The Quitter

Editor’s note: this blog entry begins with a poker story, but only for reasons of context.

A little more than three weeks ago, I was sitting at the tables in Foxwoods, suffering through another long, boring stretch of break-even poker. To my right sat a drunken, crude, redneck idiot (30 years old or so, and hereinafter referenced as ‘DCRI’). At one point he started talking about hunting with some of the rest of us, and when I said “hunting is not a sport,” he said, and I believe I am quoting him accurately, “that’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard.” No hyperbolist, he!

Eventually he went out for a cigarette, and three of us started ripping on him, including a nice guy with a HUGE stack, who said the only reason he hadn’t gone to bed yet was because he was waiting to stack DCRI.

Shortly thereafter I got into a big hand with DCRI. I had two queens, and he (rather obviously, in retrospect) had two aces. However, I refused to give the asshole any credit whatsoever for the cards he (obviously) had, he played the hand competently, and the next thing you know, all my money was going to his stack. It was a gutting, sickening feeling. Going broke with QQ in that situation is a completely amateur move… and I did it.

The author, in better times.

I walked back to my room in a complete haze (and not just from the smoke and slot-machine-droning in the casino), emotionally numb, intellectually humiliated… somewhat curious as to whether I would (a) trash my hotel room or (b) curl into a ball and cry all night in the corner. Thankfully, I just lay down in bed and calmly fell asleep.

The next morning, that haze was still there. As I moved about my room, and walked to Dunkin’ Donuts for my (daily, comped) breakfast, my movements were very ginger and hesitant. I was still suffering from a very mild case of PTSD.

The author, 2010.

Then, something happened.

The hundred-minute drive from Foxwoods to Boston is a painful one when you’ve lost money. Obviously, that morning’s drive was particularly painful. Now normally, I would have chased that Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee of mine with at least two cigarettes during the drive. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like smoking. At least four times during the trip, I looked long and hard at that pack of cigarettes, knowing that my iced coffee deserved their companionship, but I just didn’t really want one.

Then it dawned on me: okay, I’ll quit smoking today.

I’ve always told people I’m a “part-time smoker” who could “quit whenever [I] wanted to.” Usually, those remarks were met with eye-rolls, sneers, and looks of pity. Well, guess what, eye-rollers and pity-upon-lookers: you all can suck it. I was right.

Quitting smoking (twenty-three days clean at the moment of this writing) has been painfully easy. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed at the level of the challenge. On Day Three, I went out drinking with the boys. No sweat. On Day Seventeen, I not only went out drinking with boys, I stood next to one of them while he smoked and told him how cool it looked.

Here’s the Temptation Breakdown thus far of  situations that used to always cause me to reach for a smoky treat (1-10, 10 being ridiculously tempting):

After a few beers:  6

With my morning coffee: 9

After a particularly satisfying meal: 4

Watching people smoke in movies:  5

Watching young women smoke in my field of vision:  8

After sex:  Incomplete

So, Nicotine, I beg of you: up your game. Think outside the box. Just do something, and do it soon, because I am singlehandedly crushing the aura of your supposed addictiveness. As I mentioned on Facebook,* I’m seriously thinking about starting a heroin habit, just for the challenge of quitting that, too.

I kid, I kid. Nicotine, we both know I will be coming back for short visits. I can be one of those people who occasionally has a cigarette at parties, on golf courses, etc, right? The only question is when. And that, dear readers, leads us to today’s poll:

*Five words it pains me to type



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3 responses to “The Quitter

  1. You know I love this post. I hate that feeling of losing to someone like DCRI. Hey, it happens. Clara is VERY glad you’ve quit.

  2. Wendy

    I’d have preferred an option on that poll for “never again,” but I think if you can make it to a year, you’re golden.

  3. Barry Abrams

    I really like your Simpsons-esque technique of rolling out a big, rousing curtain-raiser story (your DCRI yarn) and then hairpin-segueing into a main story that has almost nothing to do with the curtain-raiser.

    OR DOES IT? (ominous organ chord)

    Nicely spun.

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