I bought a pack of American Spirits a couple weeks ago and I’m only half way through it. I’ve been trying intermittently to pick up smoking for years now, and I’ve come to realize that cultivating an addiction to cigarettes is like force-feeding a child 20 servings of raw broccoli daily until she no longer remembers the taste of Fruity Pebbles and Milk Duds. With summer rolling around, I’ll be spending a lot more time outdoors, so I figure it’s the right time to buck up and get serious about this. I want to make decisions that are scientifically proven to be hazardous to my health while I’m still young and viable and many of my peers are doing the same thing. But I’m starting to think I already missed the boat on smoking.
Throughout my childhood, I was warned that if I smoked one cigarette, I’d end up a wrinkly, yellow-toothed, orally fixated, life-long smoker. The first time had a cigarette my mouth felt like an old catcher’s mitt for days. It didn’t really make me want another cigarette. The amount of determination and self-abuse it takes to get to that level is daunting. As far as I can tell, anyone who has successfully become addicted either A) had a mother who smoked heavily while pregnant, or B) used cigarettes to kick a heroin addiction.
I’ve tried smoking while drinking. It numbs the burning sensations and increases my awareness of how cool I look, shrouded in a dim blue haze outside a party with other smokers. But damn, by the time everyone else starts lighting up that second one, I’m on the verge of an out-of-body experience and I can barely hold in my pee.
Getting addicted to cigarettes is not for pussies.
Aside from my body’s aversion to willful asphyxiation, there are countless other barriers between me and blissful dependence. I have to stand outside on rainy days, cupping my hand over my cigarette and sending hot ash directly into my tear ducts. I have to put up with lectures from would-be activists with nothing better to reform than my would-be habit and snarky comments from overprotective mothers every time I light up around their kids. And then there’s that $500 dollars a year to keep up the habit, half of which is taken by the government and goes towards anti-smoking campaigns which force me to stare at a pair of blackened lungs while I’m waiting at the bus stop, having a smoke. As if this weren’t hard enough already.
I’m thinking about trying the patch to ease myself into it. I tried the gum, but it’s like chewing on a year-old banana dipped in formaldehyde. There certainly aren’t any hotlines or support groups for this sort of thing, so I guess I’m on my own. Just me and half a pack of American Spirits in pristine condition, quietly mocking my inability to develop a chemical dependence.
–Matt Beachey is currently lost downtown. He can’t seem to find the bus that goes to St. Paul. Help him and he’ll bum you a cigarette.