I can tell you when I had my first cigarette. And where and with who ( or should that be whom? what’s the rule? if I reverse the sentenceā€¦ oh, who cares šŸ˜‰ ). I was 12. With my friend Cindy. And we were hiding under the back wooden stairs of the church next to Reservoir Avenue School. I’m 64 now. So 52 years smoking. Yeah, yeah, I know it is bad for me but I never expected to see thirty, much less sixty-four, so I really don’t care.

Now I’m gonna tell you a story about a condominium complex in Riverside, Rhode Island. Or the projects, as I’ve always called it, but now it’s starting to really be. Okay, I admit I’m more comfortable living in the back of beyond, where my neighbors in every direction are at least several acres away, but now even people who chose to live in such close quarters are finding the situation intolerable. Because our joint living situation isn’t working out so well anymore. First it was the structural situation. We can’t use our decks. Structurally unsound. Our decks are pretty much the feature that make these shoeboxes we live in tolerable. And for those of us who have lived here more than a few years, this is the second time this has happened. That I’m aware of, come to think of it, I should check that out. But we cannot use our decks this summer. I had been in the middle of shopping for new furniture for the deck when this happened. I mean I am on the first floor so I won’t come crashing downā€¦ oh wait, you may crash down on me. So. We can’t use our decks this summer. But it gets better. We have to tape these yellow warning signs on the slider door that goes out to the deck. In our HOME, telling us not to go out on the deck. And if our signs are not displayed, they WILL be inspecting, we will be fined. This is somehow sounding familiarā€¦ it will come to meā€¦ Anyway, that was problem number one. Oh, yeah, and in a pandemic when that is a great way to be socially distanced from everybody yet still in the fresh air and able to shout out across to the neighbors on other decks way far out of harm’s way. Great timing. Keep in mind, this is your home. Which you bought. And are kind of stuck with. Because even if you want to sell it, there are these unsound decks and the big yellow sign to remind you, and any potential buyer, lest you forget.

So if this isn’t enough, a few cranks got together to ban smoking. INSIDE YOUR FUCKING HOME WHICH IN MOST CASES HERE, YOU OWN. Theoretically, apparently. Not only are they proposing that you cannot smoke in your home, you can not go out and smoke on your deck. You know, the deck you can’t use now but someday in the future that won’t be this summer, you can’t smoke on it outside in the open air. You can’t smoke outside the building. You can’t smoke in the parking lot. You cannot smoke anywhere on the grounds of the complex. Someday in the future, it is possible, they might find a designated smoking area. Might. Outside in New England they might have an area set up where you can go out in below freezing weather during a blizzard and have a cigarette.

But there is more. Of course there is. This isn’t just about cigarettes. There have been people smoking cigarettes here since the place was built back in 1972. This is about marijuana. It is legal in Rhode Island for card carrying medical patients. Of which I am one. And it is about to become legal for recreational use. It isn’t the smell of cigarettes they don’t like, it is the smell of marijuana. Now someone must have told them they can’t do that to medical card holders in their residence. So they have said you can’t smoke marijuana but if you have a medical card, you can vape it. This is sort of like saying we don’t want you to take pills but we will let your doctor prescribe a daily shot for you. In other words, they are determining how I take my medicine that my doctor has prescribed for me. I don’t like to vape. There are multiple ways to vape. One of the ways are these cartridges with an oil in them. I worked it out and that would cost me more. I can barely afford this now but spending the same amount as I do now with “flower”, using these oil vape cartridges would leave me days I could not get my medicine. Now you can also vape flower, dried herb vaporizers. Guess what. Smells just like when you smoke. These people are idiots.Ā 

One of the cranks in here is my neighbor. He only moved in recently. I came home one day to find a draft protector left outside my door with a note. Something about a neighborly gesture, just a little gift to keep the cold drafts out. His nibs and I had a good laugh as we knew this wasn’t to keep drafts out; we have to go through three doors, two hallways, and only then are we outdoors. Where the drafts are. This was clearly to keep the smell of marijuana in. A poor attempt. Poorly thought out as the door has three other cracks through which the smell can seep. Which in a way brings us back to the decks and the poor construction. The fact the place is poorly constructed makes these places have all sorts of smells seeping out. For example, I am assaulted daily with the smell of the cooking that comes from my neighboring crank’s condominium. I mean they cook a lot and the smell is strong. Really, really strong. I would venture to say it is stronger than the smell of my marijuana. Should we ban cooking here in the complex? I mean it is all about offensive smell and I find that smell very offensive.

I would not start a petition to get enough signatures to get a change in the bylaws of the condominium that would ban cooking. Because I am not an asshole. Like the cranks who started this whole smoking ban thing. I respect the fact that this is a complex full of a diversity (144 units) of people but that once they shut the door on that rectangular approximately 1000 square feet plus unusable deck, they are inside their HOME. Their castle so to speak. Where it is their right to do as they please as long as it is not illegal. I promise, for example, that I will not be setting up a meth lab.

Now this has to be voted on. I think it takes 67% for it to pass. I could be wrong about that number but it is over fifty percent. Tempers are running high. Some smart people, who don’t even smoke are against it because they recognize if this is allowed to happen, the cranks will soon have something else they don’t like. Smokers such as myself realize you can’t stop smoking in a day because a rule has changed. Smoking is more addictive than heroin. Go ahead, Google it. You can’t go from smoking on Sunday, after over fifty years, and quit cold turkey on Monday because a rule changed. And the really smart people are against it because they realize this is going to hurt their property value. Who wants to buy a place with unsafe decks and an authoritarian regime that dictates how you live your life in the privacy of your own home?

I’m gonna go have a smoke now. Look at housing prices in less authoritarian places than America.

Published by Kate Eileen Shannon

Artist, Crafter, Writer, purveyor of ephemera and bagatelle

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