9.20.2007

Living without cigarettes


I've smoked since I was 13, started with Camel nonfiltered. They were really nasty. A person had to work hard to keep smoking after the first one. One cigarette should have been enough and would have been if not for the "gang." I hung out with a slightly tough crowd, not the really mean, really tough bunch. My friends might ditch school occasionally, might drink beer on the weekends, but they weren't bad kids. I don't think they even would have hassled me if I'd chosen not to smoke, but I wanted to fit in, I wanted to be like them...they were cool, Fonzie-cool.
Last week I celebrated my 59th birthday and realized how incredibly stupid it is to continue doing something I hate and that makes me ashamed. I had quit about 5 years ago and managed to go without smoking for 9 months. It was so easy to start right back into it; maybe I had just the slightest twinge of guilt and embarrassment, but that wasn't as important as having another cigarette. If you've never smoked a cigarette, or if you tried it and didn't stick with it long enough to become addicted, you cannot know how awful it is to be a slave to cigarettes, how horrible it feels to have to check your pockets before leaving the house because you can't leave without that pack of smokes, how disgusting it is to have that smell on your clothes all the time, how hard it is to enjoy kissing when you know you taste worse than garbage, how ridiculous it is to keep putting poison in your mouth hour after hour. You cannot know. And you cannot make someone stop by telling them these things.