I woke up this sunny Easter morning and started making homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs and I had one thought: I wish I hadn’t quit smoking on a regular basis when I was in my early 30s.
I’ve never been addicted to smoking, except for a brief period in the late ’90s when smoking was banned from bars. I was a bartender at the time and, prior to the ban, I wouldn’t really smoke while on my shift. I would, however, puff my way through a pack while counting out the drawer and tips. Then I would sit up all night with the cook who always had access to the best…ah…recreational items.
Once smoking was banned, I realized I craved that smoke that had been getting blown in my face for 10 hours a day. I would sneak into the stock room and sit on a keg (gross) with a cigarette in my hand until the bar regulars with empty glasses would threaten to mutiny. I would then be forced to leave the cigarette balanced over a large coffee can until the ash would burn to the filter and I would have to start over.
I stopped smoking altogether (mostly) when I was in my early 30s because I had a health scare about my lady parts. My tyrant of a gynecologist claimed the eight nasty spots that needed to be removed were linked directly to smoking. Whether it’s true or not, that doesn’t matter. It got me to put the lighter down. Mostly.
My father smoked. A lot. He had terrible health issues…heart attack, stroke, diabetes. Regardless of any genetic predisposition to these diseases, smoking and booze didn’t help. All those chemicals in his body and all that carbon monoxide in the lungs. Nasty.
He was living in Washington DC when smoking rules were just coming into vogue, a few months into GW Bush’s first term. The entire family got together for Easter brunch and descended upon this little restaurant. I can’t even remember the name or location of the place; I’m sure if my brother was involved, it was in some tony little neighborhood in the District.
When we arrived, we were informed the restaurant was now a smoke-free establishment. My father twinkled and smiled and coerced until the owner offered up a small private space for our party of maybe a dozen family members. We were brought to a room with a large round table, separated from the rest of the place by double french glass doors. My father who was burdened with more than a passing resemblance to our new Vice-President Dick Cheney sat, as he always would, on the far end of the table with his back to the wall, facing those doors.
It was a busy Easter Sunday and people filtered past the door, glancing in at our private party. Eventually, we noticed, people were taking more than glances. Some were openly staring at Dick “heart problems” Cheney in his private room smoking like Morton Downey Jr.
My father, three mimosas into a five mimosa morning, looked away from the people watching him through the door and faked a heart attack.
If he had quit smoking at age 60, he might still be alive…maybe, probably not…but that’s not why I bring it up. If he quit smoking at age 60, can you imagine the accolades he would receive and how much better he would have felt?
Congratulations! You quit smoking! Such an achievement!
I had a cigarette the other night. A hand-rolled American Spirit. I don’t smoke on a regular basis. I might light up outside a party to join other friends who might be smoking. I can do this because I don’t run the risk of addiction, the way I’m addicted to fatty foods and bourbon.
But, I wish I were a real smoker and I could quit smoking today so I could cross something off my list. Eat right. Exercise every day. Cut back on the booze. Get a real job that pays really well. Quit smoking.
I’m one for five. Con…grat..u…lations?
PS The homemade vegan, paleo, gluten-free Cadbury Creme Eggs aren’t delightful, but they aren’t bad.