Alibi V.16 No.25 • June 21-27, 2007 


Too Punk to Smoke, Part II

Flow my tears, the ex-smoker said

Well, it looks like it's over for all you smokers. Your days are numbered. You will soon be forced to join me in the hardest and most mind-twisting endeavor of your miserable little lives.

June 15 marked the onset of a new era of terror with regards to suckers of the evil plant, supporters of the industry of evil.

Now you cannot light up anywhere, really. One group of civil liberties-minded people down ’round here (Alamogordo) decided on having a smoke-in of sorts. They believe the government has trampled their rights. (Cruel irony: I am almost entirely certain these rights-minded folks not only voted for Bush twice—Patriot Act, anyone?—but also get misty after 12 natty lights and wax poetic about all those young boys fightin’ for our freedom “over there” ... never say the actual name of the country, such a bummer.)

It’s not a right, but a privilege. Freedom of speech is a right because words, unlike cigarettes, cannot cause someone who never spoke one word to choke to death on blood. Go outside, killers. I’ll go with you and sniff your clothes. It freaks people out but it stinks so damn good, I can’t resist.

The only part of the smoking ban I cannot totally agree with is the part that prohibits sucking a cancer stick down while guzzling Long Islands inside a bar and listening to bad indie rock. Last I heard, alcoholics like cigarettes. It helps them stay awake and drink more.

Yes, we do need to worry about the health of bar employees. (It’s hard for strippers to see the stage when it gets too smoky and swinging from poles is definitely aerobic exercise. I say that with the utmost reverence.) The only problem with this aspect of the ban is I know too many bar employees. Lighting up in front of one, if you could find one who doesn’t smoke, would probably go something like this:

“Would you mind not smoking? I’m trying to do cocaine here.”

I’m not saying all bar employees are drug addicts. Just all the ones I know.

In the end, it’s all for the best. The tobacco companies are soulless killing machines. They need to be stopped at all costs. Slowly taking away places for people to slowly kill themselves slowly chips away at the death merchants' capacity to kill people and profit.

John Bear is still too punk to smoke. Unfortunately, he has also gone irreversibly insane.

Me, I couldn’t be happier, having successfully quit now for—God, it feels like forever, three or four months in reality, but forever in my mind. Time really is relative to the observer. Having a lack of neurotoxic stimulants in my bloodstream slows it down substantially.

But there are definite pluses to being an ex-smoker.

I can now run almost a block without coughing up blood. I now know just exactly how nasty fast-food really tastes (a double cheeseburger from McDonald's tastes exactly like licking a sweaty fat man in a steam room, or so I’ve been told). The men’s room at work is unholy, as are all men’s rooms. Really, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Also—and most importantly—there are definite, undeniable minuses.

I have transformed from a foul-smelling, yet wholly calm and collected columnist/professional journalist into an incredibly broke latter day Howard Hughes.

Fortunately, I will never have to stand with my feet in tissue boxes gripping milk bottles of piss. Big White Pill in the morning, Little White Pill at night keeps me from calling up ex-girlfriends at three in the morning just to ask if they were mad at me because of that one time four years ago when I didn’t hear what you said the first time, ’cause I really didn’t mean to be an insensitive person, I just …

I have traded the wicked tobacco industry for the equally wicked pharmaceutical industry. Fortunately, I don’t suffer from one of those silly social anxiety disorders. The smoking just reigned in the craziness to an acceptable threshold. Truth is I was already sliding into insanity, a horrifying descent into unknown territory within the realm of mental unhealth. It was a real relief to hear the doctor say, “You remind me of Howard Hughes, John.”

Now I am all better (and they say drugs are bad). Or maybe I’m not (probably not). Or maybe I am but it will just take some time. Or maybe I’m not. Or maybe …

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.