Farewell to Butts
by J. Elvis Weinstein
As I sit here writing this,
I haven't had a cigarette for 20 days. This is not a personal record,
I once quit for six weeks and then inexplicably started again. Maybe
now I'm mature enough to have developed the one element missing
from my previous attempts at quitting - a shred of will power. They
say you have to really want to quit if you're going to succeed.
If that's the case, I'm screwed. This is an intellectual decision,
not an emotional one. In my heart, I really like the little guys
-- the way they line up dutifully in their little packs, just waiting
for their chance to give me a moment of pleasure in this otherwise
harsh and cold world. It's my cursed brain that interferes in our
relationship with it's insipid "medical facts" and gibberish
about my family's future.
They say smoking is as
hard to quit as heroin, I don't know about that - it's a lot easier
to want to quit heroin. There's usually a "bottom"
to help you out. When you wake up naked laying in a pool of your
own vomit in an abandoned warehouse...you know it's time for a change.
I'm taking the medication
Zyban to help me quit. I'm not sure if it's helping or not. I haven't
smoked but I sure wanted to. Either way, I like the symbolism of
taking a "quit smoking pill", it makes it feel like I'm
treating an illness instead of a weakness. Zyban is actually the
anti-depressant Wellbutrin with a different brand name. The smoking
cessation properties of the drug were discovered accidentally. That's
fairly common in the world of drug development - Viagra was initially
developed as a blood pressure medication until they discovered it's
other "magical" properties. They made the right decision
on which way to go - it would have been difficult to push a blood
pressure medication whose side effects include "raging boner".
(NOTE: Normally I would have had about three cigarettes by this
point in writing this).
Unlike when I started,
I am not bowing to social pressure by quitting. In fact, my natural
instinct would be to keep smoking purely out of spite to all those
self-righteous preachers and passive aggressive fake coughers who
tried to interfere with my habit, my pleasure. I was always a polite
smoker, keeping my fumes out of others' faces. More than happy to
go outside. I loved having the automatic ticket out of just about
every room in America. Bad parties, long meetings, family gatherings,
religious services - I like being able to take frequent breaks from
these things and after all these years I'm used to it. That's my
pace. Now what am I going to do, pretend I have diarrhea all the
time? I don't think so. Perhaps one day I'll be powerful enough
to make everybody shut up for five minutes every half hour or so.
(NOTE: I'm starting to
gnash my teeth and twitch a little from spending all this time thinking
about smoking, perhaps this essay was a bad idea. Must...press...on.)
I've done some of the
math associated with my habit and the numbers are staggering. Two
packs a day for a year equals 14,600 cigarettes annually. That's
the equivalent of one, 3650 foot cigarette - a third of which is
filter, (a 1200 foot filter has to offer some protection, doesn't
it?). At an average of $3.50 a pack here in California, that's $2,555
a year. I haven't gone back to adjust for the much lower prices
that existed when I started but suffice it to say I've basically
smoked a fully loaded S.U.V. in my life.
Maybe I need to just commit
completely to the cause - become one of those reformed smoker zealots,
completely alienate myself from all my still-smoking friends. Perfect
my little cough - "a-heh - a-heh" and disapproving look,
or ...maybe I could just have one. Get a boat to go with that S.U.V.