Being the curious little tacker that I was, I once asked my father how old he was when he first got trolleyed.
“Me?” he said, “I’ve never been drunk!”
And being the adolescent pisskop that I was, I then asked him what he did for fun as a youngster.
“I once threw buckets of dirty water on my grandmother’s fence,” he confessed.
And I decided not to admit that I had stolen money from his bedroom to buy weed.
It’s 9am and I’ve been up for four hours. I woke up at the butt-crack of dawn because I had a bad dream where my brother died – the fourth in a string of nightmares this week involving dead animals, cutting off my face with a razor, and being raped by wild bush-pigs.
No, I haven’t been smoking crack before bed every night. I’ve been wearing nicotine patches.
Nicorette is possibly the greatest legal substance I have come across in the course of my adult life. Nobody knows you’re wearing it and you get all the wonderful benefits of nicotine seeping directly into your skin without the pesky process of smoking, smelling like an ashtray, and the various safety risks associated with holding a flaming object in your mouth. I can wear my nicotine patch on the bus, in restaurants, at the office, around babies, and right next to the bar when I’m out drinking.
The problem is that rather than overcoming my addiction to nicotine, Nicorette has simply shifted the mode in which I absorb it. While wearing a patch, I am calm, relaxed, energetic and productive. The second the patch is removed, I feel antsy, yell at coworkers, pick fights with my boyfriend and cry. I also smoke cigarettes.