Hookah Neuroses


Last night, as Mr. B was busy engaging in a nerfest of epic proportions, I took some time to unwind and prepare for the week ahead by lighting my hookah that we bought in Israel for the first time in our new house.

My rule was, no technology, no distractions, just relaxation.

This is NOT illegal. Not yet.

Smoking the hookah is relaxing for me because it reminds me of being in Tel Aviv on the beach, smoking, eating watermelon in the sand, laughing, and the Mediterranean lapping quietly in the distance under the moon.

Except, our next-door neighbor is Catholic and her kids are in the local Catholic school. So, as soon as I brought out the hookah and lit the coal, I realized it probably was not a good idea to be smoking where kids could see it and ask, “Mommy, why is that lady going straight to hell?”

And then I thought about the 2005 WHO study that means I am definitely going to get at least three different diseases from smoking.

And then I thought that I would burn down our newly-stained deck when a stray ash somehow landed on it and sparked a house-wide fire. Would Mr. B be able to evacuate our third floor in time?

I ran all these options through my head while I smoked, the crickets chirping and the sky quiet, the dusk growing stronger and a gentle summer breeze picking up. I put my feet up on another chair and leaned back, hearing the waves all over again.  The first of the lightning bugs glowed faintly in the distance and the charcoal grew red, then black, glowering, flickering comfortably. I prodded it with the tongs and inhaled the sticky-sweet smell of apple blossoms.

It wasn’t so bad, after all.

That’s when I decided I’d relaxed enough, and I was ready to clean up and head to bed.  I put out the coal and went inside to clean the hookah. That’s when I checked the clock.  Seven minutes.  I relaxed for seven minutes.  Then I went upstairs to read the WHO report.