It is to be fervently hoped that the cigarette I just finished was my last. We shall see. I am hoping that there is some value in admitting this in public, to my very limited public. Value to me; I don't give a fuck about its value to you (and therein may lie some of the problem, I suppose).
I have been smoking regularly for something like 38 years, though my first was longer ago than that, probably at summer camp when I was 14. I honestly don't remember, but it seems by far the most likely beginning. It was a beginning to my life as a pointlessly punkass contrarian, a thrill-seeker, a counter to sensibility and propriety. I had been, until that moment, a violent anti-smoker, and I was intellectually well aware of the health risks. I recall freaking out when I was 7 and my parents--both essentially non-smokers who could, back in the 60s, smoke an occasional cigarette socially--lit up after a dinner in a restaurant. My change became complete when I started swiping Larks from my father's parents--both of whom smoked until they were in their 70s (my grandfather, the Original Recipe John the Daftist, smoked until about a year before his death from COPD).
For a long time I smoked two packs a day, Winstons by choice, Marlboros sometimes and then always when I succumbed to the peer-pressured notion that Winstons were pretty freakin' gay. Then the world stopped letting people smoke at their desks, and rightly so, and I cut it to a pack of Camel Lights a day because the Marlboros (along with a steady stream of marijuana smoking) were making me noticeably unhealthier.
I quit for nearly a month almost 10 years ago. I had a heart attack, and was mildly impressed by that, and stopped, aided by a common smoking-cessation antidepressant I won't name. It made me itch. It made me insane. The drug, I mean. I had the heart attack the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I don't think I stopped right away--I think I waited until just after the holiday. I spent Christmas Eve with my brother and his family; my mother was visiting them. I bought a pack of smokes on the way home.
My bout of pneumonia, accompanied by the worst cough ever, chest pain that is at best musculoskeletal (and we are now fairly certain that it is), some potentially rather dire potential diagnoses from various test results, and the prospect of prematurely and irrevocably leaving Ilse, Bam, and I suppose Databoy, the lights of my life, has thoroughly frightened me, for reals, my genuinely risk-humping nature laid open, the frontier of risk aversion now discovered (in my personal life--professionally, it's more calculated, by many more orders of magnitude). Boy, do I feel like a pussy. Seriously. 38 years of the Devil may care, and now this, simpering about the game clock, veering away from the head-on. The only thing I can think of that would be more shameful would be acquiring formal religion (and in a way, my frenzied dash to perceived safety is a rejection of my previously established semi-formal secret religion). I'll get over it.
I hasten to add that while the dire stuff is not ruled out, it now seems far less likely, based on a visit to my newest doctor, a pulmonologist. Part of how we rule it out is for me to stop smoking, and we have created a cunning plan that includes nicotine replacement, a therapy I had not previously considered. I hasten slightly less hastily to add that it's not like I actually hate Databoy. He's just a thought-provoking series of questions, is all. I am a 53-year-old long-time smoker with cardiopulmonary issues. I don't have the fucking energy for thought-provoking series of questions.
So there it is, on the Web, my hope, my innards. I accept your good wishes for this enterprise whether or not you express them, and honestly, I'd probably prefer that you didn't, with one exception, because my contempt for you does not extend to actually wanting to disappoint you in some meaningful way. I am genuinely sorry to tell you that the exception is almost certainly not you; she is a visitor of delicate and extreme rarity, and there are very, very good reasons that she is the exception, in that she is the one human being on this planet from whom I will tolerate, unconditionally, any wee dram of optimism. And three of you just figured out that math.
And don't ask. I'll fess up if need be, or maybe, if need be, one of the local denizens who knows me in real life will attempt shame as a tool. Ask the She-Nurse of the SS how that works out. A tubercular cigar brothel/butcherteria in Tegucigalpa, to make an educated guess. In fact, the one person out there in the world who absolutely does not get that it's not okay to ask--the farthest thing from okay, in fact--is the She-Nurse.
The header quote stays. Only years will tell if it's applicable, and chances are it is, whether or not I stay quit. You really don't smoke for 38 years without shortening your life in some measure, even if you luck out and that measure is small. There's some magical thinking that only compounds the shame, hmm?
Goodbye, smoky treats. I will do my very best to never speak of this again.