Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blow the Smoke Away

Oh, the pain, the suffering. I know cigarettes are disgusting, this I know. Does that stop me from wanting one, hell no. And now I am quitting, again. Not because I want to but because I have to. A nasty surgery that I have finally decided to go ahead with makes this deprivation necessary. Damn it! Curses!

I smoked briefly in my early 20s when I was bartending in California. I loved those leisurely cigarette breaks back when you could smoke while working behind the bar. I would make myself a cup of weak coffee, switch to the Simpsons and enjoy one long, lovely drag after another.

Granted, it was pretty sick that my clothes reeked of cigarette smoke when I got home at night. But it wasn't much worse than my old job at the coffee store when i came home stinking of coffee.

Eventually, after I moved from slinging drinks to VFX, I quit smoking for good. I don't recall it being that hard of a transition because I was never a heavy smoker. Plus, many of my friends stopped smoking around the same time and this made it easier to abstain. Maybe it had something to do with all of us growing up or something?

Still, watching the programmers milling around outside smoking their 10th ciggie of the day and inhaling their 4th can of Jolt, a part of me got a wee bit wistful. I wanted some time outdoors to space out and relax. Fact was, without a cigarette in my hand, I would just look like I was jacking off! Oh, the unfairness of it all!

Still, I stayed a non-smoker for many years. They say your lungs will turn pink again after 7 years without smoking and I made it that long...until I fell off the wagon recently.

There is something about stress that makes smoking inevitable. When the world is falling apart around you, there are many crutches you can reach for: booze, pills, sex, hard drugs or, my personal favorite, nicotine.

What can I say? I needed a little bit of help. Something to look forward to in the morning. Something stronger than my usual cup of tea. Smoking again has been so much fun. I love to smoke in my car with the windows open. I love to smoke on long, luxurious drives and drink in the scenery as whisps of smoke drift out the window.

I love to share cigarettes with people, your fingers touching mid-hand off and bonding you in that special smoking moment. I love to stand outside with strangers who are all smoking, and feel somehow tied to them by our mutual act of sucking and blowing. I love to take little smoke breaks and dawdle around the neighborhood. I love to smoke at night and look at the stars. I love to smoke and chat with my far off friends on my cell phone.

I love the ritual of taking out a cigarette, all long and graceful, securing it in your mouth, lighting the flame to its tip and sucking in its dark cloud of death. I love the fact that every single cigarette shortens my time on this planet. When I smoke, it is like I am embracing death and saying "How dee do." Shit, I love to smoke.

Ah well, quit I must do and quit I will do. I've only been smoking for a couple of months but I can't help but be slightly embarrassed when people I know see me smoking. There is the inevitable sideways glance and then a bit of an under the breath "Tut, tut." Makes me feel like I got caught red handed flashing little kids or something. Christ, they're MY lungs to kill as I see fit, damn it!

Granted, I am old enough to know better. And there is something sort of sad about smoking old people I guess. But the deciding factor was the embarrassment of telling my surgeon that I had been smoking and the horrified look on his face as he listed the litany of problems smoking might cause after surgery. Damn it, time to give up the ghost.

Still, even once I am smoke-free and waiting another 7 years for my lungs to get clean, I will always, always, love cigarettes for the quiet personal time they give me to sort through my thoughts and stand around doing nothing.

A really smart person should figure out something comparable for non-smokers, like a "thought break" or a "cloud watching break." But it would probably never catch on, there is just no substitute for red glowing death on a stick...


Anonymous said...

Oh my God. This blog made me want a cigarette like I have never wanted one before! I'm sure that wasn't your goal when you were writing it (unless, of course, you are secretely funded by Philip Morris), but I have never heard anyone express so perfectly the reasons for smoking.

Anonymous said...

And I don't mean "the reasons why smoking is good," but rather the reasons why people want to smoke (i.e. solitude, momentary peace, etc).

Sorry, I just felt I needed to clarify that. :)

Eva the Deadbeat said...

hee hee, good, i mean, sorry, i mean, thanks!

today is day one of my quitting so we will see if i can manage it without the help of patches and what not. more than anything, my brain wants a cigarette. they say that the physical addiction doesn't come for years but it is the mental addiction that is hard to kick.

my fingers are ansy, they want something to grasp! my brain needs a star gazing break and some fresh air but only an idiot would go outside in this cold UNLESS that idiot was also a smoker!

my brain wants some black death, NOW! i am going to try to take little breaks that are like smoke breaks and see if it is possible. maybe i will even hold a cigarette to give myself the appearance of a smoker taking a smoke break...but will i cave to temptation? only time will tell. man, this sucks.

emilybot said...

Good luck. I cold turkeyed a few years ago, the reward is being able to breathe better afterward. Although when I see people smoke, it's the worst...I have a hard time resisting temptation. :(

Eva the Deadbeat said...

man! can't they make fake ciggies for us non-smoking pussies!? i mean jesus, we can put a man on the moon and we can't come up with something 1/2 as fun as the cigarette?

hee hee, day one and no cigarettes so far, this is if only the screaming in my brain would die down... ;(

the le duo said...

You smokers are just a bunch of wimpy whine-asses. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go drink my 11th PBR of the day.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

awfully early for 11 PBRs! ;) i guess everybody needs a salve to quiet the screaming, but i cannot deny being a wimpy whine-ass.

today is day 2 of no cigarettes and i have been guzzling water and taking lots of deep breaths. there has to be some sort of crutch i can switch to if i have to give this one up? whine, whine...maybe heroine!? that worked out well for sid and nancy...

Tmoore said...

i'm gonna go have a cigarette.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

well la dee da...