I guess I'll take a walk tonight I know that I can't sleep
And I won't go too bad at all I'll just lay there and weep
Instead I'll make our favorite spot that's what I think I'll do
I've got those smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee blues
Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee all night long
Wondering how the love so right could suddenly go wrong
I'd grab the next bus out of town but I've got to be near you
I've got those smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee blues--Jean Sheperd, Cigarette and Coffee Blues
Before the year is out and I have to make a new set of resolutions that I might not be able to keep, I thought it important to try and make good on one of this years. Resolutions. So I've taken up smoking. This may come as a shock those who know me because unlike other substances, I've never smoked cigarettes. Don't fancy them. Never have.
I lived with smokers growing up and hated the smell and the smoke and the brown boogers. Tried to smoke once when I was 14. Couldn't hack the taste. Smoking bans in bars in restaurants? I voted for them all because one of the costs of listening to live music shouldn't be smelling like an astray. But I wanted to make a resolution I could keep this year so why not take up smoking. Plus, I figure I can always quit ( or can I?) Besides, there are more opportunities for smoking in the midwest than snorkeling.
Now to make the resolution more interesting and challenging, I've decided to turn it into an art project. The premise of the project is HOW MANY CIGARETTES CAN I SMOKE and NOT become addicted. Does anyone know the point at which one becomes uncontrollably addicted to a substance that might kill you? Probably not. Erst while, how to explain the many crack addicts and alcoholics dodging about in corners and back alleys?
Smoking a half-a-pack of cigarettes over a couple of weeks probably won't do it so I gather I'm still safely away from the edge. Getting nearly addicted to cigarettes won't be pretty; it smells, it's expensive, but worse of all, it can lead to lung cancer. But then again, so can oil painting if done in a small studio. I'm imagine this project to be a cross between a Tom Waits song, a Jim Jarmusch movie, and a T.S. Elliot poem. Murky, dangerous, and full of intrigue. But that's only if it works out.
On the down side it could lead to high blood pressure, holes in the carpet, or stage IV carcinoma; but art is about control. Then there's the cost. A pack of primo (let's do it with panache!) cigs goes for more than $5. About the cost of a tube of paint, but granted a lot less than an ounce of weed, a bottle of fine scotch, or a heroin habit, but still if one were to go in all the way, a cig habit could add up with time. Not to mention the potential ill health effects. But art is full of sacrifices that we are prepared to make. In the end I may not have my health, but at least I have a health plan.
But there are bigger problems with me smoking. Foremost is that I don't know how to smoke so there's that to learn. Perhaps smoking is like painting, one can take a lifetime to learn how to do it well. Additionally, this decision could shorten my life, but then again, what's the saying?, "so could crossing the street". And does crossing the street while smoking double your chances at death? Let's hope not since I'm a serial jaywalker. None of this we know, so let's that call that some of the edges of the work. We've always liked to work around the edges. I do know we have only one life to lead so we might as well enjoy a smoke break now and then.
Upper Image: youngurban via the world wide web.