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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Because life in 2009 is kind of weird, many of you know that I have been ill recently.

Used to be, the only people who knew I was sick were my mother, my doctor, and the unfortunate gentleman whom I coughed and schnazzed on while waiting in line at the Post Office.

Speaking of coughing and schnazzing, I've been doing a lot of that lately. As I write this blog, actually. I hate to see our brand new flat screen monitor getting speckled with my piggie sickie sputum dots, but my boney little fingers can only cover so much of my fat fucking trap. I've been expectorating recently thick, gray/green gloopy objects that have the consistency of Polaner All-Fruit left out in the sun for six weeks.

This recent infectious episode has brought to mind an unfortunate time in my earlier days when I undertook the dubious habit of smoking cigars. Now, I don't drink alcohol, and I never have, and I don't do drugs, and I never have (though I was, up until today, on three different antibiotics, which some might argue would constitute pharmacological abuse) and I like to smugly contend that I have never bowed to peer-pressure but, really, I have.

Come on, gloat.

Back in high school, a good friend of mine and I had just been to see Saving Private Ryan, easily the least funny Tom Hanks movie since "The 'Burbs." Seeing the film filled my dear, blonde friend with an overwhelming sense of American pride. It filled me with an overwhelming desire to vomit profusely and/or never sleep again. As we sat on his parents' porch in the middle of the night, he must have noticed my anxious and diaphoretic state, keen observer that he was.

"I'll be right back."

"Where are you going?" I asked, semi-panicked that the Nazis would storm the porch and annihilate me if I were left alone.

"I'll just be a second. I'm going to bring you something that will relax you," he said, disappearing into the house.

I was uncomfortable. I knew whatever he was going to come back outside with was going to be weird. I was worried it was going to be pot. Everyone tried to get everyone to smoke pot in high school, and I was already a junior and nobody had tried to force it on me yet-- so this must be it, I thought. On the other hand, I had a latent suspicion that this friend of mine was gay... A lightning quick image flashed through my mind of him gliding back onto the porch wearing nothing but a grin and half-open silk kimono, holding a pastry bag filled with ricotta cheese.

Fortunately, he returned fully clothed holding a large zip-lock bag containing two cigars. The whole Monica Lewinsky thing hadn't happened yet, so I was no longer worried about sexual misadventures.

"These are really good," he claimed. "And nothing is more relaxing than a good cigar."

"Really?" I said with my budding skepticism. "Even more relaxing than a blowjob?"

I have no idea why I asked that. It would be years before I would know what one felt like. Besides, the goal was supposed to be decreasing sexual tension.

"Yeah, actually, they are."

Definitely gay, I decided.

"It's fine if you don't want to try, but I'm going to have one," he said, chopping off the tip like an overzealous rabbi at a briss.

I watched him in profile as he lit the thing and as his lips puffed away at it. He seemed to know what he was doing. Then again, in high school, lots of us seem to know what we're doing. Take driving, for instance. I don't think I actually knew what I was doing behind the wheel of a car until I was twenty-three. Maybe even later.

My friend settled into the porch chair, slid down an inch, and closed his eyes, the cigar resting lazily in his mouth. If he got any cozier, he would have undoubtedly caught fire.

"Awright, you sonofabitch. Cut me one," I said, craving a relaxed, semi-altered state that would get the images of young mens' limbs and necks being blown up all over Normandy Beach.

And so began and ended my first cigar. I walked home, fell into bed and slept deeply and lusciously-- for a long, long time. It was a blissful sleep, devoid of any of the nightmares, anxieties, borderline perversions or paranoid hallucinations that plagued my rest from age 7 on upwards. I slept, as they say, like the dead, only without the smell. It was, in a word, beautiful.

Then, I woke up, went to the bathroom, and rhythmically hacked up green mung globules for half a fucking hour.

I smoked maybe thirty cigars from age seventeen to age twenty-three. During that time, I was convinced on at least three different occasions that I was suffering from oral cancer. I wasn't, of course. I was biting my inner cheek in my sleep, leaving gross wounds in there. Another time, I had taken up the bagpipe chanter and developed a blister-like growth on my lower inner lip from pursing and blowing so hard. These were all diagnosed by physicians whom I visited, telling all of them I was "a smoker."

"Well, how often do you smoke?"

"Um... I don't know. I smoke a cigar maybe once every three or four months."

"That really doesn't qualify you as a smoker, sir," one of them said to me.

Great, I thought. What the hell do I have to do to get some recognition for my sins around here: put my mouth on the tailpipe of a 1970s Mercedes 300-D for a month straight?

My sophomore year of college, my girlfriend at the time brought me home to meet her thoroughly disturbed parents. The mother had purchased me, in honor of my birthday, a humidor filled with high-quality cigars and two butane Colibri lighters.

"Use them in good health," she snorted.

I stopped smoking cigars when I was twenty-two and was training to enter the police academy. Seemed like a logical time to quit-- even if I didn't really qualify as a smoker anyway.


  1. I'll smoke just about anything you've got. It's the way of my people. Quit whining about getting a little goober on your computer monitor while you're sick. Come back to me when you shoot a goober onto your own windshield while driving, and your attention is caught by the brown streaks in it....


  2. I don't know why but I don't consider cigars as "smoking"... so while I am terribly turned off by cigarettes the occassional cigar really doesn't bother me... probably because they smell so good. Maybe it has something to do with not inhaling, as well. Who knows. Crazy irrational lady mind of mine.

    Sorry to hear you are sick. Feel better soon? Yes?

  3. Three different antibiotics? Really? No wonder you're sick- you killed you immune system . Doesn't your asthma make you somewhat immunocompromised already?
    God I miss smoking. Right about this time everyday- I want to smoke. Even though I know it'll make me so sick and won't be even close to as soothing as I remember it being, I miss it.


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