New Year’s resolutions are coming up, and I have a few tips for those trying to quit nicotine. My friend Drew and I tried to quit at the same time, and it drove both of us to the brink.
You would think, for instance, that waterlogged cigarettes are not smokable. Actually, they are smokable. I sunk to smoking soggy cigarettes when I lived on a farm in western Wisconsin. I had managed to quit for two days and was well into my third when I could not take it any longer. Just before the gas station closed, I drove the six miles into our little town and bought a pack.
I brought them home, smoked one of them and then, feeling disgusted at my failure to resist temptation, I poured water into the pack and threw it in the trash.
Near eleven that night, I was again frantic for a smoke. I retrieved the sodden pack, carefully cut it open, drained off the water, and laid the cigarettes out on a cookie sheet. This I put into the oven at 200 degrees. I did not bother to pre-heat.
Every 10 minutes, I took the sheet out and rotated each cigarette a quarter of a turn.
Around one in the morning, I found that I had several burnable cigarettes. However, I did not enjoy them very much. It may be that water leaches out the nicotine or that baking causes the nicotine to evaporate.
Drew said I should have thrown them in the toilet. As a joke I said that I would then have to remember to flush. He said I would not have to flush if I was using Godzilla’s Automatic Bowl Cleaner because it makes cigarettes taste bad. I realized then that his addiction was worse than mine.
The doctor suggested that Drew make fake cigarettes out of plastic straws. Then, when he found himself getting nervous, he could take one out to occupy his hands.
Drew is a World War II vet and had served in Europe as a GI. When he quit smoking, he started having dreams of being back in the war. He was afraid to go to sleep. To help him, his wife Colleen suggested that they start going to church. Drew was disinclined, but he was ready to try anything.
The doctor also suggested that Drew carry his old WWII era Zippo lighter as a way of having something familiar around and keeping his hands busy. I kept thinking about Godzilla Cleaner and put a “Flush after Use” sign on my toilet.
For Drew, that first Sunday service at the Melancholy Valley Methodist Church went badly. Everything about the service seemed to remind him of one of the services he attended with his fellow soldiers just before they went into combat.
Then, when he and Colleen were outside the church after the service, she thought that standing around talking to total strangers would be a good thing. It just made Drew more nervous.
As he stood there trying to think of something to say, he took one of his colored straws from his pocket, put it in his mouth, and then lit it with his antique Zippo. The plastic straw immediately burst into flames but, before it could reach his lips, he spat it out. It landed at the feet of the deacon.
“I think they thought I was the devil, spitting fire,” he told me later. I asked him if he was going back to church.
“She wants me to. How you doing? ”
“I bought the Godzilla stuff.”
“Good. It’ll help.”
He did manage to quit and so did I.
Rhinelander District Library director Ed Hughes is available at (715) 365-1070.