I used to smoke. I started in my last year of high school. I didnít start with cigarettes, though. I started with cigars. Iíd stop at the convenience store on my way to the bus stop and pick up a pack of Phillies Blunts, pop them into my back pocket and I thought I was the man. I can recall vomiting up sausage biscuits after the first attempt at finishing a cigar, but that didnít stop me from climbing right back on that horse.
While in college, I switched to cherry Black and Milds. They were, well, milder, and sweet. At this point, I still only smoked occasionally ó standing outside my dorm room between classes and waiting for my crew to show up.
After college, I got a job at Books-A-Million. Back when I worked there, it was OK to smoke in the store. There were even ashtrays in the magazine area. Not only that, but smokers were allowed two additional 15-minute smoke breaks. This is when I moved to cigarettes. After this, I was off and running. Newport was my brand because I liked to taste my cigarettes. Regular smokes didnít have a taste. They were bland. I liked the fresh and minty taste of a fiberglass-filled mentholated Newport.
Now, I was never a two-packs-a-day kind of guy. I didnít even smoke one pack a day. Perhaps I smoked two packs a week. If I happened to be at a party or out drinking, Iíd smoke more.
I loved to smoke. After a good meal, or a particularly sweaty session of ďgetting it onĒ, nothing hit the spot like a Newport. I needed a cigarette to talk on the phone or to wait on the bus. I just really liked to smoke. But, I never needed to smoke and that is where I consider myself lucky. When I finally decided to quit for good, I just did. I smoked the last Newport in the pack and I was done.
I wonít say that I donít miss smoking because I do ó but I donít think about it
everyday or pine for it. Iíll see a group of people sucking down that sweet, sweet poison, and Iíll wish that I could join them. But the fact that I already have so many factors against me health-wise, and the fact that throat cancer must really be a son of a bitch, helps me to keep my cravings at bay.
Now that I donít smoke, I can see how annoying smokers can be. Lord knows I took every opportunity I could to get a smoke, but when youíre not smoking, you realize how often everyone else is! Always wanting a smoke break, always looking for the briefest pause in activity or conversation so you can flee to the smoking area. Getting dressed in the dead of winter to go out and smoke. Being angry at restaurants that wonít allow you to blow your smoke across other peopleís food. Sweating the nicotine through your pores. Whatís even worse is relighting the stale butts of previously smoked cigarettes ó which, if you donít know, smell like absolute shit. I avoided the addiction part of being a smoker, so I can only partly understand the compulsion to always have a cigarette in your mouth. I was lucky enough to walk away cold turkey. Iím not going to get on a high horse and talk about how disgusting smoking is now that Iíve quit because I knew it was disgusting when I did it. And when someone would tell me it was disgusting while I was doing it, Iíd always tell him the same thing. ďI know, but itís cheaper than Prozac.Ē
I donít really have anything against Mary Jane or the people that seem to be so reliant on it. Even though it is an illegal substance, I tend to maintain a ďwhateverĒ attitude towards these things when they donít affect me directly or arenít really hurting other people. I wonít lie, Iíve received a small bit of the Devilís lettuce in my time, but the experience wasnít nearly exciting or life changing enough for me to start speaking in horribly obvious codes about 420 or buying cases of Visine. My experiences, limited as they were, led to me feeling bored, groggy, lethargic and wanting it to be over ó all feelings I donít need the left-handed cigarettes to feel, thank you very much.
And while I truly donít see the real problem with the weed, I do have a problem with the ďlegalize it and the world will be a better placeĒ theory. Too many times, Iíve heard someone propose that if ďeveryone got high, everyone would be so mellow that there would be no war.Ē Gag. All right, listen up, hippies, because youíre about to do your growing up. Weed isnít magic. Itís not like the Care Bear stare. People arenít going to smoke weed and forget that they hate each other. Sure, they might forget where their keys are or try to talk to you about how ďOnions and dolphins are the same, man!Ē but, peopleís hearts arenít going to suddenly grow three sizes!
You know whatís going to happen when they ďlegalize itĒ? Dealers are going to have to move on to other illegal things to sell, and youíre going to want that instead. Why? Youíre going to get bored with this legal, non-outlawed weed and youíre going to move to crack because people always want what theyíre not supposed to have. And, no, not everybody is going to suddenly become a pothead just because weed is legal. Weíre just going to be more annoyed when weíre having conversations about politics and you canít explain why the wars arenít all suddenly over because of weed.
Hereís a little fact for you, Moonfrye: You know what gang-bangers do before a drive-by? Guess. Come on... They get really high. Discuss amongst yourselves. Try not to get high first, so your arguments will make sense.
Stories by JíMel Davidson appear in every issue of Birmingham Weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.