Monday, January 09, 2006

Smoking is an explosive vice

If I ever had my life to live over, there is only one thing I'd change for sure. Never pick up a cigarette.

I started smoking when I was 16. That means I've been at it now for 37 years. Something to be proud of, right? Whenever I'd try to quit, I'd get this terrible pain in my lungs, as if someone was wringing out wet towels, twisting and squeezing them as hard as they can. The only thing that relieved it was a long, slow drag off that lit killer weed. The more I puffed, the less pain I felt.

Back in the 80's, there was a great place to go to on Park Avenue in Winter Park called Harrigan's. It was a real neighborhood kind of place and I made a lot of friends there. Alas, all good things must come to an end and as that date was approaching we all looked around for a replacement place to go. We found Bailey's, up the street from there. It hadn't been open that long. It was OK, but, it wasn't as cool as Harrigan's. Happy hours were fine, as they are in most neighborhood establishments, but after happy hour was over, many of Winter Park's "my poop doesn't stink" crowd would start meandering in. That's fine, since most of us were ready to slide out of there by then, anyway. When the place started to reek too heavily of massive doses of perfumes and colognes, we were out of there.

One night, most of our regular gang was gone, but the perfume crowd had not yet sauntered in. It was like we were in the desmellerized zone. Wayne Trout and I were kind of milling around. I had quit smoking 5 weeks earlier and had not smoked one cigarette during that time. My lungs were really aching me that day, to the point of unbearable agony. Back then, I enjoyed my Stoli on the rocks with a twist. After a few, I was standing near the bar, facing Wayne. I said, "Wayne, my lungs are killing me so bad, I could crush this glass." I squeezed the glass, mocking my intention. All of a sudden, the glass exploded. Glass, ice and liquid went flying everywhere.

Everyone around me and at the bar looked at me. "ARE YOU ALRIGHT?" they screamed.

"Yes. I'm fine."

Cocktail waitresses came up. The bartender looked at me. They all asked, "What happened?"

Wayne told them the glass I was holding just exploded in my hand. It literally exploded. "Did you cut yourself?" several people asked.

"No. I'm OK."

Everyone gave me a strange look, one of complete perplexion. I mean, you don't just stand around exploding drink glasses all the time, especially the on the rocks, sturdy type. Everything had exploded into small pieces. No one even tried to find and clean up most of the glass, except for what had hit people and fallen to the floor. The bartender asked me if I wanted a replacement drink. I told him, no, I think it's time to go. Wayne said, "No, Dave, let me buy you a drink."

"Oh, OK. I probably need one."

"I'll be more than happy to buy you one, but, not until you go buy yourself a pack of cigarettes. You need a pack right now before you blow somebody up." I went and bought a pack.

I'm not one for making new year resolutions. I would like to quit sometime this year, but, I'm almost afraid to try. Anyone have any good suggestions, just in case I get that terrible pain in my lungs again? Maybe I can go to Iraq and be a forward field officer, detonating roadside bombs and suicide bombers before they reach our troops. I'll have to learn how to control my energy a little bit more, though.

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