DAILY BRIEFING
Cold Turkey

Mar. 18 - As you know, I mostly quit smoking a few weeks ago. I did this with the assistance of Nicorette, the smokeless nicotine delivery system so insidious you can actually consume nicotine while you work out, shower, or sit in a sauna. In other words, you get all the nicotine with none of the hassle. It's a great way not to smoke, but a terrible way to quit smoking. The addiction to nicotine remains, meaning the craving for cigarettes is unabated.

I'd been allowing myself to smoke on our poker nights, so as I puffed away last Thursday I realized that if I was ever going to quit—quit in the sense of actually quitting—I'd have to go cold turkey. No cigarettes, no Nicorette, nothing. Just the cold sweats, insomnia, and a whole lot of sunflower seeds.

I decided it wouldn't be much fun to quit before my birthday, so I allowed myself to smoke over the weekend and went absolutely crazy on my birthday. Whiskey, cigarettes, democracy, sexy.

Tuesday morning I went cold turkey.

IdiomSite.com explains the etymology of quitting "cold turkey" this way:

The state addicts are in when withdrawing from drug addition, especially heroin. Origin: In the state of drug withdrawal the addicts [sic] blood is directed to the internal organs leaving the skin white and with goose bumps and thus resembling a turkey.

(I don't trust this undocumented etymology, but none of my reference books has anything at all to offer and a cursory search of the Web didn't offer anything else, so it's the best I can do.)

It wasn't difficult not to smoke for the first few hours of Tuesday morning. I had gone to bed quite merrily at about 5am Monday night, but had to get out of bed at around nine o'clock to accompany the DMG to her first midwife visit. I cleaned up, hopped in the car with her, followed her into an office building, and sat beside her for half an hour while she and the midwife chatted away in Danish. I listened eagerly only when it came time to hear the Bean's heartbeat.

The DMG dropped me off at home on her way to work. She suggested I get some food in my stomach and try to grab another hour or two of sleep before actually attempting to do anything. I followed her advice.

By 12:30 I was back on my feet and feeling much better. I had a nice healthy lunch and sat down at the computer to discover quite a bit of work ahead of me—work that was due by the end of the day.

I couldn't concentrate. I kept getting up from the computer, walking around the apartment, moving things around, and eating gummi bears.

"This is ridiculous," I thought. "I can't possibly get any work done like this. If I just have one cigarette, I'll obviously be able to concentrate on my work."

I ran out to the store and got a pack of cigarettes. I smoked one out on the patio and felt a terrific sense of well-being. My mind was clear. I could work.

About two hours later the cycle repeated itself. It wasn't as hard on my conscience the second time, however, since I'd already had one cigarette. What was the harm in having a second?

The same logic got me through the third and fourth.

I didn't say anything to the DMG that night. I was still exhausted from having only snatched about five total hours of sleep since my whiskey-drenched Monday night, and she was completely wiped out from a very busy day at work, so we both retired not long after a very late dinner.

Yesterday I had a few more cigarettes to "take the edge off" the horrors of going cold turkey.

"I can just smoke a few less cigarettes each day," I assured myself as I lit up after lunch. "Like, if I have six today, then I can have five tomorrow. And so on."

Cold turkey didn't seem so difficult after all. It still doesn't. Anyone could do it.

Or so I thought until I talked my strategy over with the DMG last night. She didn't have the same liberal ideas about "cold turkey" that I did. She had a more fundementalist view of the subject.

"Cold turkey means no nicotine at all," she observed.

"And that's what I'm working toward," I said.

"No nicotine at all, not now, not ever."

"Right. Except when it gets too difficult, and then I only have one at a time."

I've mentioned before, I think, how impressive her non-verbal communication can be.

In the end we came to an agreement: I would continue "taking the edge off" my cold turkey misery for the rest of the week, but once she got home Friday night I would begin observing a more literal interpretation—with her assistance. She will watch me ruthlessly. I will not be allowed any walks on my own, will be not left home alone for any significant period of time, and will absolutely not be permitted to wander more than ten meters from her in any environment where lit cigarettes are being handled. In exchange for her assistance, I have promised not to hold it against her, and she has promised to understand that any rage I may exhibit is not directed at her. It'll just be near her.

What a weekend this promises to be! One of us hormonally askew from pregnancy, the other in the icy grips of nicotine withdrawal.

Keep your distance.

Terrible, Terrible

On March 18, 1584, Ivan IV of Russia died. He is better known by his nickname: Ivan the Terrible. He was the first king of Russia to call himself a Caesar, probably in the hopes that Shakespeare would write a play about him. He couldn't pronounce Caesar, however, so he simply called himself "zar," and subsequent arguments over whether that should be spelled czar, tsar, zar, or tzar became so heated that they eventually resulted in Russian History.

The Moron's Index
Bean Counter: 17 weeks + 6 days
Days as a Non-Smoker: 0

Dagens Ord (The Word of the Day)
Kalkun Turkey. (Bonus: kylling is chicken.) Kold kalkun does mean "cold turkey," but in no other sense than unheated poultry.

There's plenty of new stuff over on the blog, if you're interested, including a Christiania crack-down (so to speak), and the tricks my mind has played on me to keep me feeling young.

Birthdays and Aruba Days

Today is the birthday of Queen Latifah (1970), Bonnie Blair (1964), Vanessa Williams (1963), Irene Cara (1959), Wilson Pickett (1941), F.W. deKlerk (1936), John Updike (1932), George Plimpton (1927), Peter Graves (1926), and Grover Cleveland (1837).

It's Aruba Day in Arubua.

Happy Thursday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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