Dear Michael and Caroline,
So I quit. Oh, I tried a few times first. Once, I tried to quit by smoking nonstop, one cigarette right after another without interruption, in order to make the act so revolting I would stop out of protest. But I kept going back to my Salems.
Finally, on January, 1, 1977 – about 14 months after meeting Elvira, 18 months before getting engaged to her and 26 months before our wedding – I quit cigarettes for good.
Same with hard liquor.
Now, I was never as much a drinker as I was a smoker. But make no mistake: I liked to drink. It had nothing to do with the flavor and everything to do with getting high. Vodka, mostly, but also gin, and once in a while, at least early on, scotch, too.
It never looked like it would ever evolve into a problem, except eventually, at the age of 35, I realized someday it very well could be. So on August 6, 1987 – 8/6/87, as luck would have it – I quit hard liquor, too.
In both instances, it was really a matter of making the commitment, nothing more, no secret cure. Once I decided to quit, I quit, and never went back. No regrets.
In fact, I’m quite relieved. If I’d smoked over the last 31 years, how would I feel, what would I look like, how much different might our lives have turned out? Same with drinking. Almost certainly one vice or the other, or possibly the combination of the two, would have destroyed my health, or at least put a serious dent in it. And then maybe my career and our family.
But I stopped in time. Quitting gave me a fresh start. It’s funny how it works out. No sooner do you get addicted to something than you grow addicted to going without it.