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May 24, 2003 - 7:56 p.m.

Patches

Remember that song from 1970 sung by Clarence Carter? This entry isnít about that.

Hello, my name is John.

Hello, John.

I am a junkie; a nicotine junkie. Iíll carry this damned monkey on my back to my grave. I started smoking when I was 15, because I looked so grown up. Both my parents smoked. Their parents smoked. Generations of excuses.

I quit smoking in 1986, for good I thought. Baby Son1 had bronchial problems and I wasnít helping. It was easy, I just stopped smoking them. I was clean for years, man.

Then my world turned to shit, ten years later. My soon-to-be ex wife wanted out. She started smoking again. I started by stealing cigarettes out of her car, she smoked those God-awful light menthol things. I had to put cellophane tape on the filter just to get a good hit. Thatíll show her.

Then I started buying my own. My favorite, Marlboro RedsÖ cowboy killers. I always felt if I was going to kill myself I might as well stay in the express lane. I toked Ďem up on the way to work and on the way back home. I snuck them around the house and before long I was back up to my usual pack a day. My buddies, always with me.

This continued on for about two months. My kids were in on the secret and were pretty good sports about it, but I knew they didnít like it. So I quit again. It was easy, I just stopped smoking them.

Life is just so much simpler without cigarettes. Back in the day you werenít treated like such a pariah for smoking them. Now people look at you as if youíre squatting to take a dump on the sidewalk, in front of God and everybody. Well, maybe not, maybe itís just me.

I started again kids, in early March of this year. I always pick times when the world apparently crashes around me and my belief systems are shattered. This was one of those times. The excuses for starting arenít important. But damn those things taste good!

My latest attempts to quit involve the use of nicotine gum. It really works; it releases nicotine into your bloodstream and fools your brain into thinking youíre in Flavor Country.

It wasnít working this time. Iíd stopÖ start chewing the gum, and then buy a pack on my way home from work. Iím continually amazed at the rationalizations I can come up with to smoke just one more. Itís a series of delayed deadlines. When I was out, in true junkie form, Iíd re-smoke the butts in the ashtray.

It didnít help that Son1 got himself a monkey to carry. Iíd be doing fine all week chewing that shitty tasting gum and heíd come over on the weekend. I was helping him smoke his cigarettes. Heís doing the God-awful menthol ones, guess where he started stealing his.

This Wednesday he decided he was going to quit and I thought, ďHey! Good idea!Ē He bought some Walgreens brand nicotine patches. I smoked my last cigarette on the way home from work that night and stopped to get a box of them for me.

Finally, Iíve found a system that works. These round bandages heal a wound opened in my brain by releasing 21 milligrams of nicotine into my bloodstream, 24 hours a day. Again my brain is fooled.

I read all the instructions in the booklet. It even came with a CD of instructions, presumably for the junkies that canít read. It got tossed in the trash along with the box. The instructions include the usual warnings about rashes and where not to stick them. There was another warning, unexpected to me:

ĒWearing the patch at night may result in unusually vivid dreams. If this happens, remove the patch before retiring and apply a fresh one the following day.Ē

Remove the patch?!? Are you kidding, I live for this stuff! Can I wear two at night? They delivered on their promise, every night has been filled with glorious action packed feature length movies, and I wake up remembering at least one every morning! No sex dreams though, perhaps that was too much to hope for. Thereís still tonight though.

The best part is this: no craving for cigarettes, at all. These babies really work. Itís just like the good old simpler days without ashtrays and matches and hurried walks to the Quickie Mart in the cold night. I just donít want one at all. Even when Son1 is firing off one of his menthol Cancer Sticks, I just donít care. His promise to quit was a hollow one. I know heíll quit, just not right now.

They come with a seven day supply and when theyíre gone youíre supposed to buy another seven day supply at a reduced dispensing rate. The third week involves a lower dose and then youíre supposed to be free.

I wonít miss the cigarettes, but Iím going to miss those dreams.







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