Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Trouble With the Cigarettes

I’m reminded tonight again that I should not be smoking.

Cigarettes are unhealthy, I know, but I’ve never thought I was prone to addictions. I drink, but I’m not a drunk. I didn’t let drugs didn’t ruin my life, just like the commercials told instructed me. I probably check my email too often. In all, though, I’d say I could restrain myself from any stupid need my brain told me I should fulfill. But here I am, sitting in a messy room and waiting for the phone to ring. And I want another one.

It’s strange, smoking. Setting a dried up plant on fire and inhaling what comes out. Most people would usually avoid putting fire too close to their face, but put that fire in the right packaging and it becomes this nice little nicety — five minutes between you and this primal element.

I shouldn’t smoke because I have been using it as a social crutch. If I don’t have anything to say to somebody, I can put a cigarette in my mouth and give myself a reason not to be talking. Sometimes my hands hang awkwardly, like they know there’s nothing for them to do. In high school, they’d dive into my pockets, but lately I can a cigarette in one and look like I’m smoking with a purpose. On a lucky day, I can smoke a cigarette and have actually draw someone towards me — sometimes a stranger — and have them ask me for a light or even a whole cigarette. And I say yes — especially lately, because I feel like I need the social interaction.

When I really think about it, however, I think the worst part about those damn cigarettes is that they help me escape. Not in the hallucinogenic Cory way — that’s a different trip — but in a very small way.

Spending so much time in this room, I feel like I’m trapped in front of the computer, even if I’m not really doing anything. A two-foot prison that I built in the space between my face and the computer monitor. Or some fruitless marriage between me and some one-eyed thing that stares back, oblivious to me but strangely comforting nonetheless. A relationship, by the way, I’m enjoying as I type these words.

If I go to the balcony and smoke a cigarette, I at least get five minutes away. And with good reason, too — I need a cigarette, I tell myself, even though I’d rather than I only wanted it. Lately, I’ve been living for those five-minute reprieves. Five minutes on the balcony. Five minutes in the dark, away from the light of the monitor. Five minutes for me to stop thinking about what’s on a screen and instead plot a prison break or a divorce or whatever metaphor would best get me out of the house. At night, I think the best part is the first deep breath after the cigarette — when I realize just how hot the air inside me had been. When I breathe in that cold air and it tastes so much colder than it should.

That joy, of course, is fleeting.

I’m here again now. I just smoked, but now I’m in the gray chair. Waiting for the phone to ring and wondering how many cigarettes I have left.


  1. -now I'm in the gray chair[,] [w]aiting for the phone to ring and wondering how many cigarettes I have left.-

    I like this line, and may thief it for some project or another.

    I usually don't smoke, but only because I can't afford to. I make do by hanging around chain smokers and taking deep breathes of second hand smoke. And that reminds me, a person I knew in high school actually believed that second-hand smoke was more dangerous than actually smoking. I didn't bother to correct his error.

  2. Anonymous10:02 PM

    As I finish reading this, an anti-cigarette add is airing and I find that ironic.


    Its been 46 days since my last smoke and I still want one.

  3. Anonymous10:42 PM

    it's something I can't put into words, and something that non-smokers think I'm blathering on about in order to justify my habit. but really, the relationship a person has with a much-needed cigarette-- especially sitting on a stoop in an empty street, as the majority of mine are these days-- is more personal than any relationship you can have with another person. it's mental space, a break from everything but your self. without it, life gets a lot more hectic.

    amen, my brother. smoke on.