I first started in my mid-teens. Weakly and lamely with tea-bags. I was at that age where I wanted to look cool, but with limited resources, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one to do it. Not by putting one end in my mouth and trying to light the other, it was sprinkled into a cigarette paper and rolled up beforehand. The advantages to this were plentiful. It wasn't going to kill me, it looked like a real cigarette, and upon arriving home to face the parents, I never got pulled to one side for a serious conversation starting "Son, have you been drinking tea again?".
Of course this moved on to proper cigarettes. Being highly unpopular at school this allowed me to hang out with some of the cooler kids which surely is worth risking your life, and developing a lifelong addiction for, right? I started on Marlboro reds. Probably because I was a bit of a Guns 'N' Roses fan, and pretty much bummed Slash. It's likely that this is the reason that I have a voice not dissimilar to the low rumble of a large plane making its final approach, and why early morning it operates on a level only audible to woodland creatures.
My first experience of being caught smoking came after a party at the local football club. I walked home with friends, paranoid that my parents would smell it on my breath. I had no mints, no gum, the only thing I found in my pocket was a lemon flavoured chapstick. So I ate it. I popped my head into the lounge when I got home, made some lame excuses about being tired, and was about to head off to bed when my Mother demanded a kiss goodnight. All my hard work eating a little lemon flavoured lump of grease was undone in that kiss on the cheek. The following morning my Father had "that" conversation with me about it while I was making coffee. Luckily, the night before, neither of them noticed that I had drunk so much that if I wasn't holding onto the lounge door handle for dear life I would have fallen over and would most likely still be there now waiting for the room to stop spinning.
Smoking causes blindness. A warning on NZ cigarette packets. Although having a big fuckoff metal contraption shoved headlong into one of your peepers can't really help much either.
I got caught again a few years later. It was the early hours of the morning and I had just got in from work. Probably around 2 a.m. Maybe later. I was lying in bed and decided rather than go downstairs and outside, the folks who were in the room next to mine would be fast asleep so would never know if I just popped my head out the window and had a sly one. So there I sat, with my head out the window, every so often glancing to my right to make sure there was no activity in my parents window. About halfway through the cigarette I was shocked to glance over and see my Mothers face starting back at me. I then did what any sensible person would do under the circumstances. Balanced the cigarette on the windowsill, closed the window, and jumped back into bed and pretended to be asleep. It didn't work. Parents are apparently way too intelligent to fall for that.
And so since then it has been on and off. Mostly on, sometimes off. And I go through stages, as I'm sure we all do, of loving it, hating it, loving it again. All the times before I have tried to quit, I have never looked at it very objectively. Instead of telling myself it has been x amount of time since my last cigarette, I end up convincing myself that when I eventually cave, it's going to be fucking awesome. Like my first ever one all over again.
I quit last winter for about a week, then went on a night out. I was close to buying a packet when I was pretty damn wasted, and talked myself out of it. But then ended up getting one off the taxi driver. I sat on the steps of my flat smoking the whole thing down to the filter and it was amazing. Absolutely amazing. At one point I thought my eyeballs were having an orgasm. They weren't, of course. Delirious with ecstasy I fumbled around in the house trying to find the toilet which I knew was somewhere on the right. Somehow I ended up in the shower cubicle fully clothed, and still trying to find the light switch ended up turning the shower on instead. I was standing in the shower, getting drenched from head to toe, and I didn't care. There's a warning they should put on the packets.
I've tried various things to quit. I read Allen Carr's book but that didn't work. I can be an obstinate dick sometimes, so when he screams at me in the text that I WILL give up by the end of the book, I stubbornly fold my arms like a petulant child, stamp my feet all the while screaming "WON'T", and rip out the page with his face on it and use it to make a smoke. I've figured if I smoke way too much I will get sick of it and never want to do it again. Of course that one didn't work. I tried carrot sticks last season. They didn't light very well. And I ate about a kilo of them in 2 hours which led to crippling stomach cramps and orange poo. Nicotine gum worked out way too expensive. It was cheaper to chew normal gum and smoke a cigarette at the same time. I have thought about buying tobacco and papers instead, and this one is foolproof because a) I am way too lazy to roll up a ciggie, and b) I can't roll up to save my life anyway. But no, cold turkey is the only method that has led to any success so far in my life, so I may stick with that, with a massive side order of gummi bears to keep my mind and mouth occupied.
So after a few months of weakness, I am going to try and quit again. Declaring it within my blog will mean at least 3 other people now know of my intention, which may be a bit more pressure, but as winter is now pretty much over, most of the ski hills are closed or closing very soon, and as town quietens down for the summer and people begin to leave, there is nowhere near as much partying to be done. Which means less drinking. And less people with little common sense to deal with as I become more and more cranky. Like the guy who called in one afternoon to declare that he had just seen a weather report on the television which said it would be raining at the Remarkables the following day, and wanted to ask me if that was true. I guess I should be flattered that he relied on my opinion more than a professional meteorologist, however I can't help feeling my input would have been pointless. By far the biggest hurdle will be at the staff party this season on Friday, which has a theme of retro ski gear. God knows how I am going to come up with something offensive to go along as this year, but it does say costume optional so I figure I may just go without a costume. Or any clothes at all. With the amount of alcohol likely to be floating about, it will be tough. But hopefully quitting should lead to expanding the capacity of my lungs once again. It's been fun once more, but as much as I love them sometimes, I have to get them out of my life. They are a drain on finances. They slowly but surely kill you.
And most importantly, they contribute highly to the consumption of lip moisturizer.