For this issue, otwo decided – after seven nonstop years – to give up smoking for a week in the ambition of saving €60, writing this story, and driving one writer entirely up the wall, smokes writes Colin Sweetman
Non-smokers just don’t get smokers, and smokers don’t get you. Why not just pick up smoking? When I suggested this idea for an Attempts piece, not entirely against my own will, someone I know said “why not just give them up entirely?” They just don’t get it. Smoking is something to do with your hands; an excuse to go outside; a time-burner, if you will. And sure, the other implications of smoking aren’t that great: cancer, general smelliness, penury, inabilities to run, swim, fly… but life is for living, right?
The night I stopped smoking, I ate a big dinner. Afterwards, I reached for my pocket and horrifically remembered what I had gotten myself into. As I had stubbed out my last cigarette, I remember thinking, “piece of piss” – but that was before I had the nicotine-less body. Now, it had gone beyond funny: not having that ritual after-dinner-smoke was comparable to someone turning off a movie you were watching five minutes before the end. The suspense was terrible, and I really hoped it wouldn’t last.
Day One: Friday
Managing to go the whole day without cigarettes, night comes and a cold shiver had wrapped itself around my weaknesses. I decide to destroy my bedroom in the pursuit of finding a stray cigarette, lost from times unknown. Eventually finding one that was stale, dust-ridden and bent out-of-shape under my book shelf (a smoker would probably smoke old rope if it was the only thing available), I sneakily go into my attic and opened the window.
Bang, Wallop. Inadvertently, I’m so eager to smoke that I open the window on my head, causing the cigarette to be thrown away in anger and pain. You win this round, Smoklor.
Day Two: Saturday
I wake up late for work, so no time for a cigarette. However, during the course of my shift, a Chinese friend gives me three packets of Marlboro Lights for doing him a favour a little while back. “Why are you giving them to me now? Could you not have been sooner?” I groan, to be met with remarks of “how the Irish lack gratitude” etcetera. Later that day I manage to roll some old tobacco I found into some palpable shape and smoke it – not entirely against the rules, because there’s no nicotine in rolling tobacco (that’s definitely not true – Ed). It tastes like dried shit (Ha! – Ed).
Day Three: Sunday
I discover a video on YouTube of a blank screen: you can hear someone in the background smoking, so you’re supposed to close your eyes and imagine it’s you. I spend the entire day playing online games that are designed to distract you from cravings.
Day, Four, heah, heah: Monday
I literally struggle to write something. It is incomprehensible to the non-smoker’s mind what I am going through now. I WANT A CIGARETTE EVERY TWO MINUTES. I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT THEM. On the plus side, I strangely feel less tired, but am also getting these weird bouts of dizziness.
Day Five: Tuesday
I have officially failed my attempt, only managing to stay off the silky bastards for more than four days. Oddly enough, though, I didn’t take a blow to my self-sense of integrity. The cigarette was so satisfying that it drowned and quaffed any other emotions I was feeling – to name a few post-quitting: anxiety, dizziness, being fidgety, lack of occupation, and so on.
While this was a hasty attempt at an Attempt, I did realise some beneficial side-effects of kicking the habit – even if it was only for a few days. I noticed that I smelled better (one person commenting “I didn’t miss that smell off you” when I was in rehab). It also came to my attention that I could actually taste food.Where there was once a time when chicken, bread, pasta, pizza and chips all only had a consistency to them – therefore explaining my irrational need for salt – food actually made an impression on my taste buds.
Still, there is the ongoing problem of the addiction. I generally came to the conclusion that for now at least, I can proudly admit that I enjoy smoking, regardless of the fact that others do not feel the same way.
People are always ready to scrutinise the smoker, but I (on behalf of smokers) do not feel that we’re trying to “look cool”, as the old accusation goes. Rather, it is merely a reflection of the time that we did.
The reality is that although we would rather have never picked up the habit, it is too damn enjoyable to give up now. I for one am happy to wait until I run out of money, or when the day comes that a person with several letters after their name tells me so. (Eh, I say so –Ed, MB BCh BAO)
The only alternative to that is to wait for a man named Grim to do some reaping.
If you’re really trying to quit smoking, visit www.giveupsmoking.ie.