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.

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