-It has come to my attention via email, that many high school aged children frequent this website. How these little scamps came to find this page is unbeknownst to me, but I think it is time that I wrote something especially for them" well, at least some of them. I'm sure with all the great writing on this site you youngsters have already gleaned quite a bit of guidance and advice for living as a healthy, successful college student. But that is all in the future; let's focus on the present.

-It was about ten years ago that I climbed up into my tree-fort with my cousin Nathan (see "support my cousin" issue). Excitedly he pulled a pack of Marlboro Light Menthols from his pocket and offered me one. I took a tentative drag, filled my cheeks with smoke, and blew out. "You're doing it wrong, Streeter. You have to suck in and then suck in again." He said. I did as I was instructed and the cool, minty smoke filled my lungs. My head spun with delight and, ten years later, I still have not stopped (I did switch to Parliament Lights though, like any self-respecting person should).

-Now, being that I was 11 when I started smoking, I had to play it off for my parents for many years. I came home smelling like smoke everyday and everyday I needed a new excuse. I imagine that over the seven year period where I had to lie about it, I came up with about 10,000 excuses. For you high school kids driving around with cologne in the car and a change of clothes, I present the best of my excuses. All of these have been successfully tested on my parents; so if my parents ever catch you, you'll have a good excuse. (the excuses have been broken down into two categories: the first is excuses if your parents find cigarettes on you or see you holding one, the second is if you smell like smoke.)

-Caught Red Handed:

-You come home and Mom is holding your smokes in her hand which she just found in your bedroom. Shit! What do you do? The first thing you must do is act relieved and say something like, "Oh God, there they are. Where did you find those? (insert name of friend) has been looking for those forever. He must have left them here." If Mom's not buying it, elaborate a little more. "Yeah, his older brother told him to hang on to them for him, you can call him if you want." We all know Mom isn't going to call your friend and ask, so finish off with, "Well, they aren't mine, I don't care if you throw them away." You'll be in the clear.

-If your Mom finds a half smoked pack, try this excuse. "Mom, I bought this pack of cigarettes because I wanted to smoke. But then I realized how foolish I had been and I threw half of the pack away. I kept the other half in my sock drawer to remind me of how dumb I had been." It won't explain all the porn in your sock drawer, but at least you'll be off the hook for the smokes.

-Uh Oh, Dad just saw you hanging out with your friends and you were holding a cigarette. He's definitely going to approach you on this one. Usually one of your friends will spot him walking over and alert you to his presence. The best way to handle this is to play it cool. Just say, "Hey Dad, what's up?" like it's no big deal. When he asks about the cigarette in your hand, act surprised and go, "oh heck, I forgot, I was holding this for (insert friend's name). Have you seen them? They've been gone for a while." If your Dad has any bit of a brain, he'll never buy it, but it's worth a shot because that's your best hope when you're caught with a cowboy killer in your hand.

-A variation on this last one, which should only be used in emergencies, is to make up an extremely elaborate story which will bore him to the point where he no longer cares. Here is an excerpt from one such rant I engaged in once. "Yeah, there was this guy over by the fire house, and he came over and asked if I smoked and I said no because it kills you, but then he was like good, I can trust you to hold this cigarette while I make a phone call and he gave it to me and he went over to the supermarket and he hasn't been back yet.

-Stung by the Stench

-Smelling like smoke isn't necessarily a bad thing; sometimes it will make you seem dignified and refined. However, when you're 13 and you smell like it, it isn't nearly as impressive. If you happen to be a high school smoker hiding it from Mom and Dad, chances are you will be asked about your overpowering stench on more than one occasion.

-Before we begin with the excuses, may I suggest getting an after school job at a place where smoking is permitted. I worked at a deli run be a Dutch expatriate who sucked down about 4 packs a day so I always had an excuse. If there aren't any Dutch refugees running high class delis in your area, try these great excuses when you reek of tobacco.

-First, try to single out a friend of yours that your parents don't like to begin with. Then, casually mention the fact that they smoke at dinner one night. You can use this poor, unknowing wretch of a friend as your permanent scapegoat from now on. He'll wonder why your parents give him dirty looks, never invite him over, and warn him about the danger he is putting himself and others in, but, at the same time, you'll never have to worry about that smell again; no harm, no foul.

-If you are one of those nice people that refuses to blame all your bad traits on a friend, then try one of these patented excuses. I smell like smoke because"
1. There was a burning truck full of cigarettes and I tried to save the driver but the smoke was too thick.
2.Some guy at the fair was blowing smoke on me and making fun of grandpa; he was mean.
3. I bought a new air freshener for my car and I thought it was called pine tree, but it was really called cigarette smoke, but I already paid for it, so I'm gonna leave it in.
4. It was the dog.
5. Some older kids beat me up and made me smoke a cigarette and said I liked boys and I was crying.
6. I went to Burger King and instead of giving me fries, they gave me a big bucket of flaming tobacco on accident.
7. My doctor said that smoke might help my abnormal heart arrhythmia.
8. I saw some celebrities doing it and you know how bad I want to be famous.
9. I went up in the tree fort with Nathan and he was smoking.
And finally, the piece de resistance (for all you French Canadians out there),

-I hope all of you high schoolers have found these excuses useful and enlightening. And, by the way, if you need me to buy you cigarettes, I'll be hanging down at the gas station in my '87 Camero, looking at your girlfriend and talking about how she doesn't even know the things I'd do to her. Good luck and happy smoking.