Butt Out

Scene from “The Royal Tenenbaums” involving Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her mother Ethel Tenenbaum (Anjelica Huston):

(Margot lights up cigarette in hospital waiting room)

Ethel: How long have you been a smoker?

Margot: 22 years.

Ethel: Well, I think you should quit.


So here comes my royal confession: like Margot, I’ve been a closet smoker as well, and I’m nearing on 22 years myself. It’s been an on/off relationship as I’ve managed to quit a few times, but lately I’ve been blazing a half pack or more a day, and I’m officially done. Here is my private smoking life, displayed for you all to see:

Age 18 – Drops out of college and becomes a raver. Ravers loved to smoke menthol cigarettes because they enhance, um, things. I started with only smoking here and there, maybe a pack a week. Brand of choice: Marlboro Menthol Light.

Age 21 – Goes to Paris, France with a friend who also smoked. The laissez-faire cigarette culture of France was romantic and cool in my young stupid eyes. I started smoking like a fiend and switched to a “classier” pack. Brand of choice: Benson & Hedges Menthol Ultralight.

Age 22 – I had already met and was with my ex-husband, who smoked Marlboro Lights. I lost my taste for menthol and was up to a solid pack a day. Brand of choice: Marlboro Ultralight.

Age 27 – I was down to a half pack again, and after a small breakup with the ex, I decided to shift back into a different brand to suit my new single self. The recessed filter on these cigarettes are something I’ll forever miss. Brand of choice: Parliament Silver Pack.

Age 32 – I quit because my son was born. Cold turkey. No issues.

Age 35-present: It’s been rough. I started back in when we were having marital issues – usually just 3 or 4 a night. Then I would quit and tell myself things like “only on vacations, or when I go the casino.” Finally, I caved in after the actual divorce and got back up to a half pack a day again. Brand of choice, forever: Parliament Silver Pack. 

First of all let me say – I think I’m completely disgusting. Second, I’m working on that as I type, and will reveal to you my plan. Third, I have no choice – I need to be on earth as long as possible for my son, end of story. So, I visited my surgeon last week (for my upcoming hernia surgery, read: Panic! at the Household ), and he basically put me on full blast. He’s gay, which I love, because I’m very comfortable around him, and if anybody is going to be cutting up my parts, that’s paramount. He essentially said he wouldn’t operate on me until I quit. He then went on to walk me down to an acupuncturist and helped me book an appointment. No one has ever taken that much interest in my quitting except for myself, so I had to listen.

My philosophy is going to be this – and I borrowed a little bit of it from Alcoholics Anonymous but what the hell:

  • Don’t remember my quit date. I already don’t. It was sometime last week – unsure of which day.
  • Every day I wake up, don’t think of it as an accumulation of days I have quit, rather it’s a new day, and I don’t smoke. That way there’s no anniversaries to celebrate by relapsing.
  • Avoid social smoking situations until I’m completely strong enough to be around them.
  • Every time I want to have a cigarette, I’m going to look at pictures of my son.
  • Again, it’s one day at a time. Every day is independent of each other, so each day is a challenge.
  • And soon enough, I won’t think about cigarettes as much as I am now. And after that I won’t think about them at all, or just rarely. So these 5 things will become easier with time – how amazing is that? Also, I won’t have ashtray breath, which will enormously boost my confidence and drastically reduce my Altoids intake. I’ve done this before and I can do this now. The timing will always be bad, but the reasons for quitting outweigh that greatly. I want my son to have his Daddy around for an ungodly amount of time, so I will do anything to make that happen.

    Posted by Frank Lowe

    Frank Lowe is a former stay-at-home dad, best known for his online persona “gay-at-home-dad.” Now a twice-published author, find his books on Amazon!

    Website: https://www.somepeopledo.com

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