When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of challenging the kids generation to not smoke until they turned 21. If the kid won, she would receive $1,000, and if she lost, she’d receive nothing. When my older cousin turned 21 and collected, she described all of the things she bought to me: a new bed, a weekend trip, a ring, maybe something else too. I would have been eleven at the time, and I marveled at how much fit into a thousand dollars.
I remember describing the family bet to a high school classmate. She was a big pothead and I had assumed that she would tell me that it wasn’t worth it. Better to have fun now. She surprised me by saying, “$1,000?! I would totally not smoke in order to collect a thousand dollars. That’s a good deal.” Apparently this didn’t have much impact on me. At nineteen, I abandoned my cash payout for a joint in Amsterdam after diligently not smoking through all of high school. (read more…)