This was the final post I made on my old blog exactly one year ago. Today is anniversary #19, and we are still going strong and smoke free…
We were blissful newlyweds of merely three months when my husband Harry revealed that he planned to quit smoking after Super Bowl Sunday in 1998. What?! He never even mentioned this major life decision to me. He never talked about quitting before.
“Really? You’re giving up the smokes?” I incredulously asked.
“Yep. I’ve been at it for over a decade. It’s time,” he said.
“Wow! What’s your quitting plan?”
“I researched the Nicotine Patch and will use those for about three months.”
“Aren’t those expensive?”
“Cheaper than smoking in the long run. Whatever it takes.”
“Sounds like you got this all figured out.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and gotta try. I’m gonna smoke em’ up at Jodi’s Super Bowl Party then start The Patch Monday.”
“Wow, Harry! That’s big news. I had no idea,” I remarked as I stepped out onto our snow-covered porch. I was bombarded by a blizzard and cold, bizarre thoughts to match. Harry and I talked about everything and made choices together. We were the couple who shared all: friends, philosophies, interests, TV shows, and ashtrays.
We were smokers, together.
I loved lighting up with Harry before work, after dinner, while having drinks, during commercials, whenever driving, after a newlywed spat, before and after honeymooning (wink), and any other time we just felt like relaxing. We decompressed and de-stressed with smokes. I didn’t want to be the only smoker of our Harry+Donna Duet, but I certainly didn’t want to quit.
We didn’t smoke in our apartment, so with shivering hands, I packed my box of Marlboro Lights (not Reds or Menthol which are really dangerous), opened the fresh pack and sniffed the sorta-chocolatey aroma of my twenty white tobacco sticks. Using my “You Light up my Life” engraved Zippo (gift from Harry) I fired up and inhaled.
Phew! I was stressed over Harry’s plan and double-hitting, dragging on the cigarette twice, to siphon the nicotine quicker. Within moments, I calmed down as my lips exhaled a carcinogenic chimney.
Coughing, probably from the breathtaking winter air, I spit out a slimy bit of goo, and fired up another; I didn’t want to face my wanna-be-quitter husband. Damn, it was cold out there and such a pain to smoke outside during Pennsylvania winters, but I L-O-V-E-D ciggies. Hell, they were in my life longer than Harry. Who quits smoking at age 25? We had years before we had to worry about our lungs, and skin, and heart (oh hush.)
If Harry was quitting, I guess It would just have to be Donna+The Marlboro Man. As I tried to talk myself into cowboys, I wasn’t going to let the handsome love of my lifetime influence my decisions with his own well-being. I would have great fun talking to myself while taking smoke breaks. Poor Harry would be all alone in our (warm) apartment when I stepped out.
Under the creamsicle clouds of January, I examined the fiery ash of my then smoky lover, and it horrified me. What I saw had never looked so monstrous, and the more I looked at it, the more faces it morphed into. Since when did my ashes glow like demons?
I guess it was always a devilish temptation that turned into my own addiction. I knew it was bad for me, for us, for our future, but I didn’t want to know. We were both hooked, and Harry decided to do something about it. Of course, he wanted his bride to quit too, but he didn’t suffocate my thoughts with pressure. He left me to figure it out on my own, and within five days, we both had our own boxes of 21 mg Nicoderm Patches.
That day-after-the-Super Bowl Monday, we woke to smoke-free kisses and stuck our patches of hope to our arms. Together we quit and defeated the pack like The Broncos did the Packers the night before.
Harry + Donna – The Marlboro Man = Healthy, Happy Couple (23+ years).
(Republished on October 11th, 2016. After dating for four years, we got married 19 years ago today. We still light up each other’s lives, without engraved Zippos.)