Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Playing with Fire

Two weeks ago. the price of a pack of cigarettes in New York state went up to $8.50. Outrageous? Yes, yet still I smoke. I've taken my NicoDerm® CQ® patches out of the fridge and I'm putting one on now. Maybe I should put out this cigarette first, who knows what will happen. My smoking habbit spun out of hand after 911. But I went back down to a pack a day down from three.

Random thoughts about smoking as I apply the patch...

You know what's annoying? Those Quit Smoking Now commercials with the amputee woman. She says she lost her fingers to smoking. Not once did she mention that she was diabetic. Shouldn't that commercial have been against bad living and fast food as well? Then there are the earlier Quit... Now commercials with graphic scenes of a doctor removing a gangrenous toe. When I Googled, I found that the oozing special FX leg was made by a company in the UK. My idea of a scared-straight smoking commercial would be my aunt Nell trying to kiss me on the head while smoking as the camera goes black into the Kleenex® tucked into in her sweaty bossom. I remember the horror.

When I was 10 the older boys made me store their cigarettes in my recorder case. That ensured that I, the fat kid, wouldn't get the crap kicked out of me on the bus ride home. I guess that made me a drug mule of sorts. Anyhow, my mother found them in my recorder case while she was cleaning my room. I told her I was holding it for the older boys. Although this was true, she slapped me telling me never to lie to her. It takes a brave soul to tell the truth, as it comes with consequences. This is how our legal system works. Why was she cleaning my recorder case?

I love everything about smoking a cigarette, but hate all manner of cigar. I had my first cigarette when I was 12, though I still find if odd that people take up smoking later in life. Being young and stupid is reasonable, but being older and stupid — not so much. I remember when Juan Palomo and I snuk into the boonies to smoke his father's Kools that he stole from the freezer. He argued that it wasn't stealing, it was in plain sight behind the ice cream. I wasn't one of those teenaged peer-pressured boys, in fact most of my peers didn't know I smoked. Oh... except the math club. Geeks! I quit smoking when I was 16. Why did I start smoking again? Oh, yeah, art college.

Back in the day... everyone in post WW2 Guam smoked: doctors, pregnant women, priests, politicians, judges, military folks, and construction workers alike. For the new immigrants it was the congratulatory badge that seemed to say "You made it, kick your feet up and enjoy." On Sunday's after church, my grandfather took me to banter-weight boxing in old Anigua. I remember the smell of pomade, cigarette smoke, Florida Water and Cracker Jack. The ring was small and the room was always clouded with smoke. My grandfather smoked a pipe. His brand of tobacco had a slight scent of apple. I used to love changing the Zippo flints and refilling the Ranson-all. He'd give me pipe cleaners to make little men if I did a good job. He died of lung cancer when I was 13.

On the other hand, I had a grand aunt who smoked a pack of filterless a day. She passed away at the age of 101 in 2004, but not due to anything smoking related — just the typical things that come with old age, hepatic and renal problems. Her mind was still sharp, but her body had out-lived its time. The doctors tried to get her to quit smoking during her dialysis sessions. My mother, the avid non-smoker, snuck her some cigarettes. "She's an old lady already! Give her what she wants!" she said. Someone once said "Imagine how long she would have lived if she didn't smoke." She was 101, how long does anyone really want to live?!!

Then there's my father, he died of complications to prostate cancer in Feb of 2006. Through circumstances beyond my control I didn't get to see him through the worst months of his life. People say he had difficulties with the treatment. I'd never seen my father smoke or drink but there are random photos of him at Lion's Club meetings — an oddly placed cigarette in one hand, bowling trophy in the other, surrounded by white guys sporting Polo Barong and Cabana Wear. He quit smoking when he married my mother. She says she made him quit.

The City of New York has made "the patch" available through their 311 help line. Here's the catch: you get one week's supply of the weakest grade of nicotine patch. That's it — no more no less. Isn't that like giving someone a one-way bus ticket that takes you a short of your destination? Or getting a watch that still needs repair for your birthday? Thanks for the cheap gift Bloomberg, but I bought my own. I also have the Nicorette® gum in the fridge. The buzz is comparable to Betel nut. I wonder if anyone is using the patch to get off the gum. Hmm. I don't care much for the gum. I chewed tobacco for a while when I lived in Colorado. I couldn't get myself to spit in public or in a cup on the dashboard.

Where was I going with this... oh, I remember that the patch gave me really weird dreams that last time around. The kind when you know you are dreaming while flying in a dream-state, but not knowing what to do. So you wake up and go to the bathroom — but hopefully not in your sleep.

Lordy my, this patch has a kick like a mule.
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