The Day I Didn’t Quit Smoking

A friend told me about a man down in New Hampshire who could hypnotize you to quit smoking. I had been smoking for a few years and this seemed like a good idea. Also, our son Clark had mentioned he wanted to quit, so I called him at Lyndon State, where he was a student, and he said yes he did want to quit, so I made an appointment with the hypnotist for the next Saturday. We agreed to meet at exit 19 or 18, and after some confusion about getting to the right exit, we finally met there. We parked my Camaro in a parking lot near a mom-and-pop store and gas station and both rode to the hypnotist’s in Clark’s old ”winter-beater” Cadillac.

When we got to the hypnotist, it was a simple office set-up with an inner room. I paid $50.00 for both of us and Clark went first. This session lasted about half an hour. Then it was my turn. A darkened room and I began to wonder if the man had to say the same thing over and over, or did he use a tape recorder? So, instead of concentrating on what he was saying, I kept listening for the hiss of the tape being played. I didn’t get hypnotized at all.

After we left, I realized I had just wasted $25.00. Clark said he seemed to have been hypnotized. Anyway we found a place to eat lunch and afterwards drove back to the Camaro. I took the keys out of my purse and was going to unlock the trunk to get my jacket. I inserted the key in the trunk lock, started to turn it and the whole key assembly fell into the trunk, including the keys! I expressed rage and frustration in language “not suitable for a family magazine” and agreed with Clark that maybe we could at least open the car with a coat hanger. He went over to the nearby store to borrow a coat hanger. He was gone quite a while. What’s keeping him, I thought. Finally he returned with a coat hanger and this explanation: he went over to the store and as he opened the door, he looked up and realized a man was robbing the store, pointing a gun at the clerk behind the counter. She was unloading the cash register into a bag he had on the counter. Neither of them saw Clark, who quietly and quickly withdrew. There was a sort of niche next to the door and he was able to hide in there. He couldn’t see the robber and the robber couldn’t see him. He waited, and soon the man came tear-ing by him, ran out and jumped into the car his accomplice had waiting. They roared out of the gas station and disappeared. Clark went into the store and after the clerk calmed down and called the police, she found a coat hanger and Clark returned.
“You could have been killed!” I shrieked. “I know it” said Clark, “but anyway here’s the coat hanger” he said, with a grin. We couldn’t open the trunk with the coat hanger so we fiddled with the door peg, managed to pull it up and opened the car. The only way to get to the trunk was to take the back seat out. After a fierce struggle, Clark managed to get it out and I squeezed in and grabbed the lock and keys.

After all this, we both were a little shook, so we talked for a while and then said good bye. Clark went back up to Lyndon and I headed for Burlington. I hadn’t had a cigarette since the night before, and my nerves were screaming. I pulled over at the Richmond exit and bought a pack of cigarettes. (After all, Clark could have been killed!) I happily started smoking once more. The best part of this story (which happened nearly 40 years ago) was that Clark never smoked again.

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