I read an article about incorporating healthier life options in 2023. Top on the list was to quit smoking which flooded my head with some vivid, smokey memories. The last carton of Tareyton’s (I’d rather fight than switch) I bought at Meijer was in April of 1990 at a cost of $10.60 (which is now the approximate cost of a pack-not a carton of smokes. Yikes).
Hubs was 42 and hacking constantly. I knew he couldn’t quit if I didn’t, but I wouldn’t quit until that carton was gone. I plugged along with my pack-a-day and puffed my last smoke before supper on May 5, 1990. That morning Hubs had rifled through my pack before he left for work, checking how many I had left since he was down to zero. You would have thought he would just quit but he didn’t want me smoking all day if he was already in the throes of withdrawal so he stopped and bought 2 packs to get him through his day. (which irked me more than it should have).
John wasn’t a fussy smoker but rarely snitched from my stash because he disliked Tareyton’s and thought they were dry as a popcorn fart. Yet if the gas station/party store was out of his first choice he just buy another brand where I would go to a dozen stores until I came across more Tareyton’s.
When John got home, I was smoking my last and he still had a couple left. You think all smokers are alike but that’s not true. Hubs and I were the exact opposites when it came to smoking. He was a high strung/stress smoker who didn’t realize he had a lit cigarette in his hand and another one half gone in the ashtray. On the other hand I considered myself a relaxed smoker. I wanted to sit down-undisturbed for 8 minutes and enjoy that nail in my coffin.
One of the points of the article was recognizing and managing your triggers when you’re trying to quit. This is probably true for most ill advised habits we indulge in, whether it’s overeating, booze or smoking. Something triggers us, but it’s not always for those previously mentioned bad habits. A Beatles/Doors/Beach Boys song lyric can immediately transport (trigger) me to John’s maroon ‘65 Impala when we were dating. Somewhere around our Iowa hometown, in the middle of a cornfield, away from the rest of the world-at least for a little while. That car had a great bench seat which is as much as I should say on the subject.
However my biggest smoking trigger was hearing the phone ring. I know it sounds crazy and any young person will not understand this odd behavior. Imagine, if you will, no cell phone, caller ID or answering machine. When the phone rang you didn’t know who was on the other end. Generally it was for one of the kids but before I lost my hearing our stationary landline was important and I enjoyed phone conversations immensely.
But once you answered that call you were stuck there for the duration of that conversation. Oh you might be able to walk a couple feet with a stretchy cord but not much further. If it was a friend or my mom there might be a fair amount of time spent after my first ‘hello.’ And you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a lengthy conversation without your cigarettes or lighter, resulting in a nicotine fit.
I was born during the winter-in Iowa. In a nutshell I’ve been cold since that day. Oh the summers were hot & humid but with air conditioning in most businesses (but not in our homes during the ‘60’s or ‘70’s). I started smoking as a teen. Smoking restricts your blood vessels which made my hands, feet and arms even colder. I’ve worn a long sleeved flannel shirt over a top since forever. My beloved flannel shirts (I have a dozen) sport pockets which is where my pack of smokes and Bic lighter lived. Out of habit of not getting caught without my trusty smokes (on my person) at all times, I always smacked my hand on the pocket. Just to be sure.
Whenever the phone rang and none of the kids screamed, “I’ll get it,” my knee jerk reaction was to smack my left boob pocket for my cigarettes before hustling to the phone. After we quit it was months before I could answer the phone without hitting myself in the chest. Hubs had his own way of dealing with life in a non-smoking world. He chewed gum with a vengeance. For months the inside of his mouth looked like he’d been attacked by a school of piranha.
Besides better health there were many advantages once we quit. The world/house/my clothes smelled wonderful (so did I), food tasted fantastic (yes I gained weight). No more holes burned into clothing, teeth were whiter and maybe my extremities were a degree or 2 warmer-but not much.
I’m still cold most of the time. I wear wool socks 7 months a year, and a flannel shirt 360 days a year-at least. In the dead of winter I’m sit under a heated throw, wear 2 layers under my flannel shirt, but I’m comfy. You probably wonder why we would ever move from a cold Midwest state to another cold Midwest state? Our kids, grands (Landon is in college 3 hours away) and great-granddaughter all live within an hour of us. Thus, here I sit and shiver…