dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Butting In and Out

I am a non-smoker.

I am a smoker.

I am a non-smoker.

I am a smoker.

I am a casual smoker.

I am an occasional smoker.

I am a social smoker.

I am a smoker.

I am a non-smoker.

Are you confused yet? I know I am.

I started smoking when I was...17? I'm pretty sure it was 17... stupid memory. Oh, and here's a story for you, the story of how I started smoking.

Disclaimer: I am WELL aware of how stupid this all is. Please don't feel the need to tell me. I have yet to hear a good reason why someone would start smoking.

When I was 15 I had a crush on an older boy. He had tattoos and piercings; his own apartment; and he flirted with me. He was soooooo cool. I sat in his lap all the time, he held my hand when we walked together, and when his friends all lit up their cigarellas, he would share his with me. Cigarellas are small, flavoured cigars, some have plastic filters, some have paper filters. Smoke, flavour, no nicotine - but all the habit.

For the next couple of years I would smoke these cigarellas whenever I felt the urge to. Mainly for social outings, occassionally I would take the screen off my bedroom window and smoke them on the roof. (My poor parents...sorry Dad!)

When I moved out of my parents' house, I moved into a party house in which we would drink like fish; smoke pot; and of course, the cigarette-smokers would smoke their cigarettes. The cigarellas became a routine again, making an appearance most nights out of the week. I reasoned with myself that they weren't cigarettes so they weren't addictive. There was no nicotine and I could stop smoking them whenever I wanted.

I started my Carpentry Apprenticeship and most of my new friends smoked. In an effort to be actively social with my classmates I bought more and more packs of cigarellas (expensive little buggers) and went outside with everyone during smoke break. I recall Dad finding my Zippo lighter one day, and the only words I could form were: 'It's not for cigarettes'. When the work became stressful (or whichever emotion or excuse someone wanted to voice) we would all pine for smoke break and rush outside in a frenzied mob of togetherness. This burning desire for the friendly break associated with smoking is what finally did me in.

My class went to a big school about an hour outside of our normal one, to use a bigger wood shop with more tools. I brought what was left of my pack of cigarellas (as I would on any other day) and we all left our cars back at the school and took a bus. Being too cool for a coat (or perhaps the weather didn't call for one...I can't remember) I had only my hoodie and my toolbox. When the shop heated up I removed said hoodie and tossed it on top of my toolbox, cigarellas in the hoodie pocket.

Tool after tool refused to work properly for me, my project was taking longer and looking poorer than I wanted. I craved the break, and as such, craved the smoke that was associated with it. Amidst F-bombs and other curse words, flying pieces of frustrated projects, and the clanging of tools being tossed on the ground; you could only hear the murmuring of the impending smoke break. When the time finally came, everyone swarmed towards the doors in a big angry mass. I made a beeline for my hoodie, snatched my pack out, and practically ran to catch up with the others.

Some guys had already lit up, others were passing or fumbling with lighters, but there was a palpable relief in the air. Oh God, I was looking forward to this one. And then I opened my pack.

My best guess is that my hoodie fell off my toolbox...and somebody stepped on it...and then picked it up and put it back on my toolbox.

Dust. They were all dust.

I stared at my dust for a solid fifteen seconds, then put my hand out and said:

"Somebody give me a cigarette. Now."

I smoked six cigarettes that day, and I never smoked less until the first time I quit.

At this point I have probably started smoking and successfully quit five or six times.

I am currently smoke free, but does this mean I will never smoke again? I don't know. I honestly don't know. Smoking is like a small parasite that implants itself in your brain. My parasite attaches itself to feelings of intense stress (mainly the relief of said stress) and fitting in socially.

One thing I do know is that if I ever do start smoking again, I will quit again. And I truly believe that I will quit every time I start. After all, I only need the quitting to stick one time.


Rae said...

I can so relate to this and my story with cigarettes is similar except I never smoked cigarellas. I smoked mostly mentol cigarettes, clove cigarettes, and occasionally black and milds. I even tried a cigar once. I am also currently smoke free and hope to stay that way, but am not sure I will for the rest of my life. I also know I can quit again since I have this time over a year.

Great post about smoking and my smoking also started with a boy I liked. Maybe I will tell my story one day in my blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.

dys·func·tion said...

@Rae: I would love to read your story about smoking. I found it difficult to post mine because I was/am afraid of a negative response. A lot of people that I have spoken to about it are less than understanding. I think it's hard to understand unless you are/have been a smoker.

And boys smell. :P

rapunzel_jo said...

Honestly, I had the same problem. I started smoking when I was old enough to go out to the bars. My best friend at the time gave me one on one of our outtings to get drunk. I was 21 and I wasn't too fond of it. A year before that I had also switched jobs, where 90% of my co-workers smoked rather than the 10% I had previously worked with. I learned if I wanted to take a break (unscheduled of course), a sneak, as we called it, I had to go outside with the smokers. And then to socially fit in and actually earn 'a sneak' I gave in and lit up with the rest.

dys·func·tion said...

@rapunzel_jo: I've had many a conversation that revolved around the 'smoke break'. It's actually quite unfair that to earn an extra five minutes off every now and then you HAVE to smoke. If they offered mini-breaks to EVERY employee (and not just the smokers) perhaps less people would smoke.

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dys·func·tion said...

@Anonymous: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy my style of writing. I don't know if I'd call myself skilled lol, but I'll sure take the compliment! We're glad to have you aboard.