I Worked The Vice Squad

Boy_smoking
Dear Michael and Caroline,

Sometimes nothing gets you going in the right direction better than quitting something.

I know. I speak as a longtime quitter. I’ve quit at least two major bad habits (though I still have several more to go).

Back in 1970, for example, away from home for the first time, in college in Boston, I started smoking cigarettes. A pack a day grew to two packs a day in short order. My life was designed around my smokes, or vice versa – hard to say which – with me smoking after every meal, smoking with a drink, and certainly smoking, always smoking, as I wrote, usually late into the night.

I loved it. Loved the whole routine, the ritual, the taste, the smell, but most of all the sight, the tendrils of smoke coiling under a reading light like some primordial fog. I went on like that for years, believing myself pretty cool, ever so much the writer, through college and into my first job. Knew it was bad for me, unhealthy, cancerous, yet I had no plans to quit.
Until I met Elvira. She hated my smoking. Hated it! She forbade me to smoke in her presence. After we moved in together, she banned my smoking in the apartment, banishing me to the terrace. She told me that kissing me was like licking the inside of an ashtray.

Ah, doomed romance!

Well, that was the deciding factor right there. If my kisses were going to disgust her, why would we keep living together?

P.S. – See part 2 tomorrow.

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