Ever since I quit smoking (about 5 years ago), I’ve been trying to resist becoming one of those health snobs. You know, the people who love to tell you how unhealthy whatever it is you’re doing is for you.
Case in point: my dad. He is militantly anti-smoking. No, I don’t think you understand. Militant. He just loves to pontificate about the evils of cancer sticks. He cuts out newspaper articles on the dangers of smoking just so HE can look at them later. Any poor sucker who innocently lights up in the presence of my dad will be met with endless barbs and jabs at how stupid he/she is for having that “filthy habit.” He’s relentless.
His dad died of lung cancer, so I understand my dad’s passion. But, jeez, give it a rest. If someone wants to kill themselves slowly with the sweet, smooth flavor of glorious tobacco (Hey, it was only 5 years ago. I still get the cravings.), than let them.
I was in such fear of his anti-smoking wrath that I never could muster the courage to tell him that I was one of the nicotine addicted schmucks. For eight years I had to constantly scan for incriminating evidence lying around my car or apartment: errant packs, lighters, matches or the dreaded smoky coat. A box of Altoids was my constant companion. It was an endless source of amusement for my friends. They thought I was such a wimp. “You don’t understand, guys, he’d KILL me!”
Of course, the downside of not telling dad that I smoked (and really, this is probably the only downside, I still think he would have killed me) is that I didn’t get to tell him when I quit! I lost out on the congratulatory high fives, the beaming look in his eyes when he learned that I, his son, kicked one of the hardest habits to kick. I have daydreams where I tell him I used to smoke just to get the accolades for quitting, but think better of it when I realize he’ll probably kick my ass to the floor anyway. Like I said, militant.
Back to the health snob thing. Because of my dad, I know that I have the health snob gene. Everyone knows that the HS gene is passed down paternally. So, like I said, I’ve been looking for it to rear its ugly, smug face. It has bubbled up a few times, mostly as my wife tries to quit smoking. She’s doing really well, but I can’t resist giving her a hard time when she bums one in public.
Ever since I quit, I’ve been running fairly consistently. About 3 miles, 2 or 3 days a week. Recently I’ve dropped off a little, but my membership to the YMCA should kick my ass back in gear.
Anyway, as most runners do, I have a usual route that I take. It is on this route that you will see me huffing it, with my 2 dogs in tow. It’s a pretty funny sight, two smiling dogs pulling a slightly grumpier me down the road, happy as clams to be with their dad outside on a sunny day.
It is on this route that I pass the same house every day. And outside of this house is the same woman. Probably around 50 years old and perennially sucking on a cig. I run different times of the day and sometimes not for a week, but every single time I pass that house I see this woman. Every damn time. Sitting by herself on a stoop smoking a cigarette. She must go out there every 10 minutes of every day. It looks so lonely and sad. It is the picture of addiction.
I don’t think I’m being snobby when I say I’m glad that’s not me, because it very well could have been. Like I said before, it’s her choice and I’m sure she really enjoys her 30-40 daily cigarettes. But, as I pass her on her little stoop, I can’t help but get an added spring in my step and a stronger resolve never to start smoking cigarettes again.