If you have ever been around a smoker, and you are a non-smoker, you may have experienced the overwhelming odor of cigarette smoke. It permeates the very fabric of the dwelling, Nothing escapes this stench, and if you stay long enough, it attaches itself to your clothes and hair.
I spent a couple of days cleaning my Dad’s apartment while he was in the hospital. He had been living there for 10 years and smoked two packs a day for most of it. When we cleaned the walls, it was like watching maple syrup running down them. We had to keep the windows and doors open while we did it because the stench was so bad. We cleaned the ceiling and the windows as well. I even cleaned the kitchen cupboards.
We didn’t replace his food. No one ever thinks about the food.
When I was married to my son’s father we would go see his mother every weekend. It wasn’t a long drive, just a few minutes. Once in a while, she would give us a couple of bags of food to take with us. It would usually be something like a few boxes of cake mix, cornbread mixes, and packages of pasta. Sometimes she would throw in cans of tuna. We always thanked her and took them home.
I tried making a cake from one of the cake mixes. Made a lovely devil’s food cake, topped it with white icing because that’s my husband favorite.
I couldn’t eat it. All I could taste was cigarettes. He tried to eat some and said it tasted like the bottom of an ashtray. The pasta didn’t seem to suffer as much damage, especially if you drained it afterward and rinsed it. But the cake mix, biscuit mix, and corn muffin mix all tasted ashy.
When we ate at her home, we never noticed it. We never noticed the smell when we went to her house, and she smoked as much as my father did. It might be because we spent so much time with her that we didn’t notice it. Or because we both occasionally smoked, and we hung around with other people who smoked.
Funny thing, we sometimes took the bags of food down to a friend of mine who had a lot of kids but not a lot of money. She was also a chain smoker. Her family never noticed the cigarette taste at all.