I don’t remember what my mother and I were talking about when the story popped into my head, but I do remember it included one of my Grandmother Huffman’s cousins, Frances Courtney. Frances chain smoked cigarettes and did little else except drink diet soda. Her two sisters, Marge the capable and Evelyn the frail, waited on her even though she wasn’t an invalid. Frances’s one redeeming quality was her rapier wit. Delivered in a smoke-strangled voice, she would shoot barbs at her intended target that were both funny and true.
More than her wit, I remember the bizarre way Frances smoked her cigarette. She held it in her first two fingers with the thumbnail of the same hand wedged between her bottom incisors and her bottom lip curled downward as a resting place for her thumb. It was an extremely unusual sight and is difficult to describe. In fact, I believe the cigarette smoldered away in this position more than it was actually smoked.
Imitating Frances’s technique, my mother declared she was going to take up smoking and added the twist of only using her left hand. After we quit laughing, I asked her something like what would she do with her other hand or what was the significance of left-handed smoking. Out of that, my story was born.
Grab your favorite pack of smokes, sit back, and enjoy!