To Smoke or Not to Smoke

My friend Kelly hasn’t smoked a cigarette for 75 days. After thirty-seven years of the puffing habit, she is proud of herself.
Chantix helped. Wanting to quit helped more. Wanting better health and to be a good role model for her kids helped the most.
Kelly craves a cigarette after finishing a meal. It’s a comfortable ritual that she misses.
I tried smoking as a teen, since my friends did. It tasted terrible. All I did was cough. There was no looking cool for the next fifteen minutes while I hacked up a lung.
I tried smoking again in college. I couldn’t stay awake to study late and hadn’t yet figured out that I was a morning person. Everyone stayed up till midnight. Why couldn’t I? I’d tried everything else. One night I made a cup of cocoa to wake up (bad idea) and as I sat on the floor in my sorority house, surrounded by my sisters, I fell asleep and poured that cup of cocoa all over my robe.
I thought that maybe smoking would keep me awake. But it didn’t. All I did was fall asleep and set my notes on fire. I could’ve burned down the house. I took that pack of cigarettes and left it on a table at the student union for some poor college kid to find.
My grandpa smoked a pipe. My dad’s buddy, Omar, smoked cigars. I enjoyed the pipe smoke but ran from the room when the cigars were lit. Mostly Omar just chewed on it.
My parents didn’t smoke. I didn’t like dating smokers, because I didn’t want to kiss them. My friends are all trying to quit now.
Hardly anyone smokes in public now., It’s not cool. There are laws. But people still do it. When I swing dance with Tom, my hands stink like his cigarettes. When I walk my dogs I see cigarette butts in the street gutters where workers have dumped them. Cigarette butts are at the beach , too, nature’s giant ashtray.
Kelly’s son doesn’t smoke cigarettes, although his friends vape.
Kelly has already saved a lot of cash by not buying cigarettes. Her sense of smell is coming back. She can taste food again. She is worried she will fall back into the habit in six months or a year. She has seen other people do that.
One day at a time, Kelly.
If the urge is too great, you could always try a cup of cocoa, or you could chew on a cigar.

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