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post #4
bio: stu

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Favorite Things
· The Flaming R. Kelly
· Malfatti
· Johnny Cash
· Chuck Klosterman
· Deadwood, Seasons 1 & 2

Previous Posts
Notes on Sobriety
Republicans Are Tough Guys
Brain Fog
Clown Posse
Uber, but For Wrong Numbers
On the Greatest Political Satire of the 21st Century

Mad Craziness

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It starts simply enough. You're out drinking one night, someone lights up a cigarette, and you bum one off of them.

After awhile, you start to feel guilty about bumming cigarettes off of your friends, and so you buy a pack yourself, "Just in case." You spend the rest of that day bitching to all your friends about the insane cost of cigarettes, and how you'd never let yourself get addicted to something so extraordinarily expensive. Also, you're a very smart person, and very smart people can out-think things like cigarettes. How smart can a cigarette be, anyway? It's just some crumbly plants and paper. It's roughly as threatening as a petunia!

A friend advises you, "As long as you only smoke when you're drinking, it shouldn't be a problem. Just teach your body that the two things are connected and that they won't spill over into your normal life." Unfortunately, your friend has glossed over that you are the Post-Modern Drunkard, and consequently drink nearly every day.

Within a month of when you started buying your own packs, you're smoking a half a pack a day (whether you have a drink or not). The thought occasionally crosses your mind that you should probably stop before you become addicted.

So you stop smoking. It lasts 28 interminable hours, and finally, during a performance of Beethoven's 8th Symphony, you make the reasoned decision, come upon after a long Socratic dialogue with your brain and your body, that "Dear Christ, okay! I'll get you some damn nicotine if it'll quit your aching!" Or at least, that's what you mean. Your actual way of phrasing it to yourself is, "Maybe I want to be a smoker, and I'm not just giving in to addiction. Yeah, that's the ticket."

You know that's a stupid thing to say. After all, you are a Smart Person. Smart People are self-aware and capable. Smart People are also occasionally jackasses with their heads up their ass. No matter how smart you are, your addiction will rise to that level. I'm sure idiots have idiotic self-delusions, while brilliant people have brilliant self-delusions--the end result is the same: "Maybe I want to be a smoker..."

It's a humiliating thing to realize that you lack the will-power to overcome something like this. At some inexplicable point, you developed an addiction. That you are, in fact, an Addict. Whether you're a Smart Person or not, your intellect isn't quite up to the challenge that a poorly packed paper tube presents to you.

You try a second time to quit. The withdrawal apparently makes you grouchy, although you feel fine; a bit dizzy and lightheaded, of course, and you see that the entire world is out to screw you over and make you miserable, but that doesn't have anything to do with the cigarettes, right? Your roommate and his girlfriend stop speaking to you for the weekend.

You keep telling yourself, "I can do this! I can! I'm capable, and I'm smart, and I can do this!" You say this to your reflection in the bathroom mirror, until you realize you look like a complete idiot.

You break down on hour 37, and buy a pack of cigarettes from the corner store. You smoke two of them in rapid succession, and get so dizzy that you're forced to sit down quickly on the curb in full view of the cute shopkeeper.

You smoke most of the rest of the pack in the ensuing 24 hours. Finally, you are asked by your boss if you actually want to be a smoker. After a long pause, you answer, "No." He takes your cigarettes away, and you decide to quit together.

You get new and exciting withdrawal symptoms. Your eyes burn and the right one feels like it's much larger than the left one. Your head feels like it's spinning--not vertically, and not horizontally, but diagonally. Your blood burns, like it's frantically trying to squeeze out all the remaining nicotine left sitting around in your bloodstream. And secondhand smoke smells like steak and eggs.

But after 48 hours, you realize you don't want a cigarette. You definitely wouldn't mind one, if only to ease your pain. But you don't actually want one the way you want a stiff drink, a raise at work, or a girl who'd return your calls.

Hell, you might even be cured! But what do you know? It's only been two days. The Marlboro Man might still be waiting for you on the horizon.

And you may even want to join him.

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