We made Mom actually “kick the habit” of smoking cigarettes back in the mid-1970s when those American Lung Association commercials aired showing people jumping in the air and clicking their heels together like The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. She did it after getting out of my grandmother’s beige Mercedes – circa 1960 model – and walking into her parents’ Warwick, Rhode Island home. She actually jumped, though I had never seen her feet leave the ground at the same time, and it looked to Jim and me like she clicked her heels. She was smoking again in a day or two. She also didn’t quit after Jim and I immersed a carton of her Virginia Slims in a sink full of water and then proceeded to put it back in the drawer where she kept them, which happened also to be where she kept her underwear and lingerie.
When she finally quit, after two sessions of acupressure, and when I was flying to Madrid in 1990 and speaking with some Spaniards at JFK airport about my family, I said, “Mi mama paro a fumar pabo frio.” (I thought I was saying, “My mother stopped smoking cold turkey.”)
They looked at me somewhat horrified and then laughed. I always thought it was because the phrase “cold turkey” was not idiomatic for them, and they thought I was speaking literally.
Recently, I used an online language translator (Babel Fish) and this literal translation was given: “My breast unemployment to smoke pabo cold.”
It’s amazing they let me board the plane.