Thou Shalt Not

So you were bad. Everyone is bad. It’s how they learn to be good. In this room you begin to explore the moral universe, telling some stories about learning to be good. You will tell some stories about yourself, about how you were bad (maybe some stories you’ve never told before). And you’ll tell some stories about other people. Looking back, you might ask yourself, Now why did I do that? Or maybe you know exactly why.

Start with a memorable event. You broke a rule. You knowingly did something you were not supposed to do.

“Where did you get the cigarettes?” my dad asked.

It was an ongoing battle when I was a kid. I wanted to smoke. I thought it was cool. You couldn’t watch 10 minutes of television without seeing a commercial that glamorized smoking. “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.” “Salem, take a puff, it’s springtime.” “Chesterfield 101, a silly millimeter longer.” He had smoked. Sitting in the front room at night, he puffed away on a Camel. Between puffs, the cigarette rested in a ashtray, a trail of rich blue smoke rising luxuriously from the burning tip. It was endlessly fascinating.

We smoked down by the river, sitting next to the hollow tree. Me and Danny Leman, Ronnie Fritz and Dean Gaul,