Quitting smoking is easy. I know. I've done it nine times. Of course I had to start back smoking eight times to get to the ninth, which finally took. I've been smokeless now for thirty years. Still, occasionally, when I smell cigarette smoke, especially outdoors, I'm tempted to find a cigarette and light up. I haven't...yet. I try to stay vigilant. I already know that I'm easily seduced by a life seen through a haze of smoke.
The first time I quit was when I went to Air Force basic training in the Seventies. I threw out my Pall Malls and bought a pack of nicotine chewing gum at the airport before I got on the bus to Lackland Air Force Base. I figured the gum would give me the edge I needed. That's what the ads said, anyway. I had the gum in my locker for our first inspection as basic recruits. The drill sergeant doing the inspection saw the gum and decided to make an issue. He picked it up and turned to me.
“You trying to quit?” he asked.
He got right in my face at that point, so that our noses were almost touching.
“Then just $@#&%!? quit, Dumbass.”
He took my gum, and I just $@#&%!? quit. It turned out to be pretty good advice, even though it only lasted for six months or so. Every time I quit after that, including the last time when quitting finally took, I did it without any chemical assistance.
The second last time I quit, I used the buddy system with my friend, Trish. We both quit the same night and vowed to be each other's support system. The idea was to be on call 24/7 to talk each other out of smoking.
Now Trish was kind of a beauty. She was also a trust fund child, and not much use to herself or anyone else. She had the haircut of a sixty year old woman and the mind of a six year old girl. She was spoiled rotten. She use to pay me $80 a month to balance her checkbook because she couldn't focus on one thing long enough to do it herself. Among all her friends, I was the only one who knew how much she spent on therapy every week. The eighty bucks paid for my cigarette habit.
This plan was doomed from the start. Trish lasted about nine hours. She went by a convenience store and bought a pack of cigarettes the next morning. The only testament to her resolve was that she didn't open the cigarettes until she got to my place. She didn't come over to get herself talked out of smoking. She came over looking for affirmation of her smoking. I helped her smoke that pack of cigarettes. I'm not proud. We all have our weaknesses. Like I said, Trish was kind of a beauty.
The last time I quit, the time that quitting worked for me, I quit with my step-son. He was six at the time. He wanted to quit sucking his thumb. I wanted to quit smoking for his mama's sake. She is allergic to cigarette smoke, and since she was and remains the love of my life, it seemed prudent to give up the Kools that had become my preferred brand.
We made a pact and went cold turkey one fine and sunny morning. I haven't had a cigarette since, nor has my step-son sucked his thumb. He does smoke though. He's tried to quit multiple times. Maybe one day he'll find a way that works for him. I hope so. Meanwhile, every so often, when I really, really think I'd like to smoke a cigarette, I will suck my thumb instead.