I sometimes think about taking up smoking again. That would be a monumentally stupid move of course, especially since I’ve had a friend drop dead from lung cancer not too long ago. Actually, you don’t really drop dead from that. It’s not like a heart attack. With cancer, you drop first and dead comes when it’s good and ready.
My dead friend smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish, as did I. During our college days, we spent many happy hours embodying these shopworn similes in that bubble existence of frat-boy life. We eventually graduated and stumbled wheezing into our respective futures.
My friend continued boozing whole hog before swearing it off for good around 1999. My own boozing has been half to most hog and continues to this day (though I’ve been more of a light drinker lately). As for smoking, I think he kept at it up to his cancer diagnosis and possibly beyond that because when it’s terminal, fuck it.
I myself quit smoking in 2008 after puffing away off and on for 17 years of my life. Perhaps I quit in time. We shall see.
Fortunately, whatever death wish I have fails to stand up against smoking’s biggest drawbacks. I’m not talking about the snowballing social stigma associated with the habit. I kind of like feeling alienated. The expense is a major issue, especially now that cigs cost around ten bucks a pack. I also don’t like how addicted I get to them. I envy the hell out of people who only smoke when the mood strikes them. Having a cigarette because you want one is rather nice. Lighting up because you need it is not nearly as much fun. The morning ritual of coughing up lung cookies also leaves a lot to be desired.
Hands down, the biggest pain in the ass when it comes to smoking is quitting. I’ve quit a few times in my life and the experience has gotten progressively worse. The last time was just shy of ten years ago. I took a few days off work so I could quit cold turkey. I avoided most human contact and lay on the couch eating cheap Chinese takeout and cursing the day I was born. I was successful in the end, but it’s not the kind of thing I care to repeat.
So my death wish has its limitations, but it is still there to some degree. Or maybe it isn’t a death wish at all, but more of a need to push my luck and see what happens. A comfortable life can get a little boring and it’s only natural to start taking it for granted. Also, there’s no better way to feel immortal than to knowingly engage in behavior that can shorten your life. This is true whether we’re talking about smoking, booze, drugs, or fucking. It’s not a rational approach, but that’s part of the fun.
I’ve often bragged to Rebecca about the stupid behavior I’ve engaged in over the years. She asked me how I’m still alive even though she knew the answer already. It’s dumb luck of course and nothing more. God does not smile upon me because there is no God and the law of averages simply hasn’t caught up with me yet.
Part of me has learned my lesson. My current brand of stupid is decidedly more subdued than it was in my glory days. Still, the thought of living out my days behaving myself is a dreary prospect.
Smoking is out, but I think I’ll lose my shit if I don’t partake in some kind of risky behavior. It also needs to be something I can lose myself in. I’ve never done heroin and likely never will, but I really am a junkie at heart so I’m always on the lookout for some means of escape.
It can’t be entirely free of risk or at least it needs to feel like it isn’t. Let’s make this interesting, as gamblers often say. It’s funny because I’ve never enjoyed gambling. The rush is not worth the money lost, not compared to what you get when you spend the same amount on an eight ball. Not that I want to do that either. Cocaine failed me and can no longer be trusted.
So what’s left? Russian roulette would be about as big a thrill as I could ever imagine. Just to hear the click of the hammer over an empty chamber just once. That’ll never happen though. I’m too chicken. Also, I might find that I enjoy the rush too much to stop. That’s a dangerous habit to take up. Worse than smoking, I’m told.