Throughout the start of my 30's, I've begun to realise that I should cut down, if not end, my four vices. At the time of writing, I've ended two of them, haven't had time to indulge in the third and the fourth...well, f*** that noise if you can a. figure out what it is and b. actually try to stop me.
Smoking, one of the two, came to its demise last month prior to Christmas when I took up going to the pharmacy and applying for the Stop-Smoking Programme.
I did quite enjoy gaining a new story to divulge to audiences as the lady behind the counter that dished out my patches like candy has no chin, but equally I am grateful to her for helping me break the habit, despite no real extra effort on her part (she didn't tie me down and approach my naked gentilia with hot coals....for example), but she represents my desire to breathe easily.
Yes, ironically I like breathing.
But over the past few weeks I've realised that not actually smoking, for an introvert, is pretty much the death of "something to do". Lighting up meant having to get off your butt, going outside and looking out at the people that walk past, the clouds in the sky, the birds that fly past.
Socialising has also been given the heave-ho. Traditionally I knew exactly where I was with a smoker, no matter what his or her background was. That person could've been a homicidal maniac with megalomanic tendencies towards ginger gerbals, but at least he had a lighter.
I worry now about how I smell, both my breath, body odour and clothes. Before I only had to kiss someone and feel very self-conscious if they choked on my Golden Virginia vibes, and the quickest and easiest solution was a stick of gum and that's that. NOW, a miriad plethora of substances ranging from pasta, coffee, chocolate, underground congestion, and even second-hand smoke, threaten and bombard my mouth cavity that I even say to myself, "Bugger me, have I been throat-f***ed by pollution?"
My teeth look shinier. This is new.
My clothes used to range in the smell-O-meter between chimney and light forest fire. NOW I cater for the sweat-shop hustle everytime I run for the bus, meaning I carry a small can of "please don't walk away from me" deodorant in my bag, meaning I ALWAYS have to carry a bag just for the damn thing in case a date or a gig oozes moisture out of my bits and infects my G-Star Raw jacket.
Before my morning routine consisted of a coffee, some cereal and a cigarette. Now, it's 40 pushups and situps, a stronger coffee, BERRIES in my cereal and watching BBC Mornings News, and feeling good. What is this "feeling good" that has been so bloody alien to me it might as well asked me for my number and taken me on a date???"
So, here I am. Sitting here. Bored. During off-times I would roll cigarettes so they'd be ready for the times I didn't have a free moment, or if it was windy. Now, I stare out into space as I twiddle with a piece of paper wishing I could set it on fire.
Before, I could look forward to my lunch hour when I could walk down the street, breathing in those happy carbon monxide fumes and be all "Steve McQueen" with my polo shirt and attitude. Now, I'm just a douchebag, a boring inundated douchebag.
I can now smell things more easily than before. This disturbs me.
It's like, I'm trying to reinvent myself, a middle-aged personality in an adult's body, but instead of buying a Ferrari and wearing a toupee, I'm swapping cool opacity for lung capacity.
No one will ask me, "Nelson, fancy going outside for a fag?" and I can't retort, "No, but I'll have a cigarette."...that bullcrap amused me.
I cannot be approached by lovely French girls asking me for a light. Yes, this happened, and yes, I enjoy a good friendship with her to this day. But woe is me that I will never have this film noir moment ever occur EVER AGAIN.
Gone will be the days now where I could slouch on the couch watching re-runs of Star Trek while ripping up bits of Rizla paper and constructing my own map of the galaxy on the coffee table. Instead, all remaining cigarette wrappings have been donated to the walking charity outside our London Underground station, and I bet you in the future he will still ask me for a cigarette, raspy voice and all.
I miss putting something in my mouth...and not feeling homophobic about saying that.
To all the smokers still living your life as YOU SEE FIT! Don't give up because it's now sociably acceptable. Enjoy your time! Live your days smelling less of artichoke and more of James Dean or Audrey Hepburn.
Lean against a nearby wall with a loosey hanging from your mouth in defiance against health-mongerers!
Sit in a dark room with strangers and be the centre of attention when your Zippo goes off...everyone will notice you.
Enjoy it...while it lasts. And only give up when you want to...like I did.
*Disclaimer: this blog has been written after three cups of coffee in one hour and may be subject to scrutiny by many people, including my mother.*