On being a sick smoker

Sometimes, being a smoker sucks.

Not because of the cancer, or the inevitable decline in physical capacity. Not because of the hideous acid-burn gawking thrown my way by every middle aged white lady in every public space ever. I’ve accepted these unintended side effects of the smoker lifestyle as a badge of honor; a mark of endearment even. I’ve long since come to grips with my eventual fate as a sputtering inert mass of flesh and American Spirit smoke and I fully accept that my favorite delayed suicide method will render me subversive and frightening to little old church ladies and disgusting and smelly to everyone else. Except, of course for that 30-something hipster outside of the Starbucks on Campus who like clockwork accosts me at the table for a “stoge” at least twice a week. He sits in front of me and talks about the screenplay he’s been writing for nearly 5 years, pinching my cigarette behind his ear before he does so. The first time this happened, it nearly convinced me to give up smoking. Tobacco use is a leading cause of unwanted secondhand conversation.

I digress, yes I smoke. Yes, I am prone to colloquy with self indulgent baristas at Starbucks and hated by most polite company. This pales in comparison to the emotional anguish of being a sick smoker.

First world problems right? No No! Hear me out.

What started as a vague undefined throb in the back of my temple turned into the headache from hell plus congestion. This matured into a full throttle head cold leaving everything above my shoulders throbbing, inflamed and submerged in mucous. Fuck that, and fuck being sick.

Except no, fuck everything! Because as it turns out, having a face full of goop and a throat on fire will make the otherwise enjoyable experience of sucking down on tar and nicotine feel roughly akin to giving impassioned fellatio to a third cousin of Skeletor. I got halfway through a single cigarette and gave up, insisting on riding out the phlegm typhoon before bothering to light up again.

Within about 4 hours I found myself beholden to the sort of unfiltered rage someone might experience when they contemplate blowing up a nunnery or slapping a barking dog. I spent the remaining 17 hours of my Friday cursing violently at the television, cursing violently at my math homework, cursing violently at my bookshelf when it decided to fall over and smash my foot, cursing violently at my cat, and cursing at my Issac Asimov book when I ran out of pages to read. My neighbors likely think I’m a violent alcoholic wife beater, and my 7 year old brother has gone on record of asking me what a “fucking cocksuker” is. It’s almost as if my nicotine habit acts as a salve that keeps my lower nature from popping out of its hiding place. Like the thick frosty cloud of smoke in front of my face acts as a needle on the proverbial record player, making sense of the grooves and preventing the daily stream of events from being interpreted as perturbing twaddle that can be banished with a 4 letter word or a rolled up magazine. Take that away from me, and I’m liable to spend my time as an angry caffeinated boy-tumor who occupies his free time with writing blogs and drawing penises in old math books.

So kids, don’t smoke. You will have to talk to the 30 year old barista who opens his mouth too wide when he laughs. You will find yourself using the “c” word to refer to one or more household appliances, and your neighbors WILL assume that you’re a paranoid schizophrenic if and when you stop. Oh, and I guess you might die too.

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2 thoughts on “On being a sick smoker

  1. michelledowd says:

    This is hilarious Geoff! You are a vivid and funny writer!

  2. As a close to middle aged white woman and mother, I have to fight the urge to warn you about the dangers of smoking. 😉

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