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Special Features - Smokeless In Manhattan

Quitting Cold Turkey

I love to smoke. There is something tingly about the smell of unlit tobacco and lighter fluid, then a wash of relief as I suck flame into the tobacco and making it a burn a red ember. It thrills me to pull smoke way down into my lungs and feel the nicotine enter my bloodstream in a nanosecond of rapture as it rushes through a zillion synapses and hits the cortex like a fastball on acid right between the eyes. Then the lovely "fuck you" of blowing the smoke out of my pursed lips at the world.
Check out Paul's Quit Smoking Tips

It went down like a bottle of Drano straight to my heart

I smoked over a pack of Camel non-filters every day for almost twenty years. Add in the bales of pot that I used to smoke, and factor in the tablespoon of soot that every Manhattanite breathes in each day, and you can imagine what my hack sounded like. But I never wanted to stop--not until about a month ago, that is. 

It was just another night of chain smoking and trying to get some work done, fucking around on the web, chain smoking some more and thinking I should go to bed, then lighting up another cigarette. THE cigarette. The one that made me feel like I was going to die. It went down like a bottle of Drano straight to my heart. I felt such a total and systemic shock and pain that it was all I could do to cross the room and lie down on the bed, make myself breathe in and out, and pray that I didn't kick off before I could arrange for my friend Peggy to take care of my cat.

I lived, but I didn't smoke another cigarette that night. And the next day I didn't smoke--for a while. I only smoked about five cigarettes even fewer the next. The third day, I substituted a pipe and some mini cigars for the morning and the evening cigs. I pulled out a plan that an ex-girlfriend had given me on how to quit by making a total dietary change and taking a ton of vitamins. So I started to fast, making a daily pilgrimage to Lucky's Juice Joint for fruit and vegetable juices.
At some point that first week, I just accepted the idea that my schedule had changed...a lot. I started taking late night bike rides. I would sit there, staring at the wall for hours, conscious, but unwilling or unable to rouse myself. 
Eventually, through some tremendous force of will, I stood up, manhandled my bicycle down the stairs, and took off into the night.
On that bicycle, I was free of earthly bonds. It didn't matter whether was I smoking or not, how I felt, or what I was doing. I was on automatic. Up the avenues and down, across town and back. A quick run through Chinatown at three am? Why not! 

I was not surprised to find live meat hanging out on the corners, some of it waving at me

It brought back memories of the days when I drove a bagel truck through the streets of Manhattan all night, when I became truly intimate with the city that came out after dark. Sometimes I'd just pump my legs as hard as they'd go, cut a corner here, double back there, go with the lights, and keep pumping, revelling in the relative quiet and lack of traffic in the late-night city, enjoying having the streets and avenues all to myself. I passed through the meat market. I was not surprised to find live meat hanging out on the corners, some of it waving at me. One large woman was standing on the corner wearing nothing but a pair of panties and a black vinyl purse. Ah, the city at night is so romantic. And if I were still smoking, I'd be missing it all.

Paul Vee

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Other People's Comments


Posted By: Steve

This article was visually stimulating; relating the true gift of a writer, experience.


Posted By: the author

any additional compliments like the above will be rewarded with similar kickbacks...I love you all...


Posted By:

Has anyone created a smokeless club? A place where you can still hang but not get drawn back into the chain smoking crowd? james@superdove.com


Posted By:

Has anyone created a smokeless club? A place where you can still hang but not get drawn back into the chain smoking crowd? james@superdove.com


Posted By: paul

I try to stay away from excessive smoking, but I'm not sure whether segregation (i.e. a smokeless club) is the answer, for me at least. Smoking is everywhere and part of not smoking for me is just learning how to be okay no matter *where* I am.


Posted By: Igor

I stopped smoking two weeks ago· I had a lot of work to do that weekend, so, having plans do not leave my apartment till Monday morning, I got three packs of Marlboro 100s. before going home on Friday· Friday night I got this stupid flu, couldn't get any work done, couldn't smoke because cough was killing me, spent the whole weekend sleeping and coughing... Sunday night I decided not to smoke any more· Now I am going crazy, I can smell cigarettes everywhere, do not know if I can last till tomorrow·