Vices in Solitude

It’s that time again.  I can’t say for sure that, “that time” comes with any precise regularity.  But enough time goes by when I just know it’s time to reset the clock.  I only smoke when I drink, but I don’t drink much anymore.  Unless I need a smoke.  Nobody is around anyway, and who needs judging eyes, even when they’re from your family who really only want you to live a long life.  Of course they’re right, which is why I can say with absolute certainty that I’ve been mostly successful at ending my days of vice.  I can see the edge of the package there.  A hiding spot of sorts I guess.  Not really hidden well, but out of the way.  One of those kinds of spots. It’s not like she doesn’t know I still do it from time to time, as there is no hiding the smell of these things.  Hmmm…plenty left if my judgement of shaking sounds is any good.  Lots of natural light in the house, I might have a bit of spring weather here.  Yes, this is an activity best done alone.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

The drink for the occasion? Well that might get more judgment, but on a day like today, with the sun shining and a nice mossy spring feeling in the air, it’s got to be tomato juice and vodka.  It is morning, and the tomato juice…well it sort of works as a light breakfast, just tricking your stomach into thinking it isn’t having vodka on an empty stomach.  Let’s see 3 good-sized cubes of ice, a tumbler.  I wonder why they call it a tumbler, I really don’t want my drink to tumble anywhere.

My pack, my drink, my lighter, and sun.  I would have survived quite well without the latter, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.  Not much ceremony here with the cigarette.  Some people like to make a big show of getting the cigarette out of the pack, but I think they are only trying to slow themselves down so they don’t smoke too much. The joy of smoking is in the smoking.  Anytime in between is not a good time.  And that’s a pretty good reason not to smoke.  Nevertheless, old habits die hard. It even feels strange as I hold it in my fingers, but all too familiar as I hold it in my mouth.  With the click of a lighter,  I can hear the faint crackle as paper and tobacco burn.  Alright now I’m going to need a moment.  You see every day is a fight of some sort or another.  Not smoking is just another one added to your every day. It gets lost in the background if you keep yourself busy.  But every once in a while, it feels good to lose.  Quite frankly I look forward to losing this fight.  It’s like being able to lower your defenses, because sometimes the shoulder, well it just needs a rest from raised fists.  Pardon me while I inhale deeply.

My lungs resist now, but it’s more like a difficult child who is crying because it doesn’t want to go sleep.  Which is ironic, because the only reason it’s crying is because it’s really sleepy.  That kind of resistance.  You tolerate the crankiness because you know it will be angelic peacefulness soon enough.  I really honestly feel like I can feel the nicotine enter my blood through my lungs and circulate from artery, to arteriole, to capillary.  It’s saying to every cell, “Hey! Remember me?”  And all the cells of course remember good old Nick.  He’s a great time, he never tells you what he’s been doing to Mr. Lung to get in and visit, and of course you don’t care, because your brain is in on the sting.  It sounds a bit dramatic but these moments come rarely and I insist on making the most of it.  So if the nicotine has conspired with parts of your body to con the lungs in an old-fashioned caper, I say it’s all in the spirit of good storytelling. Well a story I’m telling myself of course. I’m of the opinion, in all seriousness, that any body part is capable of betrayal given the right environment.  The gullibility of the brain is probably to blame.  No need to mend it if you can bend it.

Now with a few preliminary puffs out of the way, it is time for that first sip.  The top inch should be pretty cold by now.  To be honest with you, I should have taken that first sip first.  Smoking does tend to taint everything you ingest afterwards, but I’m too anxious for that first drag and I regret not sipping first every time.  I’ll admit this regret is mostly ritualistic at this point as well.  Anyway, I want to explain how to take a sip the right way, but I am afraid I won’t be up to the task.  That being said, I’m putting my best foot forward, by putting my cigarette down.

Stillness is the key here, and if you’re doing it right it doesn’t matter where you are.  You begin by taking the glass in your hand, feel the coolness of the surface against your fingers.  You must then bring the glass to your lips.  Not too fast so you appear greedy and sloppy.  Not too slow, because that disrespects the beverage.  It’s more like when you bring a woman in towards you for a kiss and you want to kiss her like you really mean it.  Like you want to kiss her out of the pure joy of kissing her, not because of what else it might lead to.  As the glass approaches your mouth, you want to let out a warm breath so that just a hint of condensation sits on the surface of the glass. It’s important that the drink knows that you are a living being, that you thirst, that you crave, but that you are also civilized.  You can hear the ice cubes with their soft clink on the sides of the glass, your lips part and then your top lip sinks into the top layer of the beverage while you tilt the glass ever so slightly.  It’s important that the rate of flow of the liquid is slow in order to taste each molecule, to let as much of that beverage know that it is welcome to continue its journey as it slides down your throat.  And if you manage to get the flow just right.  If you pay attention to each flavor – the bitterness of vodka, the silky smooth tang of the tomato juice, and the way your lip cools down as it touches the ice cubes floating in your drink, you will find that there is nothing else in the world but you, and the drink.  And in that moment, I can’t decide whether I’ve solved all my problems, or if they ever existed in the first place.  Either way, it’s peaceful.

At this point you are welcome to stay, but I think I’ve shared about as much of this morning as I can with you.  I know rinse and repeat seems a bit anticlimactic, but that’s all that is left.  But you can take my word for it, I will enjoy every moment.  And then, well I have a list of chores to get to and the day must officially start.  For now, all this is unofficial.  Cheers.

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40 thoughts on “Vices in Solitude

        1. lol…as I told Ark…I literally have never even put a cigarette in my mouth…ever. Although after his comment, I worry that I might cause somebody to fall off the wagon. An unintended consequence of this little post. lol

          Liked by 2 people

  1. I am going to take as a given this is fiction? I hope … It certainly comes across as such, with just enough sense of realism to make one pause and wonder … maybe not? That’s a compliment in case you weren’t sure!
    If it is fact – for real, as it were, then you have told it marvelously well. Can we say ”marvelously”?
    Whatever …
    As an ex smoker … or am I allowed to say non-smoker these days. It has been close to four or is it five years? I can’t quite remember? Anyway, I found myself inhaling along with you. Which goes to show that perhaps the nicotine never leaves the system. Or maybe it is simply the ingrained habit of half a lifetime( to date)

    The drink had no effect as I rarely drink alcohol.

    Ark

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for the compliment Ark! This is indeed fiction…but what writer doesn’t include some part of his psyche into it I suppose? I have never actually smoked before…so I do indeed take your words as a compliment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Then you are a rotten bastard, sir for I was craving for a few moments!
        John Z smokes like a chimney, I believe,
        ”Because they are so cheap here in Brazil”, so I wonder what his reaction will be?
        I suspect he will unconsciously light up, and merrily puff away as he reads along.
        Again, very well written. I almost ”enjoyed” it.
        🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        1. “Then you are a rotten bastard, sir for I was craving for a few moments!” – Hahahaha, it is convincing enough! Swarn will be getting hospital bills to pay citing him as the culprit at this rate.

          – esme falling about and applauding Swarn’s convinciality (troposphere word) upon the Cloud

          Liked by 2 people

  2. This was brilliantly written, Swarn. You recently told me that I become more astounding to you everyday! I was at a loss for words at the time, but I just want to say — the feeling is mutual.

    Btw, for a minute there I thought you were making a public confession. Lol

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you Victoria. I am trying to do some more writing of fiction and flexing those muscles. It takes more time, that I rarely have with a job and energetic toddler…but am going to try a little more. The response to this piece has been encouraging, even if I did cause Ark to nearly fall off the wagon. lol

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Swarn, I will start off by saying you are a talented writer. But I almost couldn’t finish your story because for me, the subject stinks! Literally and figuratively. I hate…hate…HATE cigarettes! (Cigars and pipes as well.)

    I have such an aversion to them that some would probably describe me as a little overboard. Truth be known, there was a time in my life that I think I could have been a “protester” with placards and all condemning smokers. (In case you’re wondering, no, I never smoked.)

    However, having said all that … once I started reading the comments and discovered you were simply “telling a story,” I felt much better. I admit I still couldn’t quite bring myself to read to the end — but what I did read? The talent is most definitely there … otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been so affected. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nan. I will take it as a compliment. I am no fan of cigarettes myself, and the longer I am away from it, the harder it becomes to bear the smell. But it’s clear that some people do enjoy them, some people are relaxed by it, and it’s addicting, and so I just wanted to try to capture that feeling, but also maybe some nostalgia, by getting into the mind of a character whose days of heavier drinking and smoking were behind him. But I do understand your aversion, and take no offense, and as you say it is likely a greater compliment that you were affected in such a way. lol The second part involves alcohol, so it probably would have been easier to bear! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. … and it’s addicting — Pretty much sums it up. When people say they “enjoy” smoking or it “relaxes” them, it’s simply their way of defending an inescapable habit. (Sorry smokers, but you know it’s true.)

        Alcohol definitely has its drawbacks as well, but you’re right … much easier to bear. 🙂

        Like

  4. Well gosh, I sure am glad I read the comments before, er, commenting. I thought you were serious – but a couple of things tipped me off that you weren’t. (She screams, ‘canned tomato juice and cigarettes?!?!’ gross). You can tell I’m a purist. I do Not have an addictive personality, but was raised by an alcoholic or two and married to three addictive types (not at the same time, esme – in case you’re reading! ;*0). Sigh.

    Chris at least cleaned it up. Still, if he goes to the store for a pint of Hagen-Dazs, I’ll find him happily snarfing away – you called it – in private. I’ve asked him before why he does this – it’s not like I’m going to a)read him the riot act or b)take it from him. So you did capture the essence of addiction, in that it does seem to be a private/secret affair. Likely due to shame.

    On another note, Chris did pick up smoking many years ago – what a disgusting habit(!) He quit a couple of years later, but said it was The single most difficult thing he ever had to accomplish. The man has a will of iron – sets his mind to, and will accomplish Anything he sets his mind to. He had to wean himself off with the patches and gum, and said he would never, ever (ever) go back. I wondered at the secrecy of your protagonist, along with his ‘occasional’ use. Which was a weird tip-off that it might not be true. I, for example, could occasionally use anything I like. But I don’t *choose* to do so – why on earth, when one always does have to face life again, would I bother with such distractions? Besides, I like feeling well.

    End of rant. Fun post. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! So I actually do know some people that can smoke a cigarette just every so often with no desire to do more, but I suspect such people were never big smokers to start with. My portrayal was an attempt of more of somebody who perhaps gave in to his vices, just every once in awhile in a nostalgic sort of way, but is at least in a state of acceptance about his current life, if not content by it. I guess more like someone whose opportunities to turn back to old vices is so rare that he tries to make the most out of it when it does happen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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