Thursday, April 21, 2005


He was standing outside the student rental house. His hair was bed-smashed, curly and sexy. He wore a sweatshirt adorned with an anime character of unknown origin, and brown corduroy slippers probably previously seen under his grandfather's bed. He looked at once menacing and childlike, staring absently up the sidewalk. He raised his hand to his face.

And took a puff.

A loooong, deep inhale that I could feel, through the metal skin of my car, stopped briefly at the corner, the morning sun making simple shadows of complicated things.

I exhaled when he did.


I miss smoking.

I do.

Let's get this out of the way before I get to the pleasure part. I DON'T miss smelling like sticky tar. I don't miss yellow teeth, stained fingers, ash spilling onto the carpet, feeling desperate when I can't find a lighter, plunking down $5 I could use for food or heat, coughing bits of my lung up every morning, and knowing I'm doing 'highlight-delete' on several years of my life.

What I DO miss, when it comes right down to it, is the ceremony.

Every new pack is a present. The clerk plunks the pack on the counter with a satisfying thud, the expectation in your sweaty hands. Ceremony, the pack thumped against your palm, the smooth tearing of the celophane wrapper, ripping away a corner of the foil to expose those white and brown beauties.

Oh, the smell!

There's few things that smell better to me than fresh tobacco. It's like leaves in autumn, like harvest time, things growing and useful. There's a specific motion to coax a cigarette out: left index finger up, right hand holding the pack, open corner up. Tap, tap, tap. Pack to left hand, right thumb and middle finger pick out the longest one, lick your lips, and place the sweet stick in your mouth.

(Deep breath.)

Lighting a cigarette...oh...holy fuck...I can't explain the sensation. It starts with taste and smell, undeniably intertwined. Burning leaves, but school's out and we're free!, and your body begins to take over.

It's simple.

Breathe in deeply, hold it, let the smoke curl up like a warm cat inside your lungs, swirl about heady in your nose, it's like riding a huge wave, bodysurfing naked, and your lover coming inside you and with you, again and again. Each time the same and still different and you have but a few seconds to relax between the peaks before you arch upwards again...higher, so easy....


I suppose I also miss the drugs inherent in cigarettes. Nicotine is ruthless. But that's not the part that fuels my obsession. Not really. It's in my hands, my mouth, the shape my body takes when I inhale, exhale, the excitement of a new pack and expectation of another cigarette.

I haven't smoked a cigarette for 10 years. And still, every once in a while, especially when stressed, I feel the obsession creeping back. A friend, an ex-smoker as well, has agreed with me. Smoking is like any addiction. Once you're a smoker, you're ALWAYS a smoker. Just non-practicing. The urge never quite goes away.

I think I need more coffee now. My only drug. I have no choice but to drown myself in it today. It, too, has a smell I love, and taste. But it's damn hard to light.


At 12:27 PM, Blogger Marcheline said...

I love all the stuff you just described, too - but I've never been a smoker. Not a real one, anyway. I love clove cigarettes. You don't inhale the smoke, you just puff the cig and blow it out directly, no inhaling.

The smell of them in the package is heaven to me, and the little numbness of my lips (from the cloves, which are mankind's very first anesthetic)is indescribable.

I don't smoke them often, only when I'm outside on a nice day, at a barbecue with friends, or maybe strolling through NYC with my husband.

I guess what I'm saying is, you don't have to be addicted to the inhaling part to feel those desires for smells and familiar routines.

I am also getting a pipe soon - a tobacco pipe like my dad had. I bought my husband one for Yule, and smoke his occasionally for fun. But I want one of my own.

Have you ever thought of trying that? You get to smell the tobacco and do all the neat little lighting tricks, without ruining your lungs.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

The ex-smoker friend I mentioned buys me a pouch of pipe tobacco as a Secret Santa gift every year. That way I can pop that baby open and inhale the sweet smell for about 5 minutes, and then I feel good enough to go back to work!

I love the pipe idea, though! Sergei has in the past smoked cigars, which is sort of the same inhale, but you get that lighting/holding/breathing thing.

Clove the smell, have never tried. Might explore that!

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Okapi said...

Speaking from the Dark Side, is it possible to feel post-post pre-nostalgic? As in, I haven't actually quit yet, but can now imagine looking back?

My utter lack of willpower sucks big time.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

Oh hell yeah, post-post, pre-pre (for those who haven't ever smoked but might), all that's fine! I've started and quit smoking a dozen times in my life. For whatever crazy reason (I think it was kids), this last time took. Okapi, I'm living vicariously through you and looking forward to a 'contact buzz' from ya!

At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

Noooooooooooo. I was hoping all that shit would go away. I quit 8 months ago and was enjoying the rare urge to fire one up. Was hoping they'd keep dwindling down to nothing. Now you gotta go ruin it and say it still happens after 10 YEARS???

Congratulations on keeping your quit that long. I can only hope to be that successful.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

Oh, Brian, I really didn't mean to worry you! 8 months is GREAT, you totally are past the shaking, sweating, jones-ing part. The thing about long-range quitting is that it really DOES get easier as time goes by. It's just when something triggers the urge, it's like being really hungry...BUT it goes away. If you're working out, etc, those lungs are finally enjoying huge gulps of clean air! Good on ya' mate! Keep it up!


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