Nuts and Smokes: The Art of Quitting

“Obnoxious, self-righteous slugs aren’t they? I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think I’d become one of them.”

  • Bill Hicks

I hate ex-smokers. Not in the way you hate you worst childhood bully or Kim Jong Un. In the way that you just can’t stand being around your born-again Christian friend or that guy who has a cliché for every situation. I just can’t stand them.

To be clear, I don’t mean I hate non-smokers, though a few of them I can do without too. When I was a reporter, the city council was debating a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants and there was this clown that milled around outside the city council meeting with this doll in a carrier and cigarette butts all around the doll. I guess as some sort of statement that smokers just weren’t getting the point that their habit was bothersome to others and was putting hapless babies at risk of asphyxiating right there on the table. I hope that guy got lung cancer from all the exhaust he inhaled on the street on the way to the meeting. But most non-smokers are pretty cool people I guess. They put up with the smell and the ever-present haze of tan I bring with me everywhere I go. They’re cordial about the fact that they can’t stand what I do and blow off the cloud of smoke I just inadvertently coughed in their face.

No, I mean the people who smoked adamantly up until about a year or two ago and suddenly, because they have seen the light, and now feel the need to give you disapproving looks as they look in from the car next to you or give you the stink eye as they are walking into the Target or Walmart.

Can you tell yet I’m trying to quit? Makes you a little edgy. Thing is, though, it’s not so much not being able to smoke that puts you on edge. It’s the looming reality of the craving that really digs into your nerves. Knowing its coming. Being absolutely certain of the impending, colossal annoyance of the nic fit. And the thing about it is, even the craving itself isn’t the worst part. It’s that lull that comes after when you calm down a little, you relax, your heart resumes a healthy beat and you feel like celebrating living out another little storm like that by … smoking. That’s the part that really, really sucks.

I’ve armed myself with a whole arsenal of assistance and aids. Nicotine gum and lozenges, butterscotches and Blow-Pops and regular gum. I even have a Blue e-cig for those long dark nights ahead (yes, I am one of those smokers who wakes up and smokes and goes back to bed. Judge me. I’ll stab you) And I think the most valuable weapon I have is American Spirit organic cigarettes. And yes, I went online and they are no safer than the Wildhorses I usually smoke or the Marlboro Lights my Da leaves for me (incidentally Da, if you are reading this, stop dropping off nearly full packs of cowboy killers at my house. I see my neurotic hatred of seeing any food go to waste spilling over into the smokes you leave for me since you “quit” 7 years ago [Incidentally, Chantix is some bullshit too] and I’ll never be able to quit in the name of conservation. Go give them to homeless people or teenagers). But the American Spirits burn slower than the Wildhorses and don’t have as many of the some 700 carcinogens or whatever the number is that are in the rest of the pack. And since they burn slower, I usually only smoke about ¼ to 1/3 before I realize that 1) I now feel weak and stupid 2) I’m now enjoying a heartrate akin to most hummingbirds and pimple-faced adolescent boys on a date and 3) it’s going to be another couple hours at least before I get to enjoy the cravings all over again, then the glorious, light-hearted feeling of more energy and self-respect that, having given up booze 2+ years ago, I can only celebrate by … you get the idea.

My cousin once told me that the best part about quitting is the freedom you feel. Having only been at this for about a week or so, I know exactly what she meant. I look forward to the freedom from the obsession, the freedom from shame and ostracization. The freedom from the poverty. Wish me luck.

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