By Joe Rector

Young folks have always faced plenty of temptations in life. They are things that help individuals to live and choose and learn. Sure, not having to face temptations would make existence easier, but without them, persons don’t have the chance to mature and strengthen themselves into the solid individuals that they become. I won’t advocate for any person to fall prey to these temptations, but I acknowledge that most people will at some time in their lives experiment with them.

Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the most common tempting agents were tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. For many of us, the third one was too expensive, and we didn’t have any idea where to get the stuff if we had wanted to. Also, some of us were so afraid of being imprisoned for smoking weed that we chose to stick  with other things.

Lest anyone forget, cigarettes are things that stimulate. Nicotine acts as both a stimulant and depressant. Anyone who’s tried smoking quickly discovers that it is “an acquired” habit. The first few puffs from a cigarette provide a hit that quickly enters the body and makes the person dizzy-headed and nauseated. Only with practice can a teen become a good smoker who inhales smoked filled with all sort of nasty stuff that will lead to a variety of health issues. In only a short time, however, a smoker is hooked and becomes a slave to nicotine, so much so that he can go only short periods of time before having to have a smoke break.

Back in the last century, many of us smoked. I don’t know why we started, other than to look cool, but we did. I rarely ate lunch in high school. Instead, I bought a 30-cent pack of Winstons and filled my lungs instead of my stomach. The smoking pit was a rough place sometimes, but that didn’t cause us hardcore smokers to avoid it. Even in the rain, we dashed there between classes to get a couple of hits from a smoke.

Beer was another big temptation for us back then. Schlitz, Budweiser, and Miller were around. However, we had limited funds and looked for bargain beer. For us Pabst Blue Ribbon, PBR, fell within our budget. We’d pool our money, buy a case, and put it in the trunk. Many were the nights that friends spent sipping on lukewarm cans of beer while sitting at the drive-in movie. We drank, looked over at cars with fogged windows, and wished that we, too, could spend time with a date instead of a beer.

At some point that I don’t quite remember, some of us became wine connoisseurs. Our attention turned from drinking the swill that always bloated us and eventually had us “howling at the moon.” Our mature and discriminating tastes turned to those blends that pleased the palate. Yes, friends, I’m talking about none other than Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill. Oh, other flavors, such as Apple Blossom and Mellon Ball might have been available, but we wine snobs chose what we considered the original, and it only cost about a dollar and a half.

My first encounter, and my last, with that wine came as I sat in the backseat of a Ford Fairlane at the Twin Aire Drive-In Movie that was located on the property where the Clinton Highway Walmart now sits. As I watched “Alice’s Restaurant,” I sipped from the bottle with a screw-on lid, and before long, it was empty. I made it through the first half of bottle two before experiencing a life-altering event.

The world around me began to spin. Waves of nausea rushed over me. The rest of the evening found me yacking up my stomach, liver and small intestine. The next day I awoke with a headache that must paralyzed me. Not until the following day did I have enough energy to do anything but lie around.

The wine adventure ended my alcohol consumption and lasted throughout my college years. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but I had no desire to ever be that sick again. Today, I might drink a beer with a meal, but I’ve forever sworn off wine…of any kind. I learned my lessons and have done away with the temptations of smoking and becoming inebriated. I sure don’t miss the spinning bed and a hacking cough that came with those cheap temptations.