Offering further proof that God hates me,
the day after I quit smoking, I get sick for the first time in
three years. More specifically, I have an upper respiratory
infection (known colloquially as a cold). So just when I decide to
let my fragile lungs heal, they get infected. God sure has a
sinister wit. Still in spite of this altered state, brought on by
nicotine withdrawal and cough medicine, I can appreciate the humor
of the situation. It serves me right, really. I deserve God’s
wrath in the form of this cold. I never should have started
But then again, I thoroughly enjoyed smoking — every
minute of it. Smoking kept me warm on cold and lonely evenings. It
kept me calm when the stress of finals came around. I loved the
smell, the taste, the tingle in my chest, the slight buzz it
Not to mention that smoking is the coolest bad habit you can
have. Smoking provides you with an unmistakable air of confidence
and nonchalance. It’s no coincidence that the coolest people
of the last century were smokers. Without smoking, would Steve
McQueen have been the King of Cool? Would Cary Grant have been so
suave? Would John Wayne have been such a badass? Of course not.
Smoking was an integral part of each one’s image. And for
your modern-day smoker, whether he will admit it or not, there is
always a hope in the back of his mind that smoking will make him
look as cool as Steve McQueen, as suave as Cary Grant, or as rugged
as John Wayne.
For me, smoking started out as a purely social thing. I’d
have some drinks with friends or go to a bar, and I’d smoke a
few cigarettes. It was never supposed to get past that, but I guess
it did. Smoking slowly crept into everyday life until it was part
of my everyday routine — a pack a day and sometimes beyond.
It became the one constant in an otherwise chaotic time of my life.
Cigarettes were there to comfort me at all times.
So you see, smoking was great. It was wonderful. It was awesome.
I highly recommend that everyone take it up for at least a
But if smoking was so enjoyable and cool, then why would I even
think of quitting? Well, it’s because I hated it —
every minute of it. I hated coughing all the time. I hated paying
$5 a day for something I really didn’t need. I hated that my
clothes were reeking of smoke all the time. I hated having to put
up with my parents and friends nagging me to quit. I hated the
thought that it would eventually kill me in a most unpleasant
You see, smoking was also terrible. It was disgusting. It was
awful. I had no desire to do it ever again.
How could this be? How could I love smoking as much as I hated
it? It was so good for my psyche, yet so bad for my body. It was so
cool, yet so disgusting. It would someday kill me, but it made life
so much fun.
I was conflicted. I had two distinct characters telling me
opposite things. An angel would tell me to quit, and a devil would
tell me to keep smoking. Or was it the other way around? It was so
hectic that I can’t remember.
Then what was the deciding factor that finally made me decide to
quit? Well, like so many other things, it all came down to money.
That was the one point on which the angel and the devil could
agree: it sucked having to hand over my hard-earned money for
cigarettes. Every time I bought a pack, I would wince as I removed
the cash from my wallet and handed it to a smiling stranger. I
tried purchasing them with my credit card, but that just made me
wince 30 times as hard once a month. So I decided to quit once and
But I wanted the last cigarette to be special. I picked out the
most romantic location I could find: a rooftop overlooking Eighth
Avenue. in Midtown Manhattan. I slowly raised the flame to the tip
and watched it ignite. Then we sat there under the starry sky like
two lovers embracing one last time before they part ways forever. I
watched the smoke mix with the cool, crisp January air before it
was lost in the lights emanating from Penn Station below. A slight
smile crept across my face. I was at peace.
But alas, with each drag I saw the glowing orange ember grow
closer to the filter, until it was just a memory. I miss you, my
darling. But please don’t ever come back — not even if