Saturday, April 16, 2011


cough! cough!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, How bad can it be if Einstein did it and Sherlock Holmes did it? Intelligent and logical, right?

I did it for forty years.  I know about smoking.  It was wonderful.  I really enjoyed chemistry in high school.  Most of the chemicals I dealt with in high school were in the Lucky Strikes I was smoking.

How did it all get started?  It was easy. It all started during my sophomore year of high school.  The "In crowd" would go to a hangout that was just off school property.  I wanted to be part of the "In crowd".
We will call this place "Scottie's" to protect the guilty. This is where I went for lunch.  I had a choice of eating in the school cafeteria, which served awful stuff like  Shepard's Pie,  Lasagna, Beef Stew, Chicken Stew, Baked Tuna Casserole for 15 cents (milk included) or go to Scottie's and have a tasty bag of Wise potato chips and an absolutely delicious bottle  of Pepsi.  A no brainer. I went to Scottie's with the rest of my friends. (Yum..yum!!)

Scottie's was not a big place.  It had 3 or 4 booths, a bench, and about 6 stools.  The place was built to hold about 20 or 25 people max. At lunch time it had about 50.  There were two shifts of about 50 people.  If a fire marshall had walked into the place he would have had a stroke.  Everybody was smoking and putting out their cigarettes on the floor.   It looked like a mosh pit.  The owner had an orange tree in the window.  It gave nicotine flavored oranges.  In this environment I started to smoke, actively and passively.

Cough! cough!
My friend Andy would steal cigarettes from his grandfather, his father, his mother, anyone that had cigarettes.  I would  "bum" cigarettes from him and others after they got me hooked.  One day Andy growled at me, " Why don't you buy your own cigarettes?" Ironic?
He was yet to buy his own first pack.  I pointed out this discrepancy in his logic.  This actually gave him a chuckle.  We decided to split cost so we both could smoke.

When you start out smoking tobacco you tend to experiment a little.  You start to be pretentious. I started smoking a pipe, a nice curved briar pipe.  I purchased some nice smelly pipe tobacco.  The old guys would smoke things like Mechanic's Delight, Half and Half, or Prince Albert, of "Do you have Prince Albert in a can? well let him out" fame.
The younger pipe enthusiasts like myself smoked Borkum Riff, Mixture 79 (or was it formula 44) or other exotic mixtures.
I was very pretentious about the whole thing. I would act like pseudo-intellectuals.
People would ask me a question and I would puff on my briar thoughtfully, not immediately answering their question. I would slowly start to talk, then suddenly stop, take the pipe out of our mouth, look at it, then I would either relight it or clean the pipe.
Then I would say, "Now what was your question?"  But the questioner would be long gone.

I was quite arrogant and boorish.  I would sit on some steps near the school, puffing my briar with a book in my hand.  Maybe it would be War and Peace.  People would walk by and I would say something foolish like, "It's about Russia."  Most of the time people would just mumble some obscenity.

I even tried cigars. A few big stogies, a few rum crooks, a few White Owls. This grew old rather quickly and I went back to cigarettes.

I enjoyed cigarettes for many years.  I loved coffee and a cigarette.  I loved cigarettes when I was drinking beer.  Delicious combinations.  These combos were like...bread and butter, cheese and crackers.  These things were meant for each other. Cigarettes were pervasive in my life and it seemed like it was pervasive in everyone else's life.  At some point it started to control my life.  I realized there was a problem.

My life started to revolve around cigarettes.  Everything else was secondary.  I had to do a cigarette count before I went to bed at night. It was just not an option to wake up and have no cigarettes in my smokey filled life.  Their had to be a plan.  I could not be without access to tobacco.  The thought of running out of cigarettes made me edgy and nervous, almost paranoid. The thought of it would make me perspire profusely.

Then something bad happened.  At least I thought it was bad but it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.  I injured myself at work and it would require surgery.  It was a hernia. I would be in and out the same day.
All went well,  I would stay at my parents house for a couple of days and recuperate.  I could still walk. The pain killers had not worn off and I waddled to my sister's house which was very close.  I was having a good old time.  I drank some coffee, ate some fried food, had some more coffee.  I felt like I was ready for a cigarette.  I lit one up.

Five minutes later my sister and brother in law were dragging me up the street to my parents' house in a semiconscious stupor.  I was put in bed and I slept for about 12 straight hours.  That last cigarette got my attention.  I haven't smoked since. I never felt the urge to smoke again.  Strange.

I do tell the people who wish to stop smoking that it isn't one day at a time, it's one urge at a time.
I wish I had never started smoking.  I am glad I stopped.  It was starting to get really tough to find a place to smoke.  I have seen smokers standing out in a field out in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard, not wearing much.  I could picture the headline in my head, "10 SMOKERS LOST DURING BLIZZARD, SEARCHERS START RECOVERY OPERATION."
Well, I guess they died happy.  Clueless but happy.

A reformed smoker is like an insurance salesman, a Mormon missionary, and 3 Jehovah Witnesses, all in one package.  We are the worst. We lecture. We are right.
Do you know what your house smells like?  Do you know what you smell like? Do you know what your lungs look like?  How do you feel about toting around a canister of oxygen? Do you know how much money you would have now if you invested the money you spent on cigarettes into Apple stock in 1990?

The little French Lady is a reformed smoker too.  In Canada they kept cutting down on places she could smoke.  She wouldn't smoke in her new car and she wouldn't smoke in her new condo.  She really couldn't smoke at work.  One day she was standing out in a field near Laval with three other shivering smokers and said to herself, "What to hell am I doing?"  She hasn't smoked since.
Until we quit our attitude was: What is wrong with these non-smokers?  What a rude group. So what if I burned a whole in your rug? Get over it.  We call that collateral damage. Why is your baby coughing? Oh, well.... get him to hell out of the room.  Why can't I smoke in your car?  It has an ashtray, doesn't it? WHAT IS THEIR PROBLEM?

Now that we are reformed smokers, we look at smokers with disdain and contempt. You smell bad. Your car smells bad.  Your breath is like an ashtray.
I will be a better person than you.  I will allow your canister of oxygen in my car.


  1. I am SO fortunate I never smoked. My father smoked, my mother didn't. My mother is from a family of 11 and she is the only one still alive. The rest ALL died of smoke-related illnesses (emphysema and lung cancer), except for the one who had Alzheimers. Walt's uncle died of emphysema. His mother lived to be 96, but died of COPD and her last decade or two was not a happy one because of it.

    Einstein should have known better. :)

  2. You do realize that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, don't you? Fictional characters do not suffer the ills of mere mortals.


  3. The starting smoking because of wanting to be in the 'in crowd' sounds so much like the majority of my peers... I hope they have the sense to give up as well!

  4. I too am a reformed smoker. I think being born in a certain time and place has something to do with it. However, I don't look at other smokers with disdain and contempt, because I too was one of them at one time. It's a terrible addiction. I still would like to have a cigarette and I'm sure that craving will always linger. Believe you me, there are still an abundance of smokers out there.