Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Versus Cigarettes.

It’s been a long morning at the office. I’m in line at the overpriced Shell station across the street, eyeing the wall of sin behind the register.

My turn arrives “Hey I’ll take the Camel Lights,” I say, digging for my ID.

“No need, bud,” cashier puts a hand up, revealing a fresh pack with the other.

“Dang, over seven bucks now?” I cringe.

“Yeeeahhp. Harsh, huh?”

No matter. I’m in my truck now, the glossy pack of Camels fits perfectly in my palm. Inside are twenty little companions. Twenty little vacations.

I take the shiny tab in my fingers, and unwrap her like a present that’s just for me. The lid pops open with the crispness of a spring morning, revealing her metallic undergarments. They too, slip off with ease.
Ah, the first cigarette. Smells good, rolled nice and tight. She cheers smoke into my lungs, I smile and together we head out.

I’ve tried to quit smoking so many times it’s not even funny. I’ve tried substituting with patches, cold electronic variants, gum, hell even chewed on toothpicks. All failures.

As my little damsel sits comfortably between my fingers, I let her spirit escape out the driver’s window.

“You know those’ll kill you.”
“They make you stink.”
 “They’re so expensive.”

We pull back into the office parking lot. I suck away the last of her, toss her corpse into the dumpster, and head back to work.

It’s stressful inside, even for me. The client’s demands are all wrong, what they want will look like crap. The time frame is laughably small, with expectations disproportionately huge.

A few hours pass. I get a call as I’m saving the final design saying we have to start over.
I want to take my laptop, throw it across the room, scream, punch whoever’s next to me, tear off my pants, scream again and run out.

But then I see the Camels on my desk. They sit, pleasantly waiting for another visit. It’s not cancer they want to offer me, just a moment’s peace.
I take cigarette #2 in my hand, exhale a deep breath and step outside with her.

In there, it’s pure anxiety. Out here, it’s just me and God’s green Earth. Birds, clouds, and the Sun.

“Welcome back,” I hear a tiny voice say.

“Yeah thanks. I was about to go insane.”

“I know Andrew, I know. Just smoke me. It’ll be all right.”

“You know you’re killing me right now?” I tell her, taking a drag.

“That office is killing you faster.”

“You know people don’t like me because we hang out,” I tell her.

“Who needs people.”

“You know I’m going to walk back in there, smelling like you, and everybody will think I stink.”

“Again, who needs ‘em. Didn’t I just save you from certain doom?”

“Yeah but I could always just come out here for a moment to relax without you,” I tell her.

“Sure you could. Try just standing out here in the parking lot. Not doing anything, just standing here for six minutes. You’ll look like a creeper. You’ll look like you’re waiting for drugs, or a rape victim or something.”

“But I won’t be stinky,” I counter.
Before she can argue back, I stomp on her face then toss her corpse in the dumpster too.

I’m feeling positive I can quit for a moment, that I don’t need those cigarettes anymore.
Then I walk back into the office.

“Shit man, they want a leaf with a guy in it in the logo but it has to look like the letter O somehow I don’t even know where to start with this can you do it we have like fifteen minutes!”

 I whip out a machine gun with a knife on it and tear my way up and down the halls. Blood sprays like rain, I’m eating people’s brains and cackling madly.

“Sure, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

“Thanks Andrew!”

Back at my desk, my head pounds away. My fingers whip up multiple solutions. It’s not about being creative, it’s about getting it done. And that bothers me.

The Camels beckon, I do my best to ignore them.
It’s not just the nicotine that’s the hard part to stop. It’s all the little moments and details around that as well, that keeps you coming back.
It’s the jobs like mine where you opt for a six minute breakaway, rather than going Rambo on innocent coworkers. It’s the moments of peace that you just want to yourself. Without cigarettes, you lose those moments.

But you gain lung strength, stamina, stink less, spend less, and there’s less chance of cancer later on.

So risk explosive rage (but while in great health!) or keep smoking and keep subduing.

Wish me luck kids, I’m trying to quit again!

…Right after I smoke this final damsel.


  1. If I can break up with my 20 pounds, you can ditch your smoke sticks.

  2. I used to pretend to smoke when I worked at a restaurant in college because that was the only way you were allowed to take a break! What about taking a quick walk instead of just standing there? Or would you still look creepy? ;)