We were meeting for the first time. He was smoking. He must have noticed how I noticed he was smoking.
“Cigarettes bother you?” he asked.
I shrugged. I’m not a prude. I smoked a lot of different things a long time ago.
“C’mon,” he said. “That’s no kind of answer.”
I thought for a moment. I considered how I’d feel about his smoking in a year, after all the pleasantry and niceties of our initial meeting had worn off.
“What?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “I suppose it’s kind of annoying.”
“Well, at least you’re honest,” he said.
Then he kept right on smoking.
“You’re not gonna do me the favor of putting out the smoke?” I asked.
“I already done you a favor,” he said. “One’s enough, seeing how we’ve just met.”
“And what favor’s that?” I asked.
“I let you to be honest without me being an asshole in return. I let you speak the truth without making you feel like a son of a bitch. And I ain’t even gonna suggest that you might be in the wrong for being annoyed with my cigarette.”
I paused to think a little bit more.
“What now?” he asked.
“I guess you’re right,” I said. “Thanks.”
“Okay,” he said.
And even though the smoke was annoying, it felt like the first time in a long time I’d finally gotten off on the right foot with somebody.