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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Apparently The Oral Habits Are The Hardest To Break

I’ve never been a smoker. My mom smoked when I was a child and I still remember the smell a day of cigarettes left on her and the house. Even though I was only maybe 10 at the time, it was perfectly acceptable for us to walk to the store down the street to buy them for her. All we did was show the clerk a note she’d written asking to sell us a pack and the clerk would comply. Hey, I know, but it was the 1970’s.

I also remember her "borrowing" my allowance to fund her multi-pack-a-day habit.

When I was in high school she tried to quit and it was like living with the banshee devil from hell. She would occasionally sneak into the bathroom and smoke standing in the bathtub, blowing a cloud of blue smoke out the window. This way, her logic told her, no one would ever know she’d cheated. I suppose she may have been right, because my father never seemed to catch on. She did eventually quit, but it was hell for everyone involved.

I remember once lifting a couple of her cigarettes from her pack and wiggling far into the bushes behind the house with my brother to see what the big screaming deal was about smoking. I don’t recall ever feeling so sick to my stomach up to that point. And oh my God, the aftertaste! I guess you have to kill your tastebuds before that goes away. I'd imagine that if you'd do something that causes that taste in your mouth, you'd pretty much be willing to put anything in there.

Still, I’m really not surprised that smoking isn’t regulated in the same manner as, say, soft drugs. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that cigarettes were advertised on television, along with cleaning products and the latest model of clothes iron. Tobacco has been a national crop for centuries in the United States and tobacco companies have engineered the product to virtually guarantee a customer base. And taxes on so-called sin products is a major source of revenue for the states.

All this aside, I just never knew why someone would do that to themselves. The yellow teeth and fingernails, the stale rank of your clothes and hair, and the myriad of health disorders precipitated or exacerbated by smoking. Kissing a smoker is nas-ty. And if I get hit in the helmet by one more motorist flicking his lit cigarette out the window I’m going to whack out. Besides, look a the cost! What’s a pack of cigarettes now, $5? If you, like my mother, had a three pack a day habit, you’re burning through over $5,000 a year in cigarettes. That’s a car payment, not a habit.

Every smoker has his/her own reason for starting or continuing. At first they do so to appear grown up or cool or to fit in with friends who smoke. Eventually it becomes a crutch, then a dependency every bit as powerful as alcohol is to an alcoholic. Personally I think the argument that not every smoker will die from it is a pretty lame attempt at denying their danger to your health. Not every gunshot victim dies, either, but that doesn’t mean guns are safe.

Several years ago I was relating this to a fraternity buddy of mine - and smoker - as we sat in a bar one weekend night. He was a fellow rugby player: big; broad-chested; solid.

“Yeah, I’ve thought about quitting," he said, "I really have."

“What’s stopping you then, the nicotine?” I replied.

“Well there’s that, but no, that’s not really the reason.”

“Why then?” I asked.

He exhaled a cloud of spent cigarette smoke over our heads. “Well, because I know if I do I’ll just go right back to cock sucking.”

- The Number of People Stunned by My Mediocrity