No Ifs, Ands, or Butts

by Calendar Hacksaw

There will be no Calendar Hacksaw column this month. Maybe no column next month, either. Hell, for that matter, maybe never again. One minor change in lifestyle has caused ol’ Calendar to lose whatever spark of creativity he ever possessed.

Calendar Hacksaw has quit smoking.

Yep, folks, after some 35 years of puffing on two-packs-plus-per-day, I snuffed out the last butt on Sunday, March 29, 1998. Farewell, old friend. Farewell, you sonofabitch. Thanks for everything. Thanks for nothing.

Yeah, the chronic bronchitis had a lot to do with it. And the almost constant shortness of breath. The scary chest pains. The total inability to put in anything that even closely resembled a half-day’s work up at the Twisted Sisters Ranch.

It wasn’t the rising cost of cigarettes that did it, but rather the rising cost of smoking. “Sick and tired,” as they say, “of waking up sick and tired.”

Now, you might be inclined to shout, “Calendar, it’s been less than two months since your last big puff. How can you be so sure that you’ll make it?”

Good question, dirtbag. Deserves a good answer. I don’t have one, so this will have to do.

Thirty-five years is a lot of smoke. Gives a fella time to sort it out, try different things. Sure, I tried “cold turkey,” but I prefer a good burrito. Over the years, over the decades, dammit, I never quit for more than about 12 very miserable days. But not this time. The “secret:” NicoDerm CQ (tm).

That’s right, nicotine patches. Yep, that did it for me. Just three days into the ten-week program and I knew I had found the right door, walked through it, locked it behind me, and chucked the key into the mighty Caliente River.

I buy my patches down at Costco (tm), where I can pick up a two-week supply for about $40, which is less than I was paying for cigarettes.

No, patches aren’t for everyone; maybe not for you. Check with your own doctor; don’t bother me. I’m in a bad enough mood as it is, losing my “constant companion,” and trying to get on with my life. I may not crave a cigarette right now, but I’m fully capable of killing any human being who happens to tick me off for any trivial reason at all. Apparently that is one of the side effects of quitting. Well, so what? Just get out of my damned way before I flatten you like a ground squirrel being chased by a barn cat through a cornfield during a hailstorm on Moody’s birthday. Geez, just leave me alone!

Maybe this “bad mood” thing will go away eventually. Or maybe I’ll learn to focus it. Only time will tell, and I’m not into predicting the future.

There are other side effects to patches besides anger. One of them is nightmares. Nightmares, big time! No need to rent any videos. These make Melatonin nightmares look like daydreams. My average night’s sleep now is about four hours. I fall asleep at work while eating lunch or using the urinal. Sometimes I suffer from anxiety, chills, rapid heartbeat, delusions of grandeur, intestinal distress, sweaty palms, attention deficit disorder, poor manners, road rage, and improper Internet protocols. I pass school buses with flashing red lights. I intentionally try to pick losing numbers when playing Super Lotto (tm), and have become quite adept at it. I leave the toilet seat up and the cap off the toothpaste.

But that’s the price I have to pay, the price I’m willing to pay, in order to better comply with the law banning smoking in bars. That’s the price I have to pay to save up enough cigarette money to afford a weekend at the Rankin Ranch, where they probably wouldn’t let me smoke indoors anyway. That’s the price I have to pay if I want hang around on this earth long enough to get back all that money I’ve invested over the years in Social Security and retirement plans.

Quittin’ smokin’ ain’t fun; not by far. But it is a good idea for anyone in as sad of shape as me, and the improved health picture is almost immediate. I was surprised at how quickly my cough subsided and my sense of smell and taste returned. In fact, I would be derelict in my duty if I failed to tell some of my friends and co-workers exactly how bad they smell.

Ex-smokers can be a hard lot to deal with. Now I just hope some fool doesn’t go out and invent a beer patch. Some vices just best be left alone.

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <> and <> and he hopes to never hear from you while he’s in this bad mood. No animals were harmed during the writing of this column, but they’d better watch out.

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