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Tom Ouellette

Nicotine Neurotica
By Tom Ouelette
Jul 18, 2004 - 6:31:00 PM

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Well, it's that time in my life again; time to quit smoking - again. A good friend of mine has inspired me by sticking with it, and so I am making my third serious attempt in the twenty some-odd years since I started. I have quit for six months, nine months, and a year and a half. People have asked me why I started again after going so long without. One might as well ask why Keith Richards is still alive. Nobody knows.

The first time I tried I went cold turkey, and it was a miserable failure. I must have been a little testy, because the crew that I worked with actually chipped in and bought me a carton of Marlboros, while throwing out subtle hints like, "Here's a present for you, mein Furher." and "Start smoking again before we have to kill you!" Seeing as how I was in serious danger of biting my fingernails down to the first knuckle, I took their advice.

The second time I switched to 'smokeless tobacco'. You know a 'healthier' alternative to cigarettes. Oh yeah, great plan there, Tommy! Nine months of sore gums, heartburn, and spit-cups. Not very many dates, however, S'nuff said. I bought my OWN carton of Marlboros for Christmas.

My third time, I used nicotine gum and patches, which are ok if you don't mind spending enough on them to pay off the Latvian national debt. It almost worked, until my buddy and me went fishing and brought a few cigars to, you know, "keep the bugs away". The cigars were really terrible, but my buddy had plenty of cigs with him and from there it was, as they say, all over but the cryin'. We stopped at a store on the way home and I bought a carton of Camels. I figured I might as well put a little variety in my nasty addiction.

But I'm going to try again, even though my doctor hasn't been overly concerned. At my last visit, he said, "Good news, there are a few spots on your x-rays."

"How can that be good news?", I asked, somewhat alarmed.

"Well," he said," the spots are actually visible lung tissue. The rest looks like the inside of an old catalytic converter."

"I should probably quit the smokes, huh Doc?"

"Whatever. That'll be eleven hundred dollars, please."

Anyway, I may try the gum for the first week or so, but essentially it's cold turkey again. I'm pretty much on my own in my current job, so I don't think I have to worry about an angry mob with torches showing up at my house. (Oh, and by the way, never have a few too many beers and start mowing your lawn at 2:00 am; just trust me on that!). Short of hiring some guy to follow me around with a cattle prod and/or a hammer to discourage giving in to my cravings, I guess willpower is really the only answer. Plus, of course, the monetary incentive. With what I spent on smokes every month I could have paid someone to mow the lawn while I enjoyed a fancy imported frosty malt beverage, maybe even one that comes in bottles instead of cans. Now there's an incentive! Hmmm... Maybe I'll make it this time. Wish me (cough) luck.

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