Friday, May 6, 2011

And Curse Sir Walter Raleigh

I stopped smoking on 30 September 1996-I can remember the day and the time (twenty minutes after one in the afternoon) because I was paying an office call on the elected head of the city government where I live, Norwich CT, back in the day when the office was 'City Council President' (but dinosaurs no longer roamed the earth).

I was looking to enlist his support on a bond initiative to spend millions on technological infrastructure in the public school system. Despite what I had been told, he was a more than willing ear and a strong ally in what proved to be a successful referendum. Calming myself down as I waited outside of City Hall before our appointment I chain smoked as I had done since taking up the habit at some point in my sophomore year at Rutgers (when dinosaurs did roam the earth).

Interestingly enough, I don't recall when I started smoking--just that I started with Pall Mall (Red) as I'd watched our Dad smoke for many years. I'd always end up with a piece of cut tobacco on my tongue or lips or between my teeth, which was part of the incentive to move to a filter cigarette and through the years I was never what you'd call a brand loyalist.

Overseas in the military, buying tax-free cigarettes in the commissary was perceived as a benefit of being in the Armed Forces. We paid for a carton what a German might buy a pack of cigarettes for so controls were established to discourage a black market (sounds so The Third Man, doesn't it?). In Germany, before reunification, we had ration cards for cigarettes (I think four cartons a month; you could request and receive permission to buy more), as well as for coffee and tea and my personal favorite, 'Solubles.'

The ration cards grouped the latter three together as CTS and I liked to think that it allowed me to consider drowning people I didn't like (assuming there were enough oceans) since, technically, if you hold anything under water long enough it becomes soluble, right? No need to get excited-it's a hypothetical question. So far.

I was tirelessly lobbied by our children, most especially our daughter, to stop smoking and decided as I stubbed out a cigarette just before my City Hall meeting that it had been my last one. I never slipped though I miss smoking every day. I don't miss what I have reason to believe it was doing to me medically though in light of my health since I stopped I sometimes wonder if the nicotine addiction wasn't the lesser of two evils.

I mention all of this because there's been recent news about an upturn in hookah use, and I know Lewis Carroll would chortle at this and paralleling that news note is this discovery I made on-line of these folks with some spooky news of their own. As we used to say after falling out after morning muster, 'smoke 'em if you got 'em' (Cub, who has a best girlfriend anyway?) but don't get too many of 'em, okay?
-bill kenny

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