There Is No Try! – Eulogy for a Habit

The moment I hit “Publish” and send this post into the blogosphere – a moment that will have come and gone by the time you read this – I plan to walk out to my garage and smoke my last cigarette. It’ll be a Camel Turkish Silver, my brand of choice, and I’ll enjoy it immensely.

Saying goodbye to smoking won’t be easy.

I’ve been telling folks for several months that I’m “trying” to quit smoking. But in the words of that intelligent and sagacious green Jedi, “Do or do not! There is no try!” So, like a good Padawan, I’m doing it.

I first lit up when I was a freshman in high school. My friend Dave had a cousin who 1) had easy access to cigarettes and 2) lived near a pool hall, so starting was relatively easy. Nothing beats shooting pool with friends, drinking an icy cold soda, and dangling a smoke from your lips. We were badass back then. But then we got busted. I don’t recall how my parents found out, but I will never forget my dad forcing me to chain smoke some unfiltered, manly variety of cigarette until I puked. Much fun! Either because of that experience or the lack of money, I didn’t smoke again for quite some time. Oh, I’d occasionally bum a smoke from someone and give it another try but it never stuck.

Then one day, just over four years ago, on a particularly boring drive to campus for my Human Anatomy & Physiology class, I pulled into a convenience store on the corner of Crescent Avenue and State Street and bought a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights. Reasons for doing so include:

  • I had weight loss surgery two years prior and was running out of things to with my hands besides eating while driving.
  • . . .

Funny . . . As I write this, I can’t really think of another reason. I could make up some bullshit about wanting to try something different, or how I desired to experience the joy that could be found by smoking in front of the building between classes, or how I needed something to do that was sneaky and daring and mine-all-mine, but it would sound like . . . well . . . bullshit. Maybe it’s just that simple.

Anyway . . . it stuck – big time.

I have since become a very good smoker. Almost two packs a day when I’m on the road a lot. Smoking in the car is an inexpressible pleasure; the wind in my face, the bass pounding the back of my seat, and ashes flying out the window and into the slipstream.

Nothing beats the feel of warm smoke in my lungs on a cold, winter morning; it mingles with the steam from my coffee and helps me open my eyes and get in the mood for the busyness of life.

Cigarettes have been there for me when times get stressful, like just before a big test or when a paper is due in less than an hour. Last semester, I took a philosophy course which required extensive reading and an explication paper once a week. My favorite time of day for sixteen weeks was those few hours on school mornings when I’d go to Bob Evans, order biscuits and gravy and coffee with cream, set up my office in the corner of the smoking section and smoke and read and write about Descartes or Kant.

When I’m home, smoking gives me at least one chance every hour or so to be alone in my garage or on my porch and think and hear only the tiny sounds of my tiny town instead of the roar of the circus I leave inside the door.

Yes, I will miss smoking.

But saying goodbye is something that must be done.


What will I not miss about smoking?

  • Aryn’s “No! No Smoke-oh!” chant.
  • Zoe’s plea for a pinky promise I could never give.
  • Ethan’s coughing as he sits in the seat behind me on road trips.
  • Ty’s innocent, spontaneous looks of disgust and the way he tries to plug his nose without me noticing when he’s in my car with me.
  • My wife’s worried expressions that seem to crop up more often lately.

Am I quitting for my family? Some would suggest that this is a bad idea, for only when we do something for ourselves will it actually stick. I started smoking for me and it stuck quite easily. And now I am choosing to quit for me. Maybe it’s just that simple.

I need to wrap this up . . . I’m dying for a smoke.


15 thoughts on “There Is No Try! – Eulogy for a Habit

  1. So you started smoking when you were quite old? Relatively unusual. On the plus side you only have four years worth of lung gunk to remove. I realised quite scarily that in a year I will have been smoking for half of my entire life. Not something to be particularly proud of. Good luck.

  2. Wishing you the best on your quest to quit. I am really digging your blog and I find myself checking it every so often during the day waiting for your next entry….Thank you for this next “fix” Have fun and Good Luck!

  3. Good for you. I am so grateful I never took up smoking, because I have a horribly addictive personality. I can’t imagine having to quit. Good luck to you.

  4. Thanks to both of you for your comments. I too have a very addictive personality; a bounce my leg constantly and need to be doing something with my hands nearly every minute of the day. I get humg up on things mentally and have certain brain ticks that keep my mind racing. It’s a cool way to live . . . !

  5. Sorry Slawnski, your post snuck in there and I missed it.

    I guess we’ll find out next weekend if things are going well, eh? See ya then . . .


  6. Good luck. I wish you success, but I want also to thank you for the post. While reading your story, I even forget that I am not an English speaker and read it without my Lithuanian-English dictionary. I read it like the most wonderful poetry – I rejoiced over the fluency of your word that so vividly depicted my own life – revived the precious memoirs – Thank you.
    What concerns the smoking, I didn’t succeed in quiting… I hope you will be more lucky than I.

  7. Tomas,

    I’m guessing that luck has nothing to do with it . . .

    Thanks, Tomas. You are always an encouragement!


  8. I’m sorry I didn’t notice until just this evening. All I can say is that I’m behind you 200%! I would love to see you conquer this! I love you!

  9. I smoked my last cigarette in 2001. There are times, I won’t lie, when I quake with wanting one, as a waft of my old familiar friend comes slinking past me on the street. It is a strong hold between smoker and cigarette, but I can tell you, on the other side, it’s incredible. To conquer it and experience life outside the haze is sublime, but you will remember, don’t let anyone fool you about that.

    You can do it!

  10. Good writing and what a challenge you have ahead. I am glad I didn’t start because I have an addictive nature also. My parents both quit cold turkey when they were in their early sixties. I was amazed. I always enjoy stopping in here.

  11. “but you will remember”

    I hope so. One thing that I find interesting is when people talk about smoking in their dreams. I have only smoked for a relatively short time, and have yet to light up in a dream, which gives me hope.

    Thanks, Amanda adn Inland for swinging by. An old friend and a new one – that’s what makes the world go ’round.

  12. Hi, I was wondering how you are holding up? Regarding smoking in a dream I have had one right about when i hit the 1 month mark. I have smoked for 4-5 years as well and I can tell you it only gets easier. Keep on writing, it helps.

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