August 09, 2005

I Needed a Summer Vacation, So I Took One

Mentally, anyway. When surfing the internet starts to feel ennervating instead of enjoyable, you know, you have to take a break.

Besides I've clean run out of things to say. So Peter Jennings died and I suppose people will have some things to say about that, but I just . . . don't. I could say that the media didn't waste a minute turning it into a "SMOKING KILLS" story, and that I loathe this because (1) we know and (2) Jennings knew and (3) for Pete's sake, I was not fond of the man, or at least his public persona, but could we let him rest in peace for a minute before we go all Surgeon General on his dead ass? No, that's right, we can't, because journalism is a sacred trust and a higher calling and a public service and DID YOU KNOW SMOKING WILL KILL YOU?

The best ones are the outlets that claim people are quitting because Peter Jennings died. Firstly, I doubt that. People will say any damn thing if you man-on-the-street them. Secondly, how nauseating. Why turn an ordinary human being into St. Jennings of the Blessed Pall Malls? Wait, I know the answer to this one: Because if it helps save even one life, it will be worth it!

I'll tell you why I want to quit, myself: It's not the death part. It's the home oxygen-dependent part, the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease part--it's all the little and not-so-little health aggravations you go through before it kills you. It's knowing that the health care providers treating you think you're being nothing so much as a stupid, obstinate, waste of their time. Seriously, would you want to be putting smokers on ventilators all the time? Wouldn't that feel a little Sisyphean after awhile? Of course it would. I imagine it wouldn't be long before you'd be thinking, "You know something, Mrs. Kravitz, you're 82 and being intubated for the third time this year, and you want a medal for finally kicking the habit a whole six years ago. Well, screw you. I'm not giving you a medal because we don't give medals to idiots. Shoulda quit 40 years ago, idiot."

And what do you say to a headline like this besides, "Duh?" Teenagers don't think anything can kill them. I know; I'm the one who used to go skulking around the neighborhood at three in the morning, deliberately staying off the main roads and looking for dimly-lit streets to avoid . . . the cops. Oh yeah, teenagers are just fulla smarts like that. You can't get an addicted 40 year-old smoker to face the realities of lung cancer; now we expect teenagers to do it?

But I'll fall in line for a minute: You shouldn't smoke. You're better off stopping sooner rather than later. But I'm going to argue that you should do that not so much because it can kill you, but because of everything it screws up in your life in the meantime. Can't date nonsmokers. Can't sit through three-hour movies without missing a few scenes. You get weird pains all the time, everywhere, and every time, I mean every time, you think "Oh no, this is it--here comes the cancer." It's not worth it to smoke because of the anxiety it gives you alone--never mind the cost and the hassle and the nagging, the nagging, the neverending will you please just STOP it already nagging, from people who want you to quit.

So thank you, news people, for adding to the nagging. Because when it comes to turning smokers into ex-smokers, nothing else has been proven so effective. That's why nobody smokes anymore, right? Nobody smokes and we're all eating our vegetables and loving our bodies, ourselves. And listen, I made that up about Jennings being dead. Really he's having a great time on the Riviera right now, and he hopes to catch up with you all later, maybe this winter in Gstaad?

Posted by Ilyka at August 9, 2005 01:30 PM in navel gazing | TrackBack

Amen. What's even better are militant ex-smokers. You know the ones -- they come up to you with pithy phrases while you're trying to choke down a butt becuase if you didn't get out of your office RIGHT NOW someone was going to DIE? With pain?

And the second-hand smoke lobby -- who bitch at you and then go stand on the corner to cross the street and breathe in a lungful of bus exhaust?

Every time I handed a smoky treat to a friend who just ran out, I'd think: "Well, that's one less that I'll smoke."

Yeah. Been there. Done that. Clenched my teeth through all of it. And I wanted to quit, too. I tried. Several thousand times. This last time, I even spent money on nicotine GUM -- figuring all the while that 1) trading one habit for another couldn't be THAT bad; and, 2) well, mouth cancer is better than lung cancer -- ISN'T IT?

But there's one thing I will say: I will love and kiss and hug this baby of mine until the day I die (hopefully at a very late date and with both lungs intact) because he or she made it impossible for me to continue to smoke. S/He makes it difficult for me to even be in the same room when my husband lights up.

I love this kid for that.

My history with "luck" or "fate" tells me that I will be handed the same as Jennings, though. TWENTY years after I quit, I'll get lung cancer and croak horribly anyway. But I will have had 20 years smoke-free, so there's that.

P.S. Don't give up, hon. It's worth it to keep trying. Promise.

Posted by: Margi at August 9, 2005 07:35 PM

Nothing makes quitting easier than becoming addicted to Nicorette Lozenge. 4 mg of heaven anytime, anywhere. Great with alcohol and coffee!

And during the those difficult first few weeks
when folks are telling you how much more pleasant your company is now that you don't smell like a wet ashtry, you can be thinking * a Nicorette 8-ball under my tongue is the only thing keeping me from sewing your eyelids into corn pads *

Posted by: theProle at August 9, 2005 08:48 PM

You smoke?

You're 40?

Who knew?

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at August 10, 2005 04:07 AM

Militant anti-smokers annoy me, too. I quit 20 years ago but I remember all of the snide remarks people would make sure I heard. Every time I coughed, someone had to say something about my habit. How I quit: I was down to my last cigarette one night and couldn't decide whether to smoke it that night or save it for the morning. All smokers know what that last cigarette is about. I wasn't dressed to go out and get more and didn't feel like getting dressed. Smoking it that night meant no cigarette in the morning until I could get to a store. I smoked it that night and haven't lit up since. I quit for no particular reason. Glad I did not only for the health, cleanliness, and social reasons. I don't think I could afford it now.

Posted by: Rob at August 10, 2005 04:22 AM

Your use of "man-on-the-street" as a verb? LITERARY GENIUS.

Posted by: Moebius Stripper at August 10, 2005 04:32 AM

No, no, I'm 36! And I smoke. You can call me a filthy smoker but don't call me 40 until I actually get there. It'll happen soon enough after all.

Posted by: ilyka at August 10, 2005 04:36 AM

bleh. i've got compulsory military service coming up in a few months so i've got to get my butt in shape.

i've started jogging and stuff, but no luck with giving up smoking as of yet.

Posted by: dr.dna at August 11, 2005 01:46 AM

My contender for "Best Smoking Scene In A Movie That Otherwise Sucked Hot Lead Through A Straw (But I Like It Anyway)": Jessica Lange doing the "take a drag off death" line in "Crimes of the Heart". Sweet.

Yeah, I remember that 'running low on cigarettes' time period. That was a pain, and I live in Manhattan, literally two blocks from a bodega. Still too lazy to put on shoes at 11:30 at night.

Posted by: Seb at August 12, 2005 02:45 PM