It’s Friday night or Saturday morning? I stick the tobacco-filled tube in my mouth, inhale deeply and begin hacking and heaving. My friends nearby laugh at me and I realize I’ve lit the wrong end of my cigarette. Without hesitating, I pull another from my pack and light it up, inhaling deeply, carefree of judgment.
My eyes ache as I blindly move them from side to side before lifting my eyelids. I wake up with a dry mouth and a sore throat with an empty pack of cigarettes next to my bed. Where could they all have gone? I couldn’t have possibly smoked all 20 of them in a single night, could I?
I decide the question is best left unanswered. I also decide that I really, really need to stop smoking.
The next day, I go out and buy a pack of cigarettes. When I get back home, I put the unopened pack on the farthest corner of my desk, that way they’re staring directly at me.
It’s my way of saying, “Screw you cigarettes, try and tempt me.” My roommate loves my mentality. I can tell by the way the cigarettes quickly begin to disappear.
I’m already feeling the urge to light up, so I try to distract myself with a movie.
As I watch “Drive” for the first time, I think about how cool having a toothpick in your mouth looks (maybe it’s just because Ryan Gosling’s doing it) and I consider the possibility of replacing a cigarette with a toothpick. It could be an easy transition. But what if I fall on my face and suffer a puncture wound?
No, I won’t endanger my health with a habit just to make me feel better.
On the third day, withdrawal symptoms set in: headaches begin, sleep ends and irritability is inevitable. Traffic lights turn red more often than they used to and
people are driving slower than they did last week. I call the police to inform them, but they refuse to listen.
Later that day, I’m at a small party when a pretty edhead asks if anyone has a cigarette she can bum. I don’t have cigarettes on me, because I’m a stupid quitter.
It’s shortly thereafter I realize every friend has at least one or two annoying qualities, but now all my friends have only annoying qualities.
I wake up the next morning, told my car has been egged in the night. Big Tobacco is stepping it up a notch.
My throat is sore and I’m developing a cough. How is this possible? It would seem smoking was the only thing keeping my respiratory system alive and well.
This universe isn’t fair, or maybe it’s just picking on me.
I come home from work and my roommate tells me I look like I’m coming down with something. I inform him I’m just trying to quit smoking. He asks “why?” I make up an answer, because I forget the real reason.
As I hit the seven-day mark, I wonder why I feel so sweaty without actually sweating. The first week is the hardest, or so they say. I relish in making it this far. After that, I Google if anyone has ever died from cigarette withdrawal. The search does not prove reassuring.
It’s Friday night, I’ve had four or five beers and nothing sounds better than a cigarette. I think of the flood of relaxation that would totally engulf me, the sound of the crisp burning and the soft sound as I pull the filter out from between my lips. I’m in a small circle of people talking, realizing I’m neither talking nor listening to what’s being said. I step back and walk away. Then I walk out of the party and head down the street. I know where I’m going. The Stop and Go has the cheapest cigarette prices, and I’m only a couple blocks away.
I’m going to die eventually, regardless of whether I smoke or not, I tell myself. Why not make myself comfortable in the process? It all seems so clear to me – where did this stint of self-righteousness to quitting come from in the first place? I walk into the gas station, beelining for the counter. I point and ask politely for my Camel Filters as I reach for my wallet. I open it up and pull out four crumpled bills. There’s nothing else. My credit and debit cards are back in my car, where I accidentally left them. I curse myself as I lay the small amount of money I have on the table to see what it’ll get me; but this is California, and there isn’t a pack cheaper than $5.
I set back out toward the door, determined to find more money and return to claim my delayed prize. I’m about five steps out the door when I stop, shake my head then continue walking, laughing to myself. I’m not coming back to this place for cigarettes tonight, or ever. Sure, I will die one day, but at least I don’t have to clean out my wallet doing so.