Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Name:
Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Must Not Smoke...Must Not Smoke...Must Not Smoke...

I began smoking midway through my freshman year at college; I suppose I figured that since I wasn't have sex, I might as well do something else 'reckless' and 'adult.' (Ah, the idiocy of youth, which cannot recognize irony though it is painted on the two-by-four with which one is being smashed in the face.) Also, everyone at the UCLA Theater Department smoked, and I was desperate to fit in. I smoked long enough to learn to really, really like it. A lot.

I quit before I began my sophomore year. For many reasons. One, I was finally having sex, so I no longer needed a substitute. Two, my parents, who had never before spoken to me in such harsh tones, informed me that though they couldn't and wouldn't forbid me to stop smoking, they could make my life a hell of disapprobation until I did. Trust me, as trained WASPs, they could deliver magnificently on this threat. Strong incentive, there. Three--and this is how I was able to quit easily--I developed bronchitis that turned into pneumonia, and I couldn't take anything into my lungs for several weeks that wasn't just air. So, since I sweated out my withdrawal during this miserable period, and emerged unaddicted (physically), I figured, f*** it, and quit.

I still miss it, though. Smoking isn't just cool--it's...oh, it's good. It feels so...good to do it. Jesus, people, we all know it kills you, yet millions of us do it anyway--like Renton said of heroin in Trainspotting, "We wouldn't do it if it didn't feel good." But I've been good. One or two, here and there--if I'm at a family wedding, and folks are lighting up, I'll bum a few. But I've made a vow--I will never again purchase cigarettes for my own consumption. Never. And I've stuck to it, and it works.

But it was easier when I was in SoCal, where--essentially--no one smokes, and where smoking is viewed as rather worse than clubbing baby seals to death in front of retarded children on Christmas morning. In such a culture, Not Smoking is easy--shoot, you can't even smoke in bars in California--the insanity of that is just...I shake my head, at a loss for words.

But I'm not in SoCal anymore. I'm in the Midwest. The Heartland. The Heart-and-Lungsland. Where everyone--and I mean everyone smokes. I leave a class, and my students--all of them, light up, and I see them bristle with the joy that comes of that first drag and the knowledge that, at 18, they've got years to smoke before they have to think about quitting. And oh, how I envy them. And oh, how I want to join them.

I want to smoke.

I won't.

But I remember, and I want to smoke.

1 Comments:

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