Still an Addict After All These Years

I’m still addicted to cigarettes even though I haven’t smoked one in over twenty years. Maybe longer. I know the addiction is still there because I often want one.

Years ago, there was a joke in which a guy asked a woman if she smoked after sex. Her answer was, “I never looked.”

The trouble with addictions is this: they get linked to all kinds of things. A lot of people lit a cigarette after sex, when they picked up the telephone, when they sat down to write, when they went out onto the church steps after a funeral, went in a bar, when they got in the car, so all those things (and more) became associated with smoking. And, like post-hypnotic suggestions, all those cues are just as strong now as they were when I quit (finally).

I started smoking in graduate school and started smoking more when I was in the Navy where cigarettes we cheap after the ship got outside U.S. waters (no taxes). We were told, years ago, that quitting smoking was harder than getting off hard drugs. That seemed like BS at the time, so I didn’t believe them. The thing was if we ever ran out of cigarettes, the angst was just as strong as a person on hard drugs who was looking for a fix. That should have told us something.

Having cigarettes on hand at all times was more important than anything else. When I lived in northern Illinois and couldn’t get my car out of the snowy driveway, I walked five blocks for a pack of cigarettes. That should have told me something.

I smoked when I had pneumonia and when I had horrible colds. That should have been a learning experience as well.

Quitting took a long time. Most attempts failed. What worked was smoking lighter-weight cigarettes over a period of time until I was buying brands that were pretty much like inhaling air. Then I got a bad cold, and when the cold went away, I was done with smoking. Basically, I wish smoking wasn’t a bad thing and that second-hand smoke didn’t annoy everyone else or get in my clothes and my hair so that I smell like a campfire. See, smoking is a constant temptation.

Nowadays, relatively few characters in movies and TV shows smoke. So, I find it almost shocking to watch an old movie in which everyone smokes. Those were the days when the guy put two cigarettes in his mouth, lit both of them, and handed one to his best girl. Hell, I remember doing that. I wish I didn’t.

Willie, a character in my Florida Folk Magic Series smokes Kools.  I never liked those–or any other menthol cigarette–but I still feel like lighting up a Marlboro when I write those scenes. My wife, however, is highly allergic to cigarette smoke. That’s all the reason NOT to buy a pack of cigarettes and light one “on special occasions.” I still want to, and that bothers me.

When we were young and thought we would live forever, too much booze and too many cigarettes were an extravagance we thought we could indulge in for a few years and then go back to a “normal life.” We were wrong.

There are still some places where employees go outside the front doors of their offices for smoke breaks. That means customers must walk through a cloud of smoke to go inside. I think smokers should have to stand farther away from the front door. Nonetheless, I still want to ask if I can bum a smoke.

What would I do if I could go back and “do it all over again”? The same thing, I think. Some of us just seem to have addictive personalities. Raleigh brand cigarettes used to have a coupon program, causing many of us to say we were saving up our coupons for an iron lung. Yes, we called cigarettes “cancer sticks.” We knew we were potentially doomed and we didn’t care. Is that crazy, or what?

Malcolm

 

Sunday Shatterings -Stormy, Stevie, CNN, Tropical Fish, &c.

You will be happy to know that I’m running out of relevant titles for posts that rhyme with natterings and clatterings and will soon think up better titles.

I’m wondering today when you lost your innocence. (That’s a rhetorical question.) I don’t necessarily mean in the backseat of a car at a drive-in theater while a Godzilla movie was playing on a screen that was barely visible through the fogged up windows. I’m talking about larger issues.

  • Wikipedia art work.

    Since today is Mother’s Day, perhaps it’s fair to say that my world was shattered when I learned that my mother didn’t know everything. She came up to me one time when I was home for a visit from college and said, “Malcolm, I don’t know why you decided to start smoking.” The world moved. How could she not know? I thought she would know before I knew.

  • Many years earlier, I was reading one of those books most of us hide under the mattress and discovered that people had sex pretty much the same way the tropical fish in my aquariums had sex. Okay, well, it doesn’t usually happen while swimming, but otherwise. . . (I’d been told that God simply sent people a baby when he thought they were ready.)
  • On any given day, many newsworthy events happen. My faith in the news media is shattered when–instead of reporting that news–they’re showing panels of talking, and biased “experts” who are telling us what some news event from weeks ago actually means. Frankly (for example), I don’t care about Stormy Daniels and don’t know why she’s getting so much air time. Okay, of course I know why: ratings.
  • Since I ran out of fresh reading material, I picked up a romance novel that has been on our shelves for 32 years. I don’t know where it came from, but I’d never read it. It’s called Through a Glass Darkly. Everyone in the book is obsessed with sex. How boring is that?!
  • Every issue of AARP Magazine ends with the pictures of five or six well known people who are still attractive, busy and successful in spite of being old. Gosh, Stevie Nicks is 70 and Mich Albom and Michelle Pfeiffer are 60. How do these things happen?
  • In other news, I made a pot roast this week that came out okay, my wife and I mowed the yard, and I am getting near the ending of Lena, the third novel in my Florida Folk Magic Series. CNN didn’t cover any of this because they were still talking about Stormy Daniels.

Malcolm

Dear Hertz, about that smoke-scented car

Dear Hertz,

My answer to this question is "no" since Hertz isn't enforcing the policy by penalizing customers who smoke in the cars.
My answer to this question is “no” since Hertz isn’t enforcing the policy by penalizing customers who smoke in the cars.

About that smoke-scented car from the Baltimore airport we rented on January 20th , it doesn’t really help to try and perfume away the smell left in a car left by the last user who apparently smoked like a chimney in spite of the DON’T THE HELL SMOKE STICKER.

Frankly, we think you should have charged that person more for ruining the car interior for future customers; then you could have given those of us who are allergic to cigarette smoke a debate.

When we rented a “no smoking car” we thought that meant the car wouldn’t smell like smoke. What do you think?

Blizzard rebate?
Blizzard rebate? (Rental car on left.)

On the plus side (health-wise) our allergies didn’t kick in as badly as they usually do because Jonas descended on the greater Baltimore area where we were visiting family and we couldn’t drive the car much at all because: (a) we couldn’t see the road, (b) the cops were giving tickets to people driving in the blizzard, (c) the car was blocked in the parking lot for several days.

Since Baltimore and Washington, D.C. had ample warning about the impending storm of the century, it would have helped if the car had been equipped with studded snow tires and a plough.

Do we get a blizzard rebate?

Just wondering,

Malcolm

P.S. When we asked your desk clerk how to get from the airport’s offsite car rental facility to the Interstate, his directions sent us into a fantasy world with streets nobody’s ever heard of.