|I smoked Winston or Marlboro |
cigarettes for nearly 35 years.
Smoking is no longer always socially acceptable. People from whom I bum cigarettes were pleased I didn’t mention their names in the profile. And I received a LinkedIn message from an Iowa man who attends the Roger Ebert Film Festival, telling me he’d be back this year — he’d always pull out his Marlboros when he saw me coming.
“Looking forward to some movies,” he wrote. “Sorry to say that I quit smoking cigarettes, though!”
All of which made me think I should quit bumming cigarettes and tell those of you who still smoke a version of how I was able to give up regular smoking years ago. Here goes:
The house was quiet, an inner peace kind of quiet. The man I’d come to see stood and looked at me with a half-smile on his face. His deep blue eyes sparkled like deep, cold mountain lake water. The tanned skin stretched tightly over his high cheekbones.
“So you are hopelessly addicted to that noxious and evil killer weed, tobacco?” he asked quietly. His voice had only the slightest touch of pity.
"Yes, sir,” I said.
“Nicotine, of course, is a poisonous alkaloid, the chief active ingredient in tobacco that causes cancer, emphysema and heart disease,” he said. “If you want to kill yourself, there are better ways.
“Come for my advice only if you are interested in living. And if you are interested in living, quit smoking. You will enjoy living more; you will not have as many headaches; your food will taste better; and you may live longer. You will certainly smell better while you are alive.” He paused and gestured for me to speak.
“You are kind,” I said. “I believe what you say. But I cannot quit. I have tried everything and found nothing that works.”
“Do not say you cannot quit,” he said. “There is nothing in this world that you cannot do, if it is within reach. You know in your heart what you can and cannot do. You must believe that you can achieve anything you are willing to work for.”
“I’m willing, sir. But I have tried every ritual under the sun—"
“Your ritualistic, puerile efforts under the sun are worthless,” he said.
“But what can I do?”
“If you are truly serious and believe, you will look at the Debowelled Man of Signs. He will tell you when to quit. Each constellation of the Zodiac controls parts of the body. If the sign is above the knee, you cannot quit, no matter how much you try. You will experience pain and possess the foulest of moods until you return to the evil killer weed, tobacco.”
“But, sir, how do I find out when the sign is right?” I asked.
“The sign will go down to the knee soon. It will continue down through the legs and feet and for five days when it will return to the head. You will have only those five days to quit.”
“You have told me when. Will you tell me how?”
“Like a man,” he said simply. ”You throw your cigarettes away and forget about them.”
The next week passed quickly. Before I knew it, the sign was in the knees. When the sign reached the feet, I sat smoking frantically. When the package was empty, I bummed a cigarette. But with the sign in the feet, I thought it was worth a try and swore I’d quit. Two days later, I went back to the one who had told me about the signs.
“The time has come in which the sign is below the knee will soon be past,” he said, meeting me at the door with arms folded.
“I know. But I have quit the evil weed.”
“That is good, but the time of danger is not past. You much wait two weeks from when you have cast the evil killer weed aside to be sure.”
“I want to make sure I am successful in quitting the evil killer weed.”
“You will be successful this time, my son,” he said and put his hand on my shoulder. His blue eyes seemed to look though me. “And when you have it made it two weeks tell someone who might like to know that the sign must be below the knee if they want to quit smoking.”
The sign must be below the knee if you want to quit smoking. If that doesn’t work, try betting another smoker a thousand dollars you can quit longer that he can. That’s sure to work.