I wish I could quit non-smoking.
I know I have it in me. I’ve done it before. There was a whole two-year spell in college where I was doing really well. I was focused then, committed. I would go days without skipping a cigarette – sometimes even hours. I’m not saying this was easy – far from it, actually. This was college, after all, and I was as broke as I was into Amnesty International. However, I was not going to let my financial status break my will. I took a part time job where I got paid in cash, and every night after work, I would head to 7-11 and spend my earnings on something I could feel good about: a nice fresh box of Camel Lights. Sure, I could have squandered my money on something ridiculous, like food or shampoo, but like I said, I was committed.
And my discipline paid off.
That was the healthiest I have ever been. Socially. I would walk into groups of strangers – a smoldering scum stick my ticket to butting into a conversation on emo music or experimental film. Any time I felt an awkward silence at bars or parties, I would gracefully excuse myself to go outside and join my brethren addicts – sucking down carbon dioxide in sub zero weather to avoid the uncomfortable conversation inside. I forged many a lasting friendship on balconies, in alleys, near stoops, reveling in the delightful crackle of laughter and chronic bronchitis.
Like many people, I started non-smoking socially. More and more of my friends started experimenting with breathing correctly, and I found myself joining them inside while ‘my people’ behaved like responsible smokers and religiously puffed away at their American Spirits (the cigarette of choice for smokers who cannot quit and thus punish themselves with a lifetime of foul tasting smokes.) I avoided the judgmental gaze of my smoking friends when I turned down a post-drink puff, telling everyone that ‘This was just a phase. Just something I do when I want to let loose and not hack up a lung.’
But then I stopped buying my own pack. Soon, I was non-smoking everywhere: the car, my apartment, even at bars, once my carbon monoxide wonderlands. It’s true what they say, too. A non-smoker is tough to be around. You constantly reek of smugness, and you cough up moral superiority everywhere you go. I know it’s a dirty habit and that it’s not good for me - I know it makes me unattractive to rock stars and former drug addicts, and I am constantly aware of the amazing conversations that are being held over ashed cigarettes and flicked Bics all across this great nation. Now, when I’m at a show or a party I have nothing to break the ice but my own awkward giggle and perhaps an anecdote about how my car battery died last week – and let’s face it, that’s just not lady like.
Every once in a while if I’ve had a really bad day or a really stiff drink, I’ll overcome my craving to not fill my mouth with the taste of exhaust and old asphalt, and bum one, but sure enough, I’ll break and put it out before I’ve finished the job. I just don’t think I can quit non-smoking. I don’t have that kind of will power.