Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cigarettes are a foul, seductive bitch-goddess.

Strange story. When I was a wee child (six or so), my older brother and I were walking to the bus stop on our way to school. On that particular day, a car whizzed by and an occupant flicked their still-burning cigarette out the window. It landed in front of us on the sidewalk.

My brother, being an alpha type of male and ready to prove his courage, picked it up and did his best to monkey our father's smoking behavior. He coughed and coughed and coughed, and turned an odd shade of gray-green. We went on to school.

That afternoon, some adult found me and told me not to worry, but my older brother would not be on the bus home that day. He was ill as all hell, and my parents had taken him home.

When I got home and looked in on him, my brother was the same creepy gray-green color, lying in his bed.

Clearly, these cigarette things were some kind of noxious poison applicator. But strangely enough, I remember thinking... No, that's unclear. I remember knowing that when I grew up I would be a smoker. I had no idea what, precisely, that meant - but I knew I would be that person when I was something that approximated a man.

I do too, Sam.

I held off smoking 'till I was eighteen. I had tried it, sure - but I waited until I was legally intelligent enough to buy a pack before I bought a pack. Legal intelligence does not denote actual intelligence.

About a decade later, I'm desperate to be rid of this awful monkey on my back. It serves no purpose. It grants me no gains.

The first time you smoke a cigarette (or the first time after a long absence), it hits you like a linebacker. You may sweat a little. Your nerves jangle and vibrate like a freight train. It tastes foul as the devil's butt crack, and it's thrilling.

But once you're addicted (which takes all of a day), it's got nothing to do with whatever effect that first cigarette may have had on you. It is, one-hundred-per-cent, about self-medication.

Put simply, you are not you unless you are smoking or have very recently smoked a cigarette. You're tense, ill-tempered - angry at everything for no reason - and no matter what situation you may be in you only have one objective: to get outside, and have a smoke. Cigarettes are definitely a drug, but their only purpose is to treat the withdrawl one suffers when they haven't had a cigarette. It's fucking demonic.

Sexy, ain't it? Shrinks say cigarettes are phallic symbols.

"So quit," is the response (flippantly offered by those who've never smoked). Most ex-smokers will tell you they are still smokers. They just haven't had one in a very long time - but the desire is still there.

Well... I'm trying. I'm trying my ass off, but I seem to be running in circles of suffering. Last fall I managed to quit for a good three months prior to Christmas - and the Holiday Stress whispered to me; "Just buy one pack. You don't even have to smoke more than one. Just buy a pack, have the cigarette you so desperately need right now, and then put the pack away in a drawer somewhere. In a few weeks or months when you need another one, the pack will be there, with twenty-four untouched cigarettes. Heck, at that pace, a pack could last a year and a half."

Seven months and several hundreds of dollars worth of nicotine later, I'm locked in a death-roll with smoking. I'm desperate to be rid of it. I manage to give it up for a day or three or seven, but it whispers to me again. It rationalizes itself. It makes it sound so reasonable to go buy another pack, for that one cigarette I need, but that's never how it works out. And the cycle repeats. Ten or fifteen times at least, lately. It's very unfair to my family.

I'm desperate to be rid of it. I could afford a car (or two) with the amount I've spent on cigarettes over the years. Thousands of dollars, to manage a desperate need that would require no management if I'd just never started in the first place.

I'm going to quit. I need the money, and I hate flushing so much of it into this bloody addiction.

Please. Please, for yourself, for anyone you love or may come to love in the future, don't ever start smoking.

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