I quit smoking cigarettes. Again. I have successfully made it through the first day.
Naturally, I want to punch a newborn baby in its adorable face. I won’t do that though because I’m very anti-baby punching. I’ve always been that way. Personally, I don’t even think you should slap a baby, let alone punch one. I know that might not be a popular opinion, but I don’t care. That’s just how I was raised.
I feel like it though. I would slap the shit out of a hypothetical baby if it crawled up to me right now, all “goo goo, gaa gaa” and shit. I would look this fictitious baby dead in the eyes and say, “Listen to me, fake baby. I’m irritated right now. Why don’t you go bug someone else with your infectious laughter and wild-eyed wonderment?” A baby, of course, does not have the cognitive capacity to engage in conversation with me, so I’d get mad at his silence and hit him. You know, to teach him. Obviously it’s a him, because I would never hit a non-existent baby girl in her face, even if she instigated the confrontation. Not even in self-defense would I punch a defenseless imaginary baby lady. I’m a special kind of gentleman.
So the quitting smoking thing is kind of a big ol’ bitch bastard though. I have been a smoker on and off for about 30 years. I started at 12 or 13, and have smoked for 3 years, quit for 2 years, smoked for 4 years, quit for 3 years, etc. It’s a vicious cycle.
I remember being six or seven years old and stealing one of my fathers cigarettes. He was in the kitchen, probably making a highball, and his pack of Kools were in the living room. I don’t remember what made me decide take one out of the pack. I had probably just watched a movie or tv show that had some cool people smoking butts. Or maybe the Marlboro Man made me do it. But whatever the reason, I did it. I rushed over to the unattended cigarettes and removed two from the pack, because obviously one wouldn’t be enough. All the while I was listening for Dad’s footsteps to come shuffling back into the room and catch me red-handed. I successfully pulled off the heist and absconded out the back door. With my purloined cancer sticks safely tucked into the pockets of my corduroy, I hastily beat feet into the woods.
I was pretty excited to start being a cooler boy, so I struck a match and lit the smoke. I took far too big of a drag, and instead of inhaling it, I swallowed it. I’m not sure if you’ve ever swallowed smoke, but it is fucking painful. I remember coughing and gagging and feeling like my eyes were going to fall out of my head. This went on for only about forever. After I stopped crying and heaving like a baby girl that I would never punch in the face, I broke both cigarettes and swore to God I would never smoke again. Sorry God. I walked back into my house and my mother started yelling at me about “OH, YOU WANT TO BE A SMOKER?!?!” She handed me the rest of my fathers cigarettes and made me sit on the front stairs of our house and smoke them. So the neighbors could see how cool I was. Like Fonzie, if Fonzie smoked. I got violently ill after that.
I didn’t try smoking again until after my mother passed away. I was around twelve. That magical age where you think you’re a teenager, but you really aren’t. So you do things that make you seem older. Like smoking or drinking or doing sex on other people or opening a checking account. Most of those things, anyways. Back then a kid could still walk into a store and buy cigarettes. All you had to do was say they were for your mother or father. Or you could just buy them from a cigarette machine. Remember those? Oh, dear sweet cigarette machine, what has become of thee? Outlawed for your convenient deliciousness, you have disappeared from the public eye, but you’ll be forever in my heart. And parts of my lungs and esophagus and trachea.
Smoking was encouraged in those days. You could even smoke in the waiting room at the hospital. Inside the fucking hospital!! They will hit you with a taser if you did that shit today. Seriously, go to your local hospital, sit down in the waiting room, and light up a cigarette. Notice all the looks of horror aimed directly at you. Listen to the people shouting at you. The vicious name calling. What you are doing is not acceptable in a civilized society. But it used to be.
When I was 13 my father found a cigarette filter in the pocket of my jeans while he was doing laundry. He confronted me with the evidence of my transgression. I don’t remember exactly what my defense was, but I think it went something like, “The older boys held me down and beat me up and stuffed pre-smoked cigarettes into my pockets.” I find it’s always best to blame things on the older boys, because no one wants to mess with them.
“Oh, the older boys did it? Well, let’s just forget about it and change the subject to an unrelated matter, then” would be the anticipated reaction.
But Dad wasn’t scared of the older boys, and eventually he got me to confess that I had been smoking. The surprising thing is that he didn’t flip out. He actually gave me permission to smoke. I was pretty freaked out about by it. I thought it was a trap where I would light up a smoke and he would smack me in the back of the head. But it wasn’t. He told me he had started smoking young, and he always wanted to have a cool kid for a son. I think I waited for two or three months after that talk before I smoked in front of him. But once I did, it became second nature. Smoking in the house like a fucking madman. I’m pretty sure if my mother was still alive she wouldn’t have approved.
I should have been out on the front steps smoking cigarettes for the whole world to see.
Like that Fonzarelli boy.