I started smoking regularly this year. Never thought I would. Smoking was always that dirty, filthy, unhealthy habit that I looked down upon with others.
I’ve kind of joked that this year I wanted to become fully proficient at it. I once saw a guy playing ping-pong while smoking. Smack the ball, the cigarette perched on his lips as if it was glued there, as natural as could be. When I was that relaxed with a cigarette, then I would know I’d made it.
I’m still not that relaxed. I probably never will be. In fact, I’ve cut back on my smoking and probably will further. It’s not healthy, absolutely. I feel I’ve let the entire state of California down by being the blip upwards in the overall trend of those giving up smoking. Plus, with Obama’s much publicized pressure to quit, I feel the pressure mounting.
I could quit at any time. Heh, I know, that’s what they all say. But back when I dumped Diet Coke, I also didn’t smoke for a week, just to know that I could.
Still, for all the downs to smoking, I’ve enjoyed the social aspect. I had no idea. As smokers have been pushed and pushed into smaller and more limited areas (which ironically I support), there’s a kind of bond between those who buck all that’s against it. We share lights. We bum cigarettes. We form a type of club — you smoke too? We talk surrounded by our fumes.
It’s also relaxing. To just sit and smoke and contemplate. Pity it’s bad for you.
Postscript: My friend Ken after reading this pointed out an awesome recent Esquire article, Learning To Smoke, from Tom Chiarella, who covers his experiences starting smoking at 46. I feel I’ve found a twin I didn’t know