Muffy Kicks the Habit
"I'm suckin' on a smoke in a fevered fit
It's been ten long days since my recent quit
I know I'm weak for doin' it, but it's already lit..."
-From "Hypnotherapy" c.1997
It was three years ago, I wanted to quit smoking, hypnosis failed, so I went "cold turkey." After all, that's the most admirable way to kick the addiction. Ask a few proud ex-smokers and chances are you'll hear the crusty war stories. "I smoked FIVE packs a day. I had a cigarette in one hand while I washed my hair in the shower. I lit another while I was blow-drying. I smoked in bed, during sex.... there wasn't a minute I didn't have a cigarette in my mouth...." This is part of an unsolicited monologue I was lucky enough to be subjected to recently. I hear it all the time, though. Only the names, brands and number of packs change. He continued on, "And I'm talkin' Pall Malls - no filter, girl!"
Okay, here's the pause where you have to say something. Although I usually hear "WHO GIVES A CRAP!" in my head, the diplomatic me instead politely asks "Wow, how'd ya quit?!"
This variety of ex-addict invariably gets seriously focused at this point, acts wise, looks you dead in the eye, shakes the head slowly, and says... "I just quit. Went cold turkey. Put 'em down one day and never picked one up again."
While a smoker's reasons for quitting may vary, there are those who claim they will never quit. It is their right as a human and U.S. citizen. These are the folks who aggressively inform you that a cigarette will have to be removed from the stiff, closed fist of said-smoker's rotting corpse. This conviction, I believe, is not one to be reckoned with.
Okay. I, Muffy, quit smoking. I didn't go cold turkey. I'd heard tell of a 30 year/ 3 pack a day-er who came clean by using the patch. Sounded reasonable to me, so I tried it and succeeded this time. It's been over a month, and I feel like I'm in the clear. I hesitate to talk about it much, though, for fear of repercussions. From both sides. See, when you're a smoker, most non-smokers really bug you, wondering why you'd do that to yourself, why you don't just put it down, etc. The worst is when an idiot actually removes the cigarette from your mouth and throws it, all because he/she loves you. (To perform the cigarette removal act could be grounds for assault, in case you didn't know). Now that I no longer smoke, I kinda want to cash in on all the lectures I've received. Like, where's the kudos? My non-smoking antagonists have moved on to other causes - I'm useless to them. I mean, they can say, "Yeah, way to go!" and that's the end of it. It doesn't come close to matching the passion projected while expressing shock over my habit. Heck, they don't even know what strength it takes to drop this 4000-additive addiction. Wusses!
It's kind of like going to Denny's on your birthday. It's a one-time deal, and I want my free meal!
The other side consists of my former people, the smokers. You have to be careful what you say if you want to hang with this side. It's easy to offend a phlegm-filled friend, for several reasons. The main one is that many smokers feel guilty already, without having it rubbed in. Although they rarely admit this, it's undeniably true. Furthermore, they are keen to perceive any form of potentially self-righteous behavior.
After finishing a gig at Steinert's, in New Albany, I sat down with some friends to have a beer. Now, some of the changes that take place when you quit smoking involve your senses, especially taste and smell.
For example, I have alienated more than one friend with my newly found super-powers by detecting mildew, cat urine and other odors in their homes.
So I was sipping my beer and realized it tasted different. Good different or bad different? Neither, I remarked, just different - more "beer-y." My (smoker) friend Linda studied me closely and quickly, then spouted out, "Come on, let's go run two miles! Right now! I can race you and not even work up a sweat!"
Frustrated, I looked at her like she was crazy, thinking I might want to race her, as tired as I was. She continued with her ranting, my recent quit being the catalyst, until a carefully selected change of topic shut her up.
Several things are different these days. I can breathe a lot deeper. I don't have to worry about the inconvenience of finding smoking areas, or paying three bucks a pack. I can eat a Pop-tart, a large oatmeal raisin cookie and an entire fruit küchen, all in one sitting.
Jody Foster once said that quitting smoking was the most difficult / important thing she ever did.
Sad thing is, it makes me hard pressed to come up with a comparable goal, after having achieved this one so early in life.
Guess I'll go for a Grammy now.
Have fun! (heart) Muffy
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