The first encounter, like most, was a bit rocky. With every breath, my head began to spin a little more, my mind clouded, and my stance became slightly shakier. It was almost like being in love for the first time, your judgment impaired; it’s just you, and him.
His scent was strong; the aroma would linger on me for hours, forcing my parents to question my where-abouts as if I were a 16-year old mischievous teenager.
They called him Sherman for short. He was everything any girl would want, tall, dark, and with an air of mystery. His essence was in how he carried his reputation, rich, smooth, and natural, unlike all the other imposters that have come in his footsteps.
Blessed with a youthful appearance, being 19 at the time made no difference, as I was easily mistaken for a 16 year old everywhere I went. Being over 6 decades ahead of me in sophistication, and elegance, I was unsure if I would be able to handle what came with being associated with Sherman. Yet after a failed relationship with a fellow artist, I felt ready to experience all the richness that awaited me.
Having grabbed $20 from my vintage rooster bank, I went to the first bodega in the proximity of my home. Sold out. Sold out. Sold out. I knew all along that Sherman had gotten around, but I was a bit stunned that it was occurring in my neighborhood as well. With my patience running low, and receiving enough dirty looks from storeowners to last me until my next drunken adventure, I was on the verge of giving up. I was already done, until I passed by and saw him.
“Yes hi, can I get a Sherman please, a Nat Sherman.”
“Ah ha ha, not like that hasn’t happened this whole day…”
Handing over my passport, since my laziness has to this day prevented me from getting a proper identification, he nodded away, and finally handed me my Sherman.
My hands shook, as the feeling of right, and wrong were intertwined. The golden box carried the sophistication, and elegance that I had long heard about. It was like a scene out of The Great Gatsby, or Boardwalk Empire, when the ladies take out their bejeweled, or engraved cases, with rows of cigarettes neatly laying in leather, or velvet; except this was a cardboard box, but can’t a young girl dream.
As I placed it onto my lips, I tried steadying my shaking hands. The first inhale was rocky, as the smoke filled my re-virginized lungs for the first time since I quit marijuana back in 2011. After a few pulls, I began to feel it, the lightness in my mind, the shakiness in my stance; I was at ease. I wondered if that was how drug addicts felt the first time they sniffed, or injected themselves. Finally, I had him.
“My fingertips, and my lips, they burn from the cigarettes…”