Giving up smoking ain’t easy

By Bob Huber: Local Columnist

Today’s lesson is: How to
Stop Smoking and Go on
Living.

My wife, Marilyn, badgered
me for years to stop smoking.

She also said I should eat at
least five vegetables before the
sun sets each day. I wondered at
the time why she was so eager
to keep me alive. The answer:
Who would carry out the trash?

But I decided one day to
become a former smoker,
because it was easier than eating
five vegetables. Of course, I had
to eliminate a few activities that
triggered my tobacco cravings,
such as drinking coffee, driving,
fishing, taking naps, eating out,
going to cocktail parties, reading
the newspaper, sleeping,
walking and breathing.
It seemed so easy. Here’s
what happened:

I couldn’t sit at the table
drinking coffee anymore. My
wife and I had done that to
excess anyway. In fact, I’d
heard Marilyn tell folks our
marriage was just one long cup
of coffee. I missed the jitters.

I couldn’t drink anything
with alcohol in it. You see, alcohol
had a tendency to corrode
my brain. It made me think
whatever I was doing was just
about the snazziest trick in the
world, if not the universe. So
when I drank, I also smoked,
and I looked like Robert
Redford and smelled like chocolate.
I was awesome.

I couldn’t drive my car
anymore, because my ritual was
to adjust the steering wheel,
start the motor, fasten my seat
belt and light up. But I couldn’t
let Marilyn drive, because when
she did, I got the galloping
glerks. The upshot was, if I
couldn’t drive and Marilyn did,
I had to wear a blindfold. She
said it was embarrassing.

And I couldn’t go fishing
anymore. There’s nothing like
sitting on the bank of a small
lake, a big, black cigar clenched
in my teeth, my line in the
water. Often, when my line
twitched, I ignored it until my
cigar burned out.

When I was at work, I
couldn’t sit back and watch my
latest golden tome print out,
because I always reached for a
cigarette. Gone.

I couldn’t go to restaurants
anymore. One of my favorite
smoking moments was when
my order went to the kitchen.
I’d sit back and light up, sipping
casually on my martini.
Henceforth I had to call in my
order and make sure it was on
the table when I got there. I
couldn’t even have a drink (see
No. 2).

Naps were out, too. When I
woke up, the first thing I did
was reach for a smoke. I had a
like problem in the morning, but
I solved it by staying in bed
until noon.

And cocktail parties were
verboten. Even if I didn’t drink
(see No. 2), I craved cigarettes.
I think it had to do with hiding
behind something.

I would have to stand on
the patio to read the newspaper.
For years I spread the sheet on
the kitchen table, poured a cup
of coffee and lit up. A good
news day would take two cigarettes
and a second cup of coffee.
Reading outside, especially
in winter, got me interested in
speed reading.

I couldn‘t take walks without
smoking too, so I did away
with that nonsense. I got my
exercise by turning over more
often in bed and searching for
the remote.

Still, stopping smoking hasn’t
been all that hard. In fact, it’s
made my life much simpler.
I’m often seen these days
standing rigidly on my front
lawn, my eyes covered with a
blindfold, my lips moving
silently, my chest rising and
falling spasmodically. It’s the
only moment of the day I don’t
crave cigarettes.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist
living in Portales. Some
of his stories are mostly true.
He can be contacted at 356-
3674 or by e-mail:
mlh@zianet.com