Tobacco is what happens when God and the Devil make a deal . . .

Brad Pitt SmokingIn the event of a Zombiegeddon, I’m going with three musts haves for the ‘ole backpack- A Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum, a bottle of Knob Creek and a carton of Marlboro Reds. The first two are negotiable, the smokes ain’t. Not at the end of the world.

Okay, please indulge me as I throw down my take on the Walking Dead season finale. It’s been a while . . .

Walking Dead Season Finale Review

Who DIDN’T think Terminus was gonna be a bad idea? I liken season 4 to blue cheese crumbles; fragments of intense flavor but really more tease than please. That’s why I liked how the finale sets up next season. Now that we’re done with the personal vignettes which helped to ease our separation anxiety from the group dynamic, the band is (mostly) back together, with a few interesting additions.  

Now things go darker. No more sixteen candles, no more gardening, no more playing around. 

The almost rape/murder scene was a sobering reminder that these peeps are far removed from the age of PTO and Dairy Queen. Rick acted quite reasonably when he went all Jack Bauer on ring leader Joe and then gutted his henchman. This is the Rick I want to see, this is the Rick the group needs. Hell, this is the Rick the show needs.

Absent the Governor,- who received short shrift as far as I’m concerned- I’m hopeful Gareth ups the ante as the group’s arch-nemesis. I’m thankful the writers created this unique character, free of any shackles created by the comic book story. What madness will he mete (or meat?) out? I’m thinking that it’s time to advance from the bad ass with a cause- Shane to the Governor (two of my favorite characters)- and unleash true evil on the group. If only to see whether Rick will cook his black heart or eat it raw. Okay, enough cannibal references.

All I know for certain is that Rick was right. They screwed with the wrong group. I hope the prize fight goes fifteen rounds this time.

Okay, back to the smoking post . . .

As a former smoker, I can tell you that you’re only as good as your last smoke. Smoking will always have a part of me- the part of me that is less simple . . . that stands on the ledge and spits . . . that curses the fates and its threatening wreck of siblings . . the part of me that is adrift in the muck of human weakness and is not looking for a life preserver.

Yanno, the fun part.

One of the negatives of smoking is that it takes time away from other activities- like eating, drinking and having sex. So you should learn to multi-task. 

This isn’t to say that my battle with nicotine is an effort in futility. To the contrary. It’s a worthwhile lesson in perseverance, assembled across the unraveling and the tight of my waking hours. It’s my daily allowance of contrition. While getting better at something requires effort, getting stronger at something requires an intimate knowledge of abject failure. I appreciate the Zen of missed targets.

Quitting isn’t hard, In fact, it’s one of the easiest things about smoking. Staying quit? That there’s the unabridged, uncensored version of what I’m trying to say.


I’ve quit the habit for days, weeks, months and years. In my late teens I smoked frequently. In my twenties, barely at all. When thirty happened, I became contemplative and stressed. Smoking helped repair the moments with vicious intimacy. My forties have proven a mixed bag.

Smoking is like organized crime; once you’re in, it’s really difficult to extricate yourself from the involvement. Separation brings pain, denial, anger, hopelessness, depression and lots of shit you shouldn’t be eating. That’s a pretty good day, actually. The bad days are radioactive enchiladas served up by the Manson clan.

My latest sabbatical might have been going on two years but for a momentary lapse back in August when I bought a pack. The special occasion which brought me back into the fold was neither special nor an occasion. It was just a late summer day when the need went stupid and the idea of matchmaking my Sam Adams with a smoke seemed like the best idea in the history of best ideas. Inside this moment of weakness, I literally torched over a year’s worth of equity. And to make matters worse, it was fan-fucking-tastic.

One cigarette can get you hooked. So don’t stop there. 

With smoking, sometimes it’s stress that calls you back. Sometimes it’s a celebratory mood. And sometimes it’s just a late summer afternoon when a harmless thought becomes your habit again. So on April 22nd, I’ll celebrate two years of mostly smoke-free living. Except for the August thing . . . and the smoke I had at a birthday party back in February . . and last Friday night I had one that I really didn’t enjoy . . . and you know what? That’s okay, because it keeps me humble and when it comes to breaking habits, humility is a resourceful guide.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, forget everything I said and stay out of my way. Unless you’re hauling Twinkies.


