I’ve been romanticizing my relationship with cigarettes lately, despite the many friends who have knocked on that door and found that yes, they still make your chest hurt, breath smell, give you headaches both when you are with one and when you are without, and now make you even poorer. And I should be suspicious that most people currently in a relationship with cigarettes want to break up with them. I should also be suspicious that I still want them although it’s been ten years since I’ve had even a puff, and that it took six years to stop thinking about them every single day. That’s a powerful drug.
Really, everything about not smoking is great. I don’t get bronchitis twice a year. I don’t have a stinky car. I can go up the stairs without getting winded. I can exercise. I don’t get chest x-rays. Everything about not smoking is great! Except you don’t get to have a cigarette. I know if I bum a smoke I might as well go buy a carton.
I used to smoke like an old lady with a cancer kazoo playing twenty-five cards at the Bingo Palace. (This is a real place. The smoking room there is a different color than the non-smoking room. Both the paint and the air. The paint is a brown, coffee-filter color, and the air is hazy and thick. It should be illegal to stand in there; you get winded just breathing the fumes.) I took a deep inhale, then would say a sentence and you wouldn’t see any smoke. I held it in a deep corner pocket of my lung for a good ten or fifteen seconds. Then I would exhale. I was a pro. I was going for the gold: squamous cells. It was just so good that way. The nail polish on my three smoking fingers was a different color than it was on my other seven.
Why, why, why do I want this nasty, loogie-infested, lung-butter making lifestyle back?
I just want seven minutes off. That’s what they give you: seven minutes when no one comes in the “fuck you” zone, that aura of filthy smoke. That’s why the Shadow Fairy backed off on the caffeine tip. No one wants Nicotina back. Really, that’s what the guys at the gas station called me. Nicotina. Because they tried to sell me lights as a kind of intervention when I bought straights. They asked why I wanted the unfiltereds. For the nicotine, I replied. I was then christened, “Nicotina.” Smoking is sexy–it helps you meet guys.
Today I’m not smoking. Today. No promises about tomorrow.
If I could only smoke when the crazy was flaring up! It feels better to smoke when you’re crazy. It’s no coincidence we’re mostly smokers. It’s like bees, with the smoke. It silences the phantoms and the moods. Makes them eat up all the honey because they think your mind is on fire, I swear.
Problem is, whether you smoke for what you think is a very good reason or not, you still die in a sucky way. Ever watched someone with advanced COPD try to get from the car to the door? Not fun for anyone. (B, I miss you madly. I won’t smoke today because I watched you die.)