firm resolve that smoking is bad, smoking hurts and they had quit, once and for always. The party carried on, the laughter and music was great, as I went to prepare food. The group settled down and talked about the past year, their plans for the New Year and all seemed to be on an even keel; that is until about ten minutes into the New Year.
Returning to the room around the ten-minute mark after midnight, I saw half a dozen grown men and women on their hands and knees with a poker, furiously trying to rescue an ashtray from the burning fire of the stove. The resolution had met with disaster when a friend lit a cigarette out of a pack she had in her purse. She never said she had quit she announced, and with that the rest of the quitters turned into withdrawal freaks who were obsessed with getting a cigarette. They would literally go through fire for a dime store ashtray. One ashtray was rescued, the woman passed the cigarettes around and everyone made the remark that they would start their resolution at noon on January first, later that day. The air turned blue again, the huffing and puffing continued and when the package of cigarettes was finished they all decided to call it a night.
Most of our group were health professionals, such as nurses, doctors, and pharmacists. We saw the effects of smoking every day. But still it took a long time for the message to reach our dumb brains that “Smoking Kills.” Now we look back in dismay at the photos taken then, all of us holding a cigarette, or cigar, feeling very invincible and totally “cool,” and realise the photos make us look ridiculous.
It had to be the shortest resolution ever made and kept! Professional people, knowledgeable health care providers, down on their hands and knees poking an ashtray from a glowing wood stove fire. Such was the power of the cigarette. Thank heavens now we have moved on, and we are fighting the battle of the chocolate and cholesterol high foods, and those resolutions about we have to keep, because now we are older, somewhat wiser and we know that if we make those short resolutions that last just ten minutes, we will truly pay with out lives!
No “butts”’ about it, we get too soon old and too late smart!