23 thoughts on “Tobacco is what happens when God and the Devil make a deal . . .

  1. Fantastic post. I spent 35 of the happiest years with my pal Nic. hated to give him up but did 22 years ago. (Come to think of it that was the last time I had a really good Tanqueray on the rocks with two olives) I never fell out of love with Nic, just a more or less permanent separation. Maybe in my final year I’ll grab a pack of Nat Sherman’s, Pall Malls or Players Navy Cut and trip out smiling. Two kinds of people I don’t trust. Those who don’t drink and let you know it and those who have never been addicted to anything.

    • Hey Papa- This is why I love you. I just got done giving you my two cents (Okay, it wasn’t worth that much) on your blog. And yes, the smokes with the drink . . that’s some true love right there. My solution used to be a vodka martini (blue cheese stuffed olives) and a smoke on the happy side. Awesome stuff.
      And yes again. If someone tells me they have never been addicted to something? I call 911 on their ass.

  2. I never could get into this series. Something about how slow they are, but they have the ability to sneak up on everyone and then bite their faces off!
    I only smoked about 10 cigarettes in my life. My vice at the end of the zombie apocalypse? Chocolate….yum….

    • Colorado- The Walking Dead series was inspired by Congress. Really, it was.
      And lemme tell ya, those ten cigarettes you smoked? That’s a story right there. You are sexy goodness. Chocolate does rock. I’m going out shortly for some, THANKS!
      PS- Can’t blame you. I’ve always had the sickness.

  3. An RN, I worked in healthcare for thirty years. Smoking was the way I pulled myself away from the anxiety and drama of the series of painful and emotional crises I was dealing with on an hourly basis. Every couple of hours we (I say we because so many of my coworkers shared my coping mechanism) would step outside to meditate and reflect over a smoke. I have NEVER smoked indoors. Then came the new rules: not only was there no smoking on the premises, employees could not smoke, period (yes there are tests for this). So I quit. Then, in 7 months I gained 60 pounds. I did not change my eating habits. I had a light breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, NO snacks, a mod supper with meat and vegetables, no starches, no desert except for the very rare treat of an ice cream cone. My doctor said my body cells were just happier and healthier and wanted to multiply. I suffered SEVERE anxiety. My psychiatrist put me on anti-anxiety meds, which made me gain more weight. I longed for a cigarette. The anxiety became so severe that I became disabled from work. I started smoking again. Now I am a disabled, overweight smoker, addicted to psychiatric drugs who stays home and writes novels. When I feel like it, I step outside on my porch and have a cigarette. So that’s my story. The devil has my soul.

    • SK- This is not an easy thing, which is why I cannot ‘quit’. I want to, but it doesn’t work that way with me. I have never quit anything that gave me peace of any kind. I mean no disrespect with this post. I just need humor to tell my story. Man, do I need it.

      • Haha! I was trying to be funny with my own response, really I was…probably didn’t come across as such. You wouldn’t be the first person that didn’t didn’t get my humor.

        That I would need my smokes so much that I would give up a career to get that peace of mind is both sad, and hilarious.

        It was time for me anyway…I’m just offering an excuse. 🙂 I am VERY HAPPY with my retirement novel writing hobby 🙂 AND the fact that I can have both a margarita and a smoke anytime I choose:)

        • SK- I was just checking. Despite my gruff manner, I’m really a teddy bear. And oh yes, a beverage of choice and a smoke . . . oh yes. You’re doing just fine, SK, keep up the great work.

  4. Sorry to get all “groupie” on you here, but you had me at Zombiegeddon. Does it make me a bad mama that my son and I left an informational community drug awareness meeting so we could make it home for the season finale??? It’s okay. You don’t really have to answer that.

    Seriously though, I get so sucked in to whatever you write. Whether it’s something I know (Walking Dead) or don’t know (smoking) your words beck and call and just flow so easily.
    PLUS…when I saw cutie Kacey Musgraves singing one of my favorite songs…well, groupie status is now in stone.


