November 19, 2004

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Forgive me, but I'm jealous. It's the Great American Smokeout Day, and apparently I've already achieved their goal -- I no longer smoke. This is not to say that I'm thrilled to have lengthened my life expectancy, especially among the anti-smoking fanatics, but that I would rather not pay the periodontist, the endocrinologist, the plastic surgeon, and other fun professionals who would end up on my payroll if I had continued to pursue the one activity in life that never let me down.

I will never understand why large corporations get to trade pollution credits: I'll keep the air clean at factory #1 and you can create a toxic waste dump where your company had factory #2. Yet no one gave me a prize when I stopped generating so-called cigarette pollution. Nicotine used to keep my sanity in check, but that option is no longer one to which I may avail myself. Why don't I get to make a deal, I'll stop smoking if you keep abortion legal and create laws to promote pay equity and equal civil rights for all?

During the last recession, at the tail end of Bush I's tenure, the magazine I worked for folded. It won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence the same day, but lack of profit trumps Excellence when your publisher belongs back in pet food, where he came from.

That day, the nonsmokers were smoking, the nondrinkers were drinking (several establishments we frequented via take-out sent us their condolences wrapped as a case of beer), and all I could think was, this just-say-no stuff is never going to work. When the economy sucks, we take our comfort where we can find it -- and afford it.

In this jobless "recovery," I'm surprised cigarette sales aren't up. I am aggravated by the Parents: The Anti-Drug commercials. I have to laugh at the PSA of the woman rehearsing telling her baby that smoking is bad for you. Could someone say something that the surgeon general hasn't said for the past 40 years?

People used to tell me smoking was bad for me as if they had just heard it on the morning news. I couldn't tell who was stupider: me, for smoking, or them, for informing me of news so ancient as to be common knowledge. Ever try to explain why dope is bad to a junkie?

The thing is, and was, smokers know we are going to die. We're pretty sure of it, and we think that death should be common knowledge to the nonsmoker as well. No matter what, it's going to happen. In a family whose addictive tendencies run as strong as they do in my own, death is a kick in the ass; grief will punch you in the face just when you have your makeup done perfectly; losing someone I love dovetails with the depressive's quick weight loss diet so much that muscle tone is a bad joke, but it's real life.

I wish I were one of the glass-half-full people, but I don't even think I'm with the glass-half-empty crowd. Somedays, I don't see the glass at all.


Blogger no milk said...

i think one of the things smokers forget is that other people share their air. and i am not even thinking about the fanatical non-smokers, i am just thinking about the lowly waitress, the working-through-college-bartender, who don't smoke but have to inhale secondhand smoke in the course of their work. the non-smokers and the smokers have a choice on whether to patronize a particular establishment. employees, for the most part, don't.

thank you very much for contributing to my comments, alice. i appreciate it very much. i hope to see you again soon.

6:14 PM  

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