No Ifs, Ands, or Butts
by Calendar Hacksaw
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-days work up at the Twisted Sisters Ranch.
It wasnt 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, its been less than two months since your last big puff. How can you be so sure that youll make it?
Good question, dirtbag. Deserves a good answer. I dont 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).
Thats 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 arent for everyone; maybe not for you. Check with your own doctor; dont bother me. Im 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 Im 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 Moodys birthday. Geez, just leave me alone!
Maybe this bad mood thing will go away eventually. Or maybe Ill learn to focus it. Only time will tell, and Im 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 nights 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 thats the price I have to pay, the price Im willing to pay, in order to better comply with the law banning smoking in bars. Thats the price I have to pay to save up enough cigarette money to afford a weekend at the Rankin Ranch, where they probably wouldnt let me smoke indoors anyway. Thats the price I have to pay if I want hang around on this earth long enough to get back all that money Ive invested over the years in Social Security and retirement plans.
Quittin smokin aint 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 doesnt go out and invent a beer patch. Some vices just best be left alone.
Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <firstname.lastname@example.org> and <email@example.com> and he hopes to never hear from you while hes in this bad mood. No animals were harmed during the writing of this column, but theyd better watch out.