I was a great smoker.
I used to wake up in the morning, stretch, rub my eyes and say:
Morning again!Ã‚ Time for a delicious, fibre-packed, vitamin-filled cigarette, bursting with all the essential nutrients an active adult needs!
Jesus, I loved them.Ã‚ I often had three of them in bed before getting up.
Three!Ã‚ Three delicious life-giving cigarettes!
Oh yes.Ã‚ I was a world-class smoker.Ã‚ I was such a heavy smoker, I used to light up a cigarette while I was already smoking.Ã‚ I used to get up in the middle of the night to have a smoke.Ã‚ I used to select only the holiday locations where I could smoke, which — to my astonishment — included Walt Disney World.Ã‚ No white-water rafting for me, or bob-sledding.Ã‚ No deep-sea diving.Ã‚ No speleology.
For me it was strictly about lying on a beach in the Canaries, wrapped up snug in my duffel coat with forty or sixty Gitanes and a bottle of Japanese whiskey.Ã‚ They wouldn’t let me smoke in the Louvre or the Uffizi, the bastards.Ã‚ They wouldn’t let me smoke in Cologne cathedral either, nor in St Peter’s basilica, but I didn’t care.Ã‚ I had my smokes and that was all that really mattered.
I didn’t care that a coffee cost 10 euros, because you had to have a newspaper and twenty smokes to enjoy it properly.Ã‚ I didn’t care that a newspaper cost ten euros because you couldn’t read it properly without a coffee and twenty smokes.
And then, one day, I bumped into Dickler, who was as great a smoker as me.
Something strange about you, Dickler, I remarked, though I can’t quite put my finger …
And then it hit me.
Jesus, Dickler, there’s no cigarette in your gob!
That’s right, he said.Ã‚ I don’t smoke any more.
I fixed him with a gimlet eye but he didn’t flinch.Ã‚ He just stood there, leaning against the bar counter like an undelivered mattress.
But how ..? I was baffled.
Simple, he said.Ã‚ I just stopped smoking.
Could it really be as simple as that?Ã‚ Shit, if Dickler could do it, I could too.Ã‚ And so, the next time I wanted to smoke, I didn’t.Ã‚ It wasn’t too bad.Ã‚ And then, the time after that, I didn’t again.Ã‚ And before I knew it, I wasn’t not smoking any more. I just didn’t smoke, and I still don’t, five years later.
It came at the price of a bigger appetite, and I put on weight, which pissed me off intensely, but one day, when I had to visit a physiotherapist for an ankle injury, I remarked that my body had been taken over by fat aliens.
Could be worse, replied the physio.Ã‚ You could still be taken over by smoking aliens.
Some people I hadn’t seen in a while were less sensitive.Ã‚ (You know who you are).
Jesus, Bock, you fat bastard!
Not fat.Ã‚ Cuddly.
Fat.Ã‚ You’re a fat bastard, Bock.Ã‚ Jesus, you used to be so lean.Ã‚ So lithe.Ã‚ So sexy.
I wouldn’t go that far.Ã‚ But look at that belly!
This hurts, mostly because it’s true, and because I know I’m a lazy bastard as well and if I only put in a bit of effort I could return to being the suave, urbane, lithe, lean, sexy Bock of five years ago.
But that Bock was a smoker and this one isn’t.Ã‚ I can work on the belly.