Friday, September 17, 2010


by Dick Mac

I love to smoke. I love the buzz of nicotine, especially the first cigarette of the day. When combined with caffeine, it is a remarkable buzz. In fact, it is one of the most stimulating combinations of drugs I have ever experienced.

Sadly, I had to stop smoking. I had been having episodes of light-headedness combined with my limbs getting a little tingling (sometimes a lot tingly). So, I made an appointment with my doctor on (coincidentally) my birthday.

I sat on the examining table describing my symptoms to the physician's assistant when it happened again. The PA got the doctor, an ambulance was called and I got a birthday ride to the emergency room. (My friend, James, asked if I requested the siren and flashing lights for my birthday. Oddly, I was sort of too frightened to think of such a treat.)

The fear was that I was having a heart-attack. The good news is that in this particular instance, I was not!

I was admitted to the hospital and put through a battery of tests. I had a private, corner room -- two views of Greenwich Village buildings -- and was able to rest. (In those days, good insurance meant good medical care and treatment; after 8 years of Bush, good insurance means you aren't left on the street to die.)

The next morning, my doctor came to my room and made the statement that changed my life. He said:
I'm not going to tell you to quit smoking, that's your choice. What I will tell you is this: if you keep smoking this will keep happening.

That was eight-and-a-half years ago. The diagnosis was severe gastritis.

So, now I don't smoke, and I envy those who do.

I've found myself standing close to people who are smoking, so that I can smell the smoke. I miss smoking. I loved smoking.

I remember smoking in hospitals and on airplanes, I remember grown-ups smoking in movie theaters, and as recently as 15 years ago, I could smoke at my desk in my office. I can't imagine anyone doing any of that anymore.

After I quit smoking, smoking was banned in bars in New York City! Imagine! You can't smoke while you drink. It was a controversial law when it was enacted, but now it seems perfectly normal that there is no smoke in bars.

Now, the mayor wants to ban smoking in all parks and city-owned outdoor spaces. This would not impact private outdoor spaces. You could still smoke in your yard or garden, privately-owned outdoor spaces like plazas and concourses could still allow smoking.

Some militant non-smokers will use this law, if enacted, to justify their bad behavior; but I generally don't go to neighborhoods where those dullards live. If you want to see these assholes in action, visit Manhattan's Upper West Side or Brooklyn's Park Slope. You know the types: everything they do and believe is right and good and everything they don't like is bad and wrong -- and they have every intention of letting you know about it. They are often well-educated, overpaid, poorly-mannered people of privilege who thirty years ago stayed in the suburbs (and I wish they'd go back).

On the other side of the fence, some smokers are reacting foolishly with arguments about "freedom," and one person in the linked article actually invoked Nazi Germany in her defense of smoking; but I think that this law will probably pass, and we will all adjust.

In general, I think this is a good law. People can smoke, and it should be confined to spaces designated for that. It's a drag to have to walk a gauntlet of smokers to get into work. There are smoking bars, and your home is your castle -- smoke away.

This falls in place with my position on all recreational substances: if you're an adult and you want to smoke marijuana, you should be allowed to do that, if you want to use heroin, you should be able to purchase it. I totally believe in the regulation and controlled distribution of all drugs: cigarettes and coffee included. However, I don't want to watch most of it.

It will be amusing to watch this new smoking ban play out. Stay tuned!

When Citizens (Gasp) Are the Smoking Police


Thora the Bee said...

I used to love smoking too. Most of the time I think "how could I ever have been so stupid?" but occasionally I catch a whiff and it jogs my memory and reminds me of, like you said, that buzz with a cup of coffee... or a drink... or after a great meal, or the way my fingers smelled after smoking a cigarette outside in the cold. Someone I know (who also loved to smoke and has since quit) tells me that if she makes it to 80 without getting cancer of something else, she's going to start again! I'm with her!

Anonymous said...

you were poisoning yourself you daft dimbo!
how could you be so stupid?!
did you know that you were breathing in rocket fuel, rat poison, gas chamber toxins, embalming fluid and 4000 other chemicals?!
serves you right having to stop.
and by the way Thora the Bee i hope you never start smoking again.