Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will somebody please tell me why I smoke these damn things?

OK, been watching Mad Men — intriguing enough to sample for a bit, we’ll see how it goes — and I’m looking at all those smoky offices, smoky bars, smoky bathrooms, smoky cars, smoky elevators, preschools, confessional booths, what have you, and I’m remembering how back in the day in NYC we’d come home from barhopping or shooting pool and just REEK, and have to take 4:00 a.m. showers just to even consider crawling into our nice clean beds, and how every time you’d blow your nose it’d be all black, and how much your throat would hurt, and I’m thinking, thank GOD I don’t smoke!

And it’s not that I’m so righteous and willfully clean livin. I mean, I’m all for people’s right to engage in a lawful activity … I doubt I’d attend a Million Smokers March, or anything, but the Righteous Clean Livin folk have kind of gotten out of hand, sometimes to the point where I'd like to buy a carton and light all 200 right in their faces.

But so why don’t I smoke?

Partly, it’s choice — I grew up with two pack-plus-a-day smokers, and though my mom quit for good the summer I graduated from college (THAT was a fun summer, I tell you whut), my dad never did quit, and if you saw the way he died, at age 51, you’d probably be less than inclined to take up the habit yourself, know what I mean? There’s nothing glamorous or fun or interesting about the way a long-term smoker coughs in the morning, and even if you are lucky enough to avoid cancer, you’re still fucking up your body unnecessarily — that is, of course, your choice (says she who looooves her booze and may or may not have enjoyed other types of substance-based refreshment in the past), but so you can see why my choice is not to.

But partly, it’s pure dumb luck — I sorta tried to take up cigs in high school and college, and it just never took with me. In HS, it was mostly trying to have something to do at parties that didn’t make me look like the goody-two-shoes overachiever that I was; pre-drinking, I’d light up a cig, because those were easy to get, and hey, they were at least a little bit psychoactive so you weren’t 100% Sober Sister. And my friends N. and D. and I would drive to Denton, hit this smoke shop across from the Flying Tomato, and buy cloves (eeeeeeeeeegh) and Lucky Strikes (shout out to all my homies who felt that Pump Up the Volume really SPOKE to them, man — and if this is you, I will bet cash American that you are a female between the ages of 29 and 35). And in college, I’d buy Rothmans, these Xpensive English ciggies to which I was introduced by my friend V., suave guy and lover of all things James Bond/cloak-and-dagger, whom Mr. Gleemonex and I have not heard from since 1999 and whom we strongly suspect of being a CIA spook, for real. I’d light up at bars, cause why not, and occasionally try to use them as a diet aid … but they, like all other smokes I’d ever tried, tasted so incredibly fucking horrible and did such weird unpleasant things to my head (sort of a lead-balloon feeling), that I just never did it enough to become addicted, and I think the last one I ever actually smoked was sometime during junior year of college. So, you?

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Blogger Patrick said...

I'm only 31 and I've been smoking full-time for exactly 20 years last month. I have to quit this month if I want the Army to pay for my $20,000 jaw surgery. Since you can't fool doctors and couldn't afford this procedure out-of-pocket, I'm looking at a very unpleasant month. I tell all my younger siblings not to smoke (tobacco), but when they light up I can't help but feel (deep inside) that they are cooler than I thought.

So, as usual, I am conflicted about this.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Gleemonex said...

Damn, Patrick -- that's rough. I've seen quitting up close, which looked like it sucked hardcore, and I've seen what happens when you don't, which ... well, sucks worse. I'm glad you do have a way to pay for the surgery, even though it's going to be hard on you -- sincere best wishes for the quitting and the surgery.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Guinness74 said...

I have had at least two family members move on from the effects of smoking. I can say that watching someone gasp for their last breath is not in the least appealing.

I never smoked myself because I'm a singer and it was hard enough for my mother to accept the fact that I had the occasional beer...much less that I had taken to sucking poison into my lungs. I never understood all the ballet dancers who smoked though...seems as though they would need that lung power.

5:46 AM  
Blogger bgirl said...

so this new drug comes out and suddenly my husband (hard core nic addict), my stepmom (smoker of 40 YEARS) and my dad (two-pack a day for forever) are all doing a great job quitting. I'm frickin amazed by this. my smoking story very closely mimics yours, Glee - I couldn't get addicted, which is strange. (But to this day, if offered, I couldn't resiste a drag off of a clove cigarette, headache be damned.)

9:11 AM  

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