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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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by Ron Cruger
rcruger@san.rr.com
Learning to grow up
         Go ahead, take it. Take it. Thats it. Now put it in your mouth and take a puff. Thats it. Now take another one. Deep. Inhale it deep. Now take another one. Good, now one more. Now another one. Now, just one more.
          Then I threw up!

          This was how my father introduced me to the perils of smoking cigarettes. His plan was that if I took enough puffs of his unfiltered Camel cigarette I would get sick to my stomach and develop an aversion to cancer sticks.
          It worked. The lesson was learned.
          Dad used the same method to teach me the dangers of drinking.
          It was Christmas day of my eighteenth year. My uncle and my father were celebrating the day by having a couple of shots of whiskey. I watched them with admiration as both of my favorite men took their shot glasses and drained them briskly. I had never tasted whiskey (or any other liquor for that matter). My dad rarely drank, my uncle even less.
          My dad put his arm around my shoulder and said, Son, its time you did what men do. He filled a shot glass with Jim Beam and handed it to me. He took one for himself and handed another to my uncle. Down the hatch, he said.
          I wasnt prepared for the harsh, stinging solvent that burned from my lips to my intestines.
          My dad said, Here, son, have another one. Not feeling any effect from the first shot I took the second drink and gulped it down. The same burning sensation shocked me.
          The Jim Beam still had no effect not yet.
          My dad and my uncle watched me closely. My uncle said, Youre doing well, big boy, nice going. Today you are a man.
          My dad reached out and handed me a third Jim Beam shot. I was feeling a tad happy by then, so I sloshed down the shot. By now the burning had subsided. I patted my father on his back, walked to my uncle and did the same. Thanks, men, that wasnt too bad. I could have another one.
          Dad took a couple of steps towards me and said, Son, I think youve had enough.
          But, dad, Im really fine. I can handle it. No problem.
          I then took one step towards my uncle and fell flat on my face on the lawn. Everything started spinning. I held on to a clump of grass so I wouldnt fall into the abyss that was nearby.
          Then I threw up!
          I dont remember much after that. My father and my uncle explained later that they had dragged me from my spot on the lawn into the house and to my bedroom to sleep it off.

          Then I threw up again!
          The point of all of this is that my family was interested and involved in enlightening me of the dangers that lay in wait as I matured. They didnt leave it to my peers to teach me about the hazards that come with growing up and approaching adulthood. My mother, father, uncle and grandmother took it upon themselves to educate me in the ways of the world.
          Perhaps, if more parents would become actively involved with their childrens education we would have less crime, less lost children, less murderous street gangs, less drug abuse, less unbalanced and unhinged adults.
          It may be that my family took the brash and bold course road to educate me in the ways of drink and smoking, but the lesson was strong and well-intentioned. I got the message and it has stayed with me all the days of my life.
          My stomach still churns when I think of those Camels and Jim Beam.