Thursday, January 15, 2009

If the cancer doesn't kill me, the neuroses will

I was cleaning up the other day, and in the process of moving things off the coffee table to dust and polish, I realized how completely neurotic and OCD I am about my smoking. Not that this comes as a surprise, exactly, given how I am about most other things. But I started making a list of the things that have to be "just so" that I do, and I realized I should probably get a nice white dinner jacket that ties in the back.

For example...
  • Going along with my "law of backups," I have not one but two zippos. One is always fully fueled and sitting beside a candle on the coffee table. Should the "primary" ever run out of fuel, I pick up the backup, and then immediately refuel the other one, placing it by the candle to serve as the backup. It helps to have them evenly rotated.
  • Along the same lines, zippo users know that you have to have a flint to make a spark. My dad showed me a trick (damn, I feel like John Bender here) where you can store extra flints in the bottom of the outer case, below the insert/felt, so that if for some reason you run out where you don't have access to the little plastic six pack of flints, you always have one ready. If I use this trick to replace the flint, I get antsy until I can put another backup in its place.
  • When I leave the house, I always put the smokes and the lighter in the same pocket. Left front.
  • I'm a fan of "having the smokes where you are." Instead of opening one pack, and carrying that and one lighter around to various rooms in the house or to the car, I have a pack and a lighter everywhere I could be. The full pack and the zippo are the "traveling" combo, but I have an open pack and a lighter (disposable) on my desk at home. I have another combo in the living room. (When I had a large house back in the motherland, I had combos placed in the bedroom, the office, the kitchen and the basement). I have another combo in the car. Lazy? I mean hell, how much hassle is it to carry a lighter and a pack of smokes around? But with a little foresight, I don't even have to think about it. And how do I have so many disposable lighters? There was a tiny c-store I found here, where (for a while) they had the cheapest ciggies around (not saying much, since they fucking tax you to death here). With every carton you bought, they gave you a free Bic. So I stocked up. And of course, they're all stored in a specific rubbermaid container in the pantry. But for a while, when I was journeying back to Georgia for the ballgames, I would get cartons and cartons there (about $15 - 20 cheaper per), and they didn't give out free lighters. Without the excessive taxation, perhaps they thought it would cut into their margins. Which reminds me, I probably need to make a sojourn to Virginia, to take advantage of their more smoker-friendly pricing.
  • I also get paranoid about running out of a pack, or of a supply. Right now, I have about 15 packs in the pantry, 2 in the briefcase and 3 in the car. And I'm wondering when I should restock, before the situation becomes dire. (Not that I really smoke THAT much. Probably less than a pack a day, unless it's a big drunken weekend).
  • I realized I am an ambidextrous smoker. When I'm driving, I use the left hand (the world is my ashtray!). When I'm at my desk at home, I use the right (which is odd, since that's the "mouse hand.") In other situations, it just depends. I knew someone who could only use their left hand, and frequently burned themselves or dropped the ciggie when they tried to switch hands. Idiot.
  • I don't use the ashtray in the car. The ashtray in the car is kind of like my tiny "junk drawer." I keep paper clips, pens, frequent shopper keychain cards -- all on one keyring with a label that says "frequent shopper, natch -- and other bullshit in there. (Change goes in a special zip bag on the left door compartment).
  • I hate looking at butts. At home, where I have an ashtray, I also have an empty coke or beer can. When I'm done with the ciggie, I put it out in the ashtray, and then put the butt in the can. (Benefits: don't have to make as many trips to the trash can, don't ever inadvertently light a filter - ugh, and don't have to see the butts pile up). I lived with another smoker for a while, and the supposed deal was that we would alternate drink mixing and ashtray emptying. When one of us went upstairs to mix another round of cocktails, the other was supposed to empty the ashtray. Needless to say (especially for those of you familiar with the situation), one end of that bargain didn't always get held up. So I would then take the butts and line them side by side around the outside of the ashtray. I thought of it as a cancerous arts and crafts project. Also, you know it's time to empty the ashes from the tray when you can't see the bottom. You don't let a huge mound build up like a mini-Pompeii diorama. A while back, when my hetero lifemate was smoking, he had a pickup truck. He would throw the butts out the window, too, but would use the ashtray in the dash of the truck. But I think he emptied it once a year. It was a ginormous mountain of ash, quite possibly obscuring his view of the road. I was always afraid he'd make a quick turn one way or another, and I, in the passenger seat, would suddenly feel like I was on Mrs. O'Leary's Wild Ride (cow optional).
Crazy? Any crazier than smoking itself? I was gonna make a new year's resolution to quit. I thought about it for a few minutes, and said "eh." I assume I will eventually. (Well, of course I will eventually. Just like I'll quit watching TV, walking, breathing and drinking whiskey. But in a less definitive sense, I'll probably quit sometime in the next couple of years. I just had an end of year physical, and surprisingly, the doc told me I check out okay. Yes, even the lungs and the liver. Keith Richards can SUCK IT!).

Until then, I've got a system and I think I'll stick to it.


  1. Don't we all have little quirks about us? Some more than others. I probably fall in the some category though. This may not be saying much but from OCDer to another, this is completely reasonable.

  2. I thought you might find this interesting.

    I think 3 to 5 pots is practically the same as 3 to 5 cups so you are good.

  3. I thought of it as a cancerous arts and crafts project.


    When I worked in the hospitality industry, I would take one book of matches with me every time I went outside to smoke; consequently, I still have dozens of matchbooks with only one or two matches missing stashed in a drawer, even though it's been ten months.

    I accidentally stopped smoking right after Thanksgiving, and it was HORRID. Who the hell suffers DTs from quitting smoking? Me, that's who. (And, like you, I smoked a little less than a pack a day. Although that might have been because I sort of-kind of quit drinking at the same time. I mean, who the hell can have a drink without a cigarette?) But then I decided I could be a party smoker on New Year's, and it's been a struggle ever since. I've worked my way back down to five a day, but I'm thinking cold turkey is the only sure-fire way for me to quit.

    Also, have we met? Because I have that whole problem where I can't hold a cigarette in my right hand without calling in Smokey Bear -- even though I'm right-handed.

  4. Thanks for the "approval" all. And every day, it seems like I read something positive that java does for you. Hopefully, I'll never get demented and forget to make it for the morning.

    And DropEdge, congrats on your efforts to quit. (Though I'm not sure I would see the benefits to quitting drinking and smoking. Other than finding out what happens on Lost and BSG, I couldn't really find a reason to go on then). That's funny about your right-handed smoking. Nope, not you, though it seems to be fairly common. Perhaps ambidextrous smoking is enough these days to get me my own reality show?

  5. And Sarah, what did I tell you about the seemingly endless stories about coffee? It appears now that heavy coffee use makes you hallucinate:

    You know, that could actually explain a lot.

  6. Haha. If you cut a ping pong ball in half and tape it to your eyes while listening to radio fuzz, you start to hallucinate.