I quit smoking Oct. 16. That’s not the weird part.
The weird part is how easy it was and that I haven’t gained a single ounce. Now, that’s weird. I’m fully expecting to wake up some morning with a lit cigarette in my mouth and 30 pounds around my middle that weren’t there the night before.
It’s very weird, very weird indeed. But I’m loving it. A lot.
I’ll tell you how I did it shortly.
Funny thing about smoking. It doesn’t take much to get started. Or as any smoker, or former smoker knows, restarted. Being immensely stupid helps, helps a lot. Really. Because no right-thinking person with anything resembling a brain would willingly put a glowing, red-hot tube of carcinogens in his mouth and suck.
I’m not a stupid man, but when it comes to smoking, I’m as dumb as a sack of spent butts.
Like most smokers, I’d quit before, a bunch of times. The most recent was Jan. 5, 2005, which I remember because it’s the birthday of a close friend, and the next day I was going on a trip to the Caribbean which seemed to be a good time to chew some nicotine gum and wean myself off butts. It worked, too, and I was good for the next five-plus years.
My son joined the Army in 2009 and reported for basic, ironically, on Jan. 5 the next year. In the service, it seems, smoking is as prevalent as pushups and drill sergeants barking at you to do more of them. My son smokes, and I blame myself a lot for that, but still, it was ultimately his choice to be stupid and start. Ah, like stupid father, like stupid son. Helluva legacy, that.
Now mind you, over the years I wasn’t smoking, I’d bum a butt every so often, usually while drinking at a party, and that was that, I’d smoke one, never feeling the urge for more. I’d do this every few months, a couple or few times a year. Piece of cake. Got it licked, I figured.
But in April of 2010, after my son was done with basic, I drove him to Fort Drum in upstate New York, about a seven-hour haul.
So what the hell, I bummed a few on the way up. Then a few more that night, as we stayed in a hotel before I dropped him off at the base the next day – after bumming a few more. I dropped him off, stopped at a convenience store and bought my own pack, convincing myself it was just one pack, I’d smoke that and no more. I did mention that smokers are immensely stupid, right?
Add delusional to that, too. Smoking is an addiction and who’s more delusional than an addict?
So there I was, the tobacco monkey on my back again, sucking the oxygen from me, one coffin nail at a time. Then in spring of this year, I screwed up my Achilles tendon, which over the next few months just kept getting worse to the point of needing surgery. Which happened Nov. 7.
Wisely, my doc won’t operate on patients with nicotine in their blood. Some pesky little possibility about constricted blood flow and clots and death, blah-blah-blah. I’d never thought of that, but then again, I was a smoker, why would I think anything I was doing relating to smoking was inherently dangerous?
So I quit, on Oct. 16 to be exact, at quite possibly the worst time to quit. You see, I’m an amateur actor and was in the middle of doing a play in Middleborough, which is pretty nerve wracking in itself, and even more so facing surgery three weeks later. If there ever was a time to completely rationalize smoking, maybe even ramping it up to the chain-smoking level, this would be it.
But no, I had to quit, and soon, to get the nicotine out of my system and pass the pre-surgical testing. A friend told me about a book by Englishman Allen Carr, called, believe it or not, The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. **
Now I’m not a man who does things the easy way because as I’d mentioned earlier, I’m stupid and stupid people tend to over complicate everything. And an easy way to quit smoking? C’mon, easy? Really?
Really. It’s too much to completely explain here, but basically Carr – a former five-deck a day dude - says smokers are brainwashed into thinking smoking is just too hard to quit, it’s got the grip too deeply in us, that nicotine’s hold is as powerful as any drug.
And that’s crap. So Carr says. And which to me, and millions of others who’ve read the book since it came out in 1985 and actually quit, is rock-solid true. If you follow the directives of the book – while you are still smoking, by the way, you don’t quit until you finish reading – you’ll stub the last cig and that’ll be that.
Was for me. I won’t lie and say I didn’t have urges, I did, but nowhere near as strong as the past times I’ve quit. Compared to them, this was a walk in the park. While breathing a whole lot easier besides.
And I liked smoking, as odd as that sounds, if it weren’t unhealthy and expensive, I’d still be puffing away. So I didn’t have that “I hate smoking so much, I’ll do anything to quit” mindset.
But still, I quit. On Oct. 16. I haven’t smoked since, haven’t gained an ounce, and hopefully won’t ever light up again. So far, so, so, so good.
Weird, I tell ya, just weird. But I’m loving it. A lot.
** Editor’s Note: be sure to see the listing for Allen Carr’s book in our Baker Books column