    PS: The post I referenced was about a former friend of yours. Eric Lindros? I’ll have to look it up when I have time (I have dinner cooking in the oven, too!) Seems like the last couple of paragraphs in that post really struck. I promise to be back 🙂

    • Mama- Hey, you WENT to the meeting. Now . . I might have gone to a meeting like this if there was food- really good food- involved. And a movie, about something other than drug awareness. Okay, I should have taken your advice and not answered that one. And I consider myself very fortunate to have you here, reading my stuff and getting ‘sucked in’. Your positive outlook- with that perfect blend of mad mama genius- is always the tonic. I’m finding “Walking” fans everywhere nowadays, which is cool.
      “Groupie” all you want. This is a ‘groupie friendly’ establishment. Rock on!

  5. As a pack-a-day smoker, it’s those three or four cigarettes per pack that are great smokes. Problem is I have to go through the other 15+ to find them…

  6. Fellow groupie chiming in…

    Spoiler alert….

    With buried weapons and Carol still free, I think Carol may turn into the next Incredible Hulk. I enjoyed the season, but, yawn, I’m glad to see Rick back to being Rick. Glad to see you’re a Shane fan too. He was my fave.

    Sounds like your nicotine is very similar to my alcohol. I wonder sometimes if I would start drinking again if zombies happened. It certainly turned me into the Hulk, anger-wise. Twinkies could probably do the same though.

    I thought it interesting in TWD, (at least) two characters are (were) alcoholic, and they both slipped at different points. Then dusted themselves off and got back on the wagon. I guess even in event of zombie apocalypse, life goes on, right? Ya know, that whole hello/goodbye thing going on….

    Enjoyed this one. I love all your posts, but especially the ones on the human strain and condition. Good stuff.

    • Runner- I am so waiting for Carol to sweep in and save the day. Don’t change a thing in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you have the good mojo going now and that’s what it’s all about. I like you just the way you are, and no, I’m not stealing Billy Joel’s thunder on this sentiment.
      And I borrowed that hello/goodbye thing. Much thanks for the inspiration.

    • The Governor was one of my favorites, I mean zombie heads in fishtanks? How could you not love him?

      Carol will save them all, or Beth will (just kidding! The terminus crew prolly already ate Beth 😉 )

      As to the smoking portion – I still smoke, I plan to quit, I always plan to quit. Planning and doing though… If I ever succeeded in it come any form of apocalypse I’d probably throw that in my “must have” bag. But don’t tell Christy 😉

      • CK- I agree wholeheartedly about the zombie head fishtank. A character like that . . you GOTTA keep him around for a tad longer. I am in Carol withdrawal. I would let that pistol toting mama lead my cavalry anytime.
        You can get there with the smokes. Every time I light up one of those tasty little buggers, that Semisonic tune comes to mind . . .Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
        PS- Tell Christy what? . . .:)

  7. I’ll make this brief because all this talk about cigarettes is bringing back too many memories. I’ve never seen one episode of Walking Dead, I smoked 3 packs of butts a day but haven’t lit up since Elton John had hair, and I love Kacie Musgraves because she reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence.

    • Fantasy Man- 3 packs a day, wow. I was more of a social to extremely social smoker. I only smoked a pack in one day a couple times in my life. Usually much less than that.

      • Mother, father, sister, step father all smoked in the house and car (no windows open). It was a natural thing for me to do especially because my mom smoked while she was pregnant too.
        Six years in the Air Force didn’t help either….haven’t had a cigarette I’m proud to say since Valentines Day of 1988!!

        • Fantasy Man- Six years Air Force? God bless you. And thank you for your service, from the bottom of my heart. And hey, you just recently celebrated 26 years on the much better side of the ledger. Way.To.Go.

  8. Both my parents smoked when I was growing up, and I used to take their cartons of Winstons and break all the cigs in half. Boy, did I catch hell for that. I am not a statistic, though, as I don’t smoke and never wanted to, despite being exposed to it my whole childhood and adolescence. I tried once on a dare, and I promptly threw up. I’m a wuss.

    My mom is on oxygen and partly because she was a heavy smoker. Hell, she smoked corn silk when she was around 9 years old. She didn’t have a fighting chance.

    Stay strong, Cayman.

    • Bahstan- Glad you never picked up the habit. I truthfully do not think I will ever truly leave it, but that’s not set in stone. Corn silk? My goodness, that sounds harsh.
      I thought of you and yours yesterday, Boston. (Yeah, for this I spell it right). Boston Strong baby, and you always will be.

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