Twenty-seven years ago. Hubs and I were on the cusp of something huge! Two biggies, actually. We were a few months away from becoming first time grandparents. Yikes, we were young. And we’d been gearing up mentally and emotionally for a difficult moment for months. No years, really. Why May 5? Well, I didn’t know it would be exactly the 5th, but had decided Tareyton’s had ruled this chick’s life long enough. Over half of my life at that point, about 25 years. I’m still convinced I was born to be a smoker.
|Exquisite Ariana in 1992…|
The 5th dawned like a perfect spring day. I warned John, “this is it!” From my last carton, down to my last pack, I had about 10 cigarettes left. Then we were quitting for good. I was worried about Hubs cough and so sick and tired of listening to him hack 24/7. Only one of us quitting was not the answer if this marriage was to continue on it’s merry path of longevity. I knew to ensure success we had to quit together. I nervously tried to space and enjoy my last day of smoking.
|Pretty sure I was the only smoking cheerleader in RV, 1966…|
It was odd the different way we smoked. Hubs was a nervous or unaware smoker. If he finished his meal before anyone else, he thought nothing of lighting up at the table. And he was not loyal to any brand. If he stopped at a store for smokes and they were out of what ever brand he was laying claim to that week, he’d just ask the clerk to hand him a pack of anything. No loyalty what-so-ever. He’d switch from Marlboro to some weird off brand menthol and not think anything of it. What kind of dedicated smoker does that? Freak. Where the heck were his taste buds? Probably dead or smoldering in purgatory after smoking 3 packs a day. Plus he smoked weird. He might be working on a project in the garage and light up a cigarette, only to realize he already had one lit and half gone in the ashtray. Me, on the other hand was more, this is my relaxation time. I made it a point to sit down somewhere, take a load off for ten minutes. And I was true to my brand of Tareyton’s until the day I quit. (I rarely ran out of cigarettes. If a 3 day blizzard was in the forecast 6 months down the pike, I was prepared. With enough Tareyton’s and food in the house for a small army. Although I’d happily cook and share any and all food, just try and snag one of my Tareyton’s and you’d likely be missing several digits off that offensive hand. If for some reason I was running low, I would have stopped at a dozen stores looking for my brand, rather than buy another. There was no switching brands gene in me. Hokey pete, I’d rather fight than switch.
|Might have packed on a few pounds, 1997…|
I don’t believe we even had a cordless phone yet. Plus my hearing was still spot on and I loved yakking on the phone. If the phone rang, I always wanted to be ready for a possible half hour conversation. Since I was born wearing a flannel shirt, I always kept my pack of Tareyton’s in my pocket. I’d tap my pocket as the phone was ringing to make sure my BFF (Tareyton is better-charcoal is why. I was a big supporter of the coal industry) were where they’re supposed to be for a possible long-haul call. My left boob suffered immeasureably after I quit smoking, getting smacked where my trusty pack of Tareyton’s resided for years. I should have bought a boob-pocket-protector.
|We can smile again, 2000…|
I calculated I would run out of Tareyton’s around supper time. Didn’t think about John’s numbers, but he sure was smoking a lot that day. Why? Because he cheated. He always smoked 3 cigarettes to my one. He knew he was gonna run out way before me so he snuck to the gas station. What a low down, lousy thing to do. I was so ticked, I could have popped him one in the nose when I realized he had bought another pack. Still, Hubs with a whole pack and me down to my last 5, we ended up running out about the same time. You seeing what I’ve had to deal with for 47 years?
|Lip balm folks, not a Tareyton, 2003…|
Some form of hell was in store for this mostly happily married couple after our last meal without a smoke for dessert. We were insufferable to each other for a big share of 1990. Insomnia was the worst side effect for me. It lasted for months. It was truly amazing however, how fast my sense of smell returned. Considering I never knew it was gone in the first place. It was like getting a dog’s sensitive nose for the first month. I could smell someone 4 houses away fart and tell you exactly what they had eaten. Kinda gross really. Not the best conversation starter at the block party either that summer. Neighbors all thought I was stalking them because I knew what they ate and if they were gassy, when I hadn’t seen them for 2 weeks. Along with my super sensitive sniffer, my lackluster taste buds started multiplying like backyard bunnies.
|Not missing all those cartons of smokes much…|
Yowsa, food tasted good after I quit. Everything tasted so good. And I ate it all. All the time. I don’t know if Hubs taste buds were on the same page as mine, although he ate with the same gusto as me. Since he had been a different smoker, he was a different quitter too. He needed something to do after he quit. Kind of a nervous quirk. Chewing gum became his drug of choice. I guess I should be happy he wasn’t chewing tobacco. You know the term ‘hangry?’ I think it’s when you’re hungry and angry at the same time. Or being hungry makes you angry. That was Hubs after he quit. He was hungry like me all the time, but angry too because he couldn’t smoke. He chewed gum (with gusto and very angrily) until the inside of his cheeks looked like raw hamburger. It would take months to break that nasty, painful habit. He even chewed gum when he drank a beer. Yuk. But he never had trouble sleeping at night like I did. So we both gained some unwanted pounds, me about 40 over the next 2 years. Took about that long for John to get rid of his horrible cough too. Still, one of the best things we ever did for ourselves and each other. Never realized how hard quitting would be for either of us. Just don’t see the ramifications when you’re young and dumb and start those deadly, expensive habits.
The year after we quit, we bought a hot tub with the money we would have spent on smokes as a bonus for a job well done. Finally. And we still celebrate our extra anniversary by going out for supper. That date has always been bittersweet for me. One of my dearest friends, Mary Ellen’s birthday was May 5. I did my very best to sweet talk, beg, cajole, tease, and plead with her to stop smoking. But she was never able to give up her life long addiction to smoking and died from lung related issues 4 years ago. I’d like to think she’d be very proud I’ve never fallen off the wagon since quitting that beautiful spring day in early May, 1990. Sadly, Mary Ellen, (biggest diehard Cub fan ever) never had the chance to watch our beloved Cubs win the World Series last November. I’m sure she watched it on the big screen with The Man upstairs. In the smoking section of course…
|Mary Ellen about 1990…|