Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nineteen years later

You must be hard up for material if you're making yet another post about quitting smoking.

Not really. The day I smoked my last cigarette — October 8, 1989 — still sticks in my head. October 8 has become an anniversary of sorts.

Ah. So do you remember the day you began smoking?

No, but I remember my first cigarette. It was a Viceroy, smoked in a friend's backyard during a lull in a wiffleball or soccer game in said backyard. My friend had taken up smoking under the influence of his sister's boyfriend, an older guy who smoked, yes, Viceroys. The cigarette was horrible, but I was determined to master this strange ritual of what I thought was adultdom.

It's interesting that you remember not the game that was taking place but the brand of cigarette.

I suppose it is. I've always been brand-conscious. As a cigarette smoker, I developed strong associations with my favorite brands: Camels, Lucky Strikes, and Pall Malls; and Drum and Old Holborn, tobaccos for rolling one's own.

Rolling your own? Isn't that likely to look suspicious?

Maybe, but I never had any problems. I think I probably appreciated whatever clouds of suspicion the practice gathered around me, as I did almost nothing to attract such clouds otherwise.

So nineteen years later, are you sorry that you ever started?

I would be lying if I said that I am. I loved smoking, and many of the cigarettes I smoked were deeply satisfying experiences — ritualized moments of introspective selfhood. In other words, Here I am, sitting with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, thinking, thinking, alone.

Hey, those are my italics.


Related posts
Cigarettes and similes
No smoking
"Please Don't Smoke"
Thank you for not smoking

comments: 7

Slywy said...

Never liked smoking.

I guess I have my introspective moments with just the coffee or tea.

Well, I guess my whole life is an introspective moment.

thalkowski said...

If you haven't read/heard Billy Collins's poem, 'the best cigarette,' check it out.

Domhan said...

Your cigarette brand consciousness made me think about long late summer afternoons during my childhood with cousins...playing "cigarette tag." This is a game we invented that shows how immersed in advertising and brand identity we were. The object of the game was similar to playing regular tag. Someone was "it" and tried to tag someone else to make that person "it." But the tagee's strategy was to kneel down right before being tagged and shout out a cigarette brand name. If you choked and couldn't come up with a brand name, or if you said a brand name that had already been used in that game round, you were then "it." I remember, at age seven, doing research in the grocery store; I had lost a game of "cigarette tag" and I needed to bone up on more cigarette brand names for the next go around. But since most of our extended family smoked, we knew the names of many brands; the game often went on and on until the mosquitos chased us inside.

Love your blog--I found it when I searched for materials on "How to Email a Professor": required reading for my First-Year Composition students. They have a quiz over it on Friday. (thank you!)

Michael Leddy said...

Slywy, I could've added that I can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke now.

TRH, yes, I know that poem Thanks for the tip.

Domhan, I laughed very hard at your story. My wife Elaine remembers playing the same kind of game with the names of television shows.

Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting that I'm the first person to congratulate you for 19 successful years!

Michael Leddy said...


Dense said...

Maybe the word should be: Adult-dumb. Never smoked a single cigarette in my life but probably had a 3-pack-a-day habit from playing music 5 and 6 nights a week in smokey clubs.