A reader pointed me toward a great story, a hilarious look at one man's attempt to develop a pack-a-day habit in 30 days.
Tom Chiarella's adventure involved:
"... thirty-four different brands of cigarette, eleven lighters, spiritual revelations and moments of clarity, gatherings at alley mouths, unions with strangers on the streets of various cities, huddlings on a ragged porch watching the hand-cupped flare of a match in a snowstorm, a perpetual sore throat, a nagging cough, several puking sessions ..."
If only ...
I wouldn't be struggling to kick this pernicious, snarling monkey off my back if starting smoking was as challenging for me as it was for Mr. Chiarella.
How I started is:
In about five boring, inglorious minutes.
I was 16, with a few friends at a basement comedy club because it was probably the only place that either took our fake IDs for real or didn't care.
In between drags off his du Maurier Light, one of those friends looked at me, squinting through the smoke, and issued a challenge.
"I bet," he said "that you could have a drag and not even cough."
This friend was blundering through an ignominious teenage-hood filled with aggression and mindless rebellion.
I, of physical and moral weakness, would do whatever he said. And he knew it.
I was an easy mark for someone who took pleasure, as this friend did, in bending wills and forever changing lives.
But it was also an interesting little experiment.
How would I, someone who had been second-hand exposed to my parents' smoking all my life, react to my first drag?
He handed me his cigarette.
I took a drag.
Not even any guilt.
It simply felt amazing.
Within half an hour, I was out the door and heading to the nearest convenience store for my first pack.