This is the very last pack of cigarettes I am going to buy. After this, I quit, definitely. I say this to myself, although it’s more of ritual than a resolution. I suppose I believed it the first time I said it, probably the second and third time, too. But that was many years and a million cigarettes ago.
Still, I am under the self imposed delusion that one day soon I will put the smokes down forever.
I have, in fact, become addicted to the idea of quitting cigarettes. I can no longer wake up in the morning without telling myself two or three times that today is the day that I will put cigarettes out of my life. I doubt now that I will ever be able to actually stop.
Besides the nicotine withdrawal I will also suffer the absence of a reason to tell myself every day that I will stop smoking.
I suppose I could still tell myself that I’m going to quit, but have already quit it wouldn’t feel the same.
Maybe I should quit everything else and devote all of my time and energy to smoking cigarette after cigarette, while simultaneously telling myself this, definitely, is the last one.
It’s possible the real solution to this paradox is to become addicted to something stronger which will outweigh my dependance upon cigarettes and the desire to quit them. Something like heroin. I’m sure that between violently fiending and combing the city’s underbelly for a fix and then getting sick and staring at my shoes for nine hours, I would have neither the time nor energy to light up a cigarette or tell myself not to.
Possibly, that could backfire. I would find myself somewhere, a needle in one hand, a smoke in the other, saying to myself, “This is my last fix, this is my last cigarette.”
I would become addicted to addictions, everyday adding another drug or vice just so I could tell myself I would never do it again.”
“This is my last cigarette.
This is my last fix.
This is my last joint.
This is my last line.
This is my last shot of tequila.
This is my last handful of diet pills.
This is the last time I was down barbiturates with large quantities of grain alcohol.
This is my last rock.
This is my last balloon.
This is my last hit of haliprophine.
This is my last sniff of arsenic.
This is the last of the hemlock.
This is the last game of Russian roulette I’ll ever play.”
Maybe then I could quit it all, turn my rhetorical mantra into sound words and a solid resolve. I wonder if dead men feel withdrawal.
© Robert Emmett McWhorter (circa 1992)