Opinion » The Rant

The Rant

In which Tim ponders the difficulties encountered in trying to quit smoking ...



I am extremely hesitant to write about this because a) I may end up being unsuccessful with it; b) it is really only my business, and I don't want anyone asking me about it; c) I can't imagine anyone really giving a crap about it; d) just writing about it without even mentioning it yet is making me want to do it; and e) putting it in black and white means I probably ought to really do it.

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I'm talking about giving up smoking cigarettes. There, I said it. Well, technically, I wrote it. There seems to be a difference. As I mentioned, seeing it in black and white to be out there in the world permanently is much different than just mentioning it to someone — and then sneaking off to smoke one.

So, I have been at this for the better part of a month now. I should probably mention that I am 54 and have been smoking since the ninth grade. Heavily. Like, in-the-shower smoking. In fact, my parents made me go to a private Baptist school in the ninth grade, and I almost got kicked out for smoking. Well, that, and regularly disrupting the religion class by asking the teacher to prove what he was saying happened back when Jesus was around. (Oh, I must stop and comment on the new film Son of God. It is not usually my modus operandi to trash a movie I haven't seen yet, but would someone please tell the morons in Hollywood that the historical Jesus figure everyone talks about was a Jew from Israel and not a British guy with a personal trainer and perfect white teeth? How can anyone take seriously a movie about Jesus in which he sounds like Sir John Gielgud? And this particular Jesus is being played by a Latin actor, and it still looks like they gave him blond highlights in his perfectly quaffed flowing locks.)

But I digress. I think I did that intentionally because admitting in the public domain that I am trying to kick a 40-year cigarette smoking habit is a bit daunting. In fact, I just got up to go smoke one but forced myself to sit back down. So if you are a smoker and you're even thinking about quitting, here is what you can expect, at least based on what I have experienced and continue to experience. I hope this doesn't last forever.

First of all, it all depends on how you quit. Some people put down the smokes, quit cold turkey, and that's the end of it. I hope they get captured behind enemy lines and tortured. I decided to taper off, thereby not going into total shock immediately. I began to cut back drastically. The first thing that happens is you suddently hate everyone you know, including those you love, and you hate everything everyone says and does, and you even hate people you don't know.

Everything looks filthy. The sky, the ground, your house, the streets, the mountains and oceans and flowers, and even pristine tropical paradises. It ALL looks gross and filthy. You want to scrub everything in site, but instead you go to bed, cover your eyes, and hallucinate while you think about how much you hate everyone.

After a couple of days, food starts to taste really good and you start thinking that it may not be as tough as you had anticipated — until your body does go into shock and you become violently ill with every kind of respiratory problem you should have had before you cut back drastically. You become so sick that you can't taste anything, and every type of food you look at seems filthy and prepared by someone you hate. So you call your doctor's office and tell them that you're kicking the habit after all these years, but you've become very sick from it. You can see them rolling their eyes through the telephone because you know they're thinking that it's just an excuse to stop trying to quit and you hate them for not understanding and realizing that you, their patient, is bruising ribs from coughing so hard because quitting has made you sicker than smoking. You want to go there and throw some filthy food at them that you can't taste and tell them how much you hate them.

Then you start bartering with yourself. You think, okay, let's see if I can just make this a morning, noon, and night habit. Smoke one cigarette mid-morning to keep from killing someone, one after lunch because it's the thing to do, and then one at night after you've gone almost an entire day with just two cigarettes instead of two packs. That works pretty well for a while, especially during the work week, but then the weekend comes and you aren't working and you have to fill your time somehow - time usually spent smoking. Grrrr. Weekends could take years to conquer.

The worst part though is that you've told several friends you're quitting, and you could go five years without a cigarette and never see them and the one time you break down and smoke one, they show up like a venereal disease and see you smoking or smell you after you've just smoked the first one in forever and they get that look on their face and say, "Oh, I thought you quit smoking."

That's when you tell them what you've really thought about them all these years. And then you smoke another one.

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