I started smoking when I was 17 and a freshman in college. I smoked more and more every year. By the time I was 37, I was religiously making my way through two and a half packs a day. My clothes smelled of smoke, my fingertips were tinged with yellow and my teeth were none too white. Goodness knows about my breath.
When I was an airplane passenger, I’d sit with my unlit cigarette positioned in my right hand, waiting anxiously for the no smoking sign to stop glowing. I smoked up a storm in the finest restaurants, before, during and after the meal. I’m not sure I tasted anything but the smoke during all that time. I smoked when I was pregnant. I swore I couldn’t write a word unless I had a cigarette in my mouth or near it.
If I ran out of cigarettes in the evening and the stores were all closed, I’d rummage through the pail for salvageable butts. My former husband, who didn’t smoke, kept secret stashes of cartons when I reached a state of desperation.
One of my oldest FOF friends developed cancer of the larynx when she was in her thirties. It was a result of excessive smoking and drinking. This was the same friend who introduced me to martinis. I drank plenty of those, too. Fortunately, my pal caught the cancer in time and she’s still with us.
I stopped smoking 25 years ago. I vaguely remember my little son telling me to, but I’m not sure if that was the impetus. I went to one hypnosis session and haven’t touched a cigarette ever since. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. If you’ve ever smoked as much as I did, then stopped, you’d probably agree.
Although my chest x-rays look good every year, I still worry that I’ll develop lung cancer as a result of my nasty habit. I also wish my daughter would stop smoking but I know she’ll have to decide that herself. There are some pretty gruesome anti-smoking campaigns on TV now. I’m not so sure they would have influenced me.