a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I Walk the Line

Only two things in today's Philly Weekly, but they're each quite a bit lengthy. First, it's the Holiday Guide, so as is the usual drill, I penned a gift guide (of sorts) for those who flood their loved ones with DVDs. (Of course, my idea of a gift-receiver is someone who'd want L'Age d'or.) Also, as ever, there's Rep. Lots of Not-revieweds this time around, if only because the bulkiest entry -- I-House's Italian Film Fest -- resulted in no screeners. Oh well.

Tomorrow, as some of you may be rueing, is the Great American Smokeout, otherwise known as "Annual Belittle a Pathetic Nicotine Addict Day." As I work at a medical campus, there's apparently a big to-do w/r/t it scheduled throughout the day, which I can only interpret as people harrassing and throwing eggs at me whenever I nip out for a break.

As a nic-head going on three-and-a-half years, what gets my panties in a bunch about clean-lungers' isn't simply their unrepentent (in fact, bafflingly unaware) self-righteousness, one of the few prejudices that remains socially acceptable among all races, creeds and political leanings. It's their complete and total inability to understand the seasoned smoker. "Why don't you just quit," I often get, as though that option never entered my cross-hairs and then jumped up and down, waving a big sign that read "Why don't you just quit?" with every word underlined and in italics. It's like those twerps who drive through gay-pride days in a big truck that informs people the bible prohibits what they do: do they think I and my colleagues will see it, stop what we're doing, stare into nothingness, then go, "Oh yeah. Never thought of it that way"?

It's been said that cigarettes are harder to shake than heroin, the underlying principle being that because its effects are long-term and not quite as gruesome, the need to give up is never quite as imminent. Cold turkey has worked for some, sure, but what it does is deprive a smoker of their chief source of nerves-quelling (as well as a mighty oral fixation, to boot -- there's gum and nicotine-flavored toothpicks, but I'm sure most people wind up chewing deep into countless pens). Thusly, these people -- who have built up a profound chemical dependency on it -- freeze up, grow impatient and become, for lack of a better word, total motherfucking assholes. For a month. After that, they get downgraded to "motherfucking assholes," then simply "assholes," which they remain for at least a couple years, if not for the rest of their lives.

I'm in no position to become a total motherfucking asshole, even for a month. In fact, one of the only ways I can write is to puff through countless fags, relieving myself of stress as I ponder over what word to employ next. (Plus, I'm an undiagnosed depressive type. I stress out easily and very neurotically, prone to brood over minutae and worry about anything socially-related.) Should I be convinced by these light-on-their-feet, nosy pricks to quit tomorrow, the first thing I'll do is take another drag and maybe add an extra hour onto my break regime. It will be a long-term thing, spread out over many months, if not even longer.

And, no, nicorette doesn't work for me. Sorry.

And, of course, the most loathsome part of this is when ex-smokers descend upon me, telling me how easy it was for them to shake one of the hardest addictions on the planet. Whenever I get that, I want to blow a long drag in their face, watch them slowly and surely crack under the flashback-induced pain. And then cackle diabolically, of course.

Oh yeah, there is the other side of this: they just want me to get healthy. Thanks for worrying about me. Now fuck off and let me settle my aching bones without any extra guilt.

(That last part doesn't go for people I actually know who've said the same thing to me. I love you all and I'll dedicate a book or something to you one day.)


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