Please forgive your favorite editor/columnist. He is desperately attempting to quit smoking, realizing all the while that nicotine gum is nothing more than Skoal Bandits in chewable and quite overly expensive form — nevertheless, he chews on. Give him a break. He is feeling very dumb. After puffing away for ten and more years, the loss is more than just that of a very close but licentious friend, it’s given him this sort of wound-up, crosseyed feeling every time he sits down at his computer or pulls out a pen and paper. It’s DAY 3 and the feeling has yet to abate, nicotine gum-cum-Skoal Bandits be damned. He feels more stupidly stupid than he has ever felt, in short (not altogether a bad thing, we guess, though his historical boostering for things like “the literature of stupidity” or “stupidism” or just living one’s life with a high knowledge that one is, more than likely, quite a bit more idiotic than the next man — all of this stuff was of course done in a rather jauntily ironic way such that both that which was being proclaimed and its exact opposite could be construed as equally intended, so he wasn’t all dumb, or at least that’s was he thought). At this very moment, he is out of wit. This, below, is perhaps all he can handle. OK.
Could smoke rolled-up newspaper, or used toilet paper, even, anything. Yes. That bad. Spend morning very halfheartedly assisting fiancee in digging up turf in a small plot in the backyard in order to extend garden by perhaps four square feet, enough to accommodate two green-pepper plants and three more tomato plants. Spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the fact that, should the tomatoes and peppers ever materialize, what with the undoubtedly polluted city soil, they will become most definitely food for the alley rats.
Spend rest of the morning deflecting fiancee’s ire; pop double load of nicotine gum.
Receive e-mail around noon from also-quitting friend, who sez, “Could smoke rolled-up toilet paper.” Aren’t these your thoughts? Struggle to keep eyes focused on screen.
Journey to meet with old SC friend in Ravenswood for tacos and water. Buy a pack of Marlboros (for an outrageous $6) on your way there and sit it in the passenger seat, an impulse test. Chomp away at gum while occasionally glancing at your new friend, all red and white and lovely there beside you. Pound steering wheel at red lights and scream at cars in traffic.
Mention new friend to your old friend, who laughs and shakes his head back and forth in disapproval across the table from you. Shit. Long, possibly hour-or-more-long, conversation about the progress of life, the feeling of being a pod that churns out and takes info almost on a routine basis. Your old friend is a great man, though, yes, a much better individual than your new friend, whom you throw out the window like useless foreign money on your way to the golf course.
Double bogey. Par. Bogey as you pass two hacking duffers who have to be shooting snowmen (the ever-dreaded 8) or more on each hole. Bogey. Bogey. Join up with Ed, a real-estate consultant who slices his drive into the trees on the right side of the tight fairway. You: Bogey. Bogey. Bogey. For the final hole, pop gum and shank your tee shot into the trees on the right. Waste three strokes getting out of a sand trap after a heinous approach shot, and end the day with a snowman of your own.
Blame the awful end on lack of cigarettes. Buy another pack of Marlboros and place them on the seat beside you. Ever superstitious, resolve to leave them there, comfortable, unburned, until the next round.