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Y'ant Some? . . .

         It seems whenever anyone writes an article on the topic of quitting tobacco, it is mandatory to mention Mark Twain's famous quotation on the subject. Who am I to trifle with tradition? (In my research, I found a lot of paraphrases of Twain's joke. I think the following is an accurate quotation) "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did", Mark Twain quipped, " I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times."

            This weekend marks the first anniversary of my quitting tobacco - again. In the past, I have renounced the habit several times with reasonable results. The first time, I quit for a year but it was murder. I WANTED tobacco every day of that year. The second time I gave up tobacco, it was easier and I made it last nearly five years before I picked up the habit again. This time around, I have been off the stuff for a year now.

            What is weird is the way it all happened. The times before, it was as if I was launching a crusade. I needed to muster either courage or self-righteous outrage to conquer some 'vile addiction'. This time, I simply ran out of cash one day while I was working with Raymond.

            June 20, 2003 was a Friday. I ran out of Copenhagen snuff about 9 in the morning. I figured I would make the 'chew' last until lunch break and go over to the convenience store to get another can. It was never a problem. Ray chewed Copenhagen too and we always shared. One day, I would be light and I would tap Ray's can. Another day, Ray would be short and he would have some of mine. It was never a problem.

            After lunch that day, I realized I didn't have enough money to buy another can of Copenhagen. I carried plastic, of course, but it just felt wrong to charge a can of snuff. My father, who survived the Great Depression and served in Germany during W.W.II, beat it into me that credit was not trivial. I decided to wait until after work when I got home to buy more tobacco. Once my banking was done, I could then pay cash for it.

            The opportunity never arose. All weekend, I was one chore away from going down to the store and buying a can of Copenhagen. By Monday morning, I had been 'off' Copenhagen for almost three days.

            Do you know how, sometimes, people will talk in GENERALITIES when they really are trying to talk to you?

            Daybreak on the following Monday morning; Raymond and I were getting ready to start a new work week. We sat on the tailgate of my pickup truck waiting for the rest of the crew to show up. I was nursing a styrofoam cup of convenience store coffee. Ray had just finished his morning juice when he pulled his trusty can of Copenhagen from his front pocket. With a snap of the wrist, he packed the tobacco within the can, then he popped off the lid. He offered the open can to me, "Y'ant some?"

            "No, Thanks", I replied, "I haven't had a pinch since Friday. I guess I'll just see how long I can go."

            Ray nodded, put the lid back on the can and leaned back on the pickup gate so he could slide the Copenhagen back into his right front jean pocket. "You know what I hate?", Raymond GENERALIZED, " . . . Its people that say they are quitting but really all they do is quit buying. Nowadays, Copenhagen is almost 'five - bucks - a - can'. I can't afford to support everyone who is quitting. There are some really bad moochers around. If the company sends me to certain job sites, it costs me a 'can - a - day' because all the tobacco moochers bumming tobacco off of me all day. I hate that. People begging tobacco from me. I wish they would go buy their own.   Oh, not like YOU, Doc. You are always good for it . . ."

           That is how it happened. After listening to that speech, there was no turning back for me. It meant I could never be seen mooching tobacco from co-workers. Suddenly, a weekend whim became a commitment:  Either (1) really quit or (2) shut up and go buy a can.

           Like I said, I haven't had any tobacco since that Friday a year ago . . . I guess I'll just see how long I can go.



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