I’ve had a friend for years and years who seems to drift in and out of my life with maddening regularity.
Sometimes I want to be close, other times not so much, but this friend is always there, always available, always comforting and always, weirdly enough, on the same wave length with me.
And all I need to connect with this friend is a lighter or at the very least, a pack of matches.
Cigarettes. My friend, my buddy, my bad choice of comfort.
“No. 7 regular, please.” That would be me. Buying one more pack. Again.
Actually, I had never heard of anyone referring to cigarettes as a friend until the other day when I admitted I had quit.
“So, you must be going through a grieving process,” this person said. “It’s kind of like losing your best friend.”
I have lost car keys and wallets and phone numbers. I have lost my way, and I have lost people I cared about deeply. But, I never, ever thought giving up smoking was like losing a friend or an object.
But, actually it is.
For years and years I told everyone that I could take or leave smoking. I was the control freak, here. I could decide.
I’m not sure when the rules changed and I became the servant and my cigarettes just laughed at me and went up to about a million dollars a packet. But, they did.
And still I bought them.
I was introduced to cigarettes and lipstick when I was about 13 by my brother’s girlfriend, who was 19 and much cooler than me so I accepted both the gifts that came with the “grown up label” attached without question.
In those days rolled up blue jeans, penny loafers, bobby pins, record players and drive-in movies were in.
So were cigarettes.
It seemed we smoked everywhere, except, of course, in front of our parents, which was not allowed then and, to my knowledge, is not allowed now. Except, of course, in my case, where the reverse is true.
I would be severely chastised if I even entertained the thought of lighting up in front of my children whom I swear have a sense of smell keener than a police dog sniffing out drugs.
Things were different when I was young and knew everything.
Smokers were accepted. And when they lit up, they didn’t get the look — you know the look of pure disdain like they have two heads and are also weird in other ways, that they get today.
Smokers were allowed into bars and restaurants and offices and even people’s homes. Smokers, heaven forbid, even smoked in front of children, sometimes even their own.
But, that was then and this is now.
Now, baby boomers such as I have had to admit smoking is a dirty, filthy habit and hanging is really too good for any of us who dare to indulge in it. And if we cannot convince ourselves that we are guilty as charged, all we need to do is check out the graphic pictures on the cigarette packages.
Try and have a cigarette with a clear conscience after that.
It’s not easy, but, unfortunately, it can be done.
Ask me. I know.
But, I have quit again. This time for good.
Well, at least for today!