Friday, January 25, 2013

The Habit That Kicked Me Before I Kicked It

You might be real tired of hearing about it, but it is about to be Day 34 of my being smoke-free. Every day that I wake up, breathing better, feeling better - and, hell, just not making my sarcoidosis worse - I want to shout and dance like we used to do in church.

The cigarettes and I have a long and entertaining history. Think I'm kidding?

As I was telling +Marla Hughes and +J.D. Hughes last night, there was time when I walked to the store for cigarettes. Not that big of a deal to walk for the smoke, but this was 3 blocks from my job, I was wearing three and a half inch heels, a skirt and it was during the wettest, slip-tricky part of winter breakup. I must have looked like a jones'd-out hooker on my way back to my office, the way I was huffing and sucking on that cigarette...

There was another time that I learned to roll my cigarettes. (It's a sick habit when you are rolling something that isn't really going to mellow you out.) I learned the fine art of cigarette rolling because I had an unreliable husband and lived in the worst neighborhood I ever had. My husband kept the car (when we had one) and might disappear for days. Walking to the store that was down the street was out of the question. Being the slightly siddity, Bougie heifer I am, I was scared to walk to the mailbox without a security detail. Call me what you want, but the first chance I got, I bought a bag of tobacco, some tubes and a rolling machine. (My ex said I even went uppity in that respect. I guess most folks just use rolling papers.)

Like I said, cigarettes had my ass kicked several years before I kicked them. (Listen to me - talking like I've got years under the belt instead of a single month!) I would say that I had a bad thing going, but a friend of mine had it way worse to let her tell it. We worked at the same company but in different departments and, at one point, she had to spend a week on the night shift taking a class I was giving. During breaks, to keep herself alert, she told me stories of her life living and working outside an Indian reservation. I just about died laughing when she told me how she had let herself run out of cigarettes when she was without any transportation but a mule. The nearest, safest place for her to stock up was on the reservation - about six miles away. The funny part was when she demonstrated her riding that mule in dusky light to get to the store or whatever before it was too late. I asked if it was worth it. She said those were the best cigarettes she'd ever smoked in her life. At the time she was telling this to me, she had been smoke-free for about 10 years. 

I have another friend who almost lit her hair on fire. She was tossing a cigarette out of the car window (karma, karma) and it blew back in on her long hair. She damn near killed herself, trying to bat out the fire. 

Another friend got all dolled up for a date - fake hair, fake nails, tits might have been real - and, while lighting a cigarette, set an acrylic nail on fire. Had to dip her finger in her drink. Believe it or not, her and her date have now been married for a lot of years...

The most embarrassing things that have happened to me because of smoking have to do with bad luck, clumsiness and/or drunkenness. I have burned my fingers, burned my lips, and almost torched the front porch... (That last one was bad luck: Outside having a smoke, house phone rang, I dropped lit cigarette into what I thought was a paper cup with water in it. No water in cup. Cup lit up. Smoke alerted neighbor. I felt stupid. Shit, I could have felt homeless.) Once, when extremely drunk (off half a bottle of wine), I tried to put out a cigarette with my foot, forgetting I wasn't wearing shoes. I almost missed an important flight once because I just had to risk that smoke-break during a layover. Try leaving and re-entering Dallas-Ft. Worth airport's security with a twenty-minute window. Go ahead, try it.

Despite all the negatives to smoking, I can honestly say that cigarettes did serve some sort of purpose in my life. It was having a cigarette that saved my ex's life a couple of times. If I hadn't had that few minutes of smoking while I plotted, I might not have talked myself out of his murder. Think about it: no smoking in jail. There were times when the girls were teenagers and never had to find out what it would be like to have the taste slapped out of their mouths, the black beat off their asses or being knocked into a new year. This was all due to the calming influence of tobacco. Now that I think about it, my sister and I raised four kids and helped with another ten or twelve kids. I'm lucky that cigarettes is all I ever smoked. If I could drink, I'd have ended up an alcoholic, but I never get past the third glass of anything... Not to make light of it, but I'm pretty sure that crack was going to be next on my list of addictions.

Peace
--Free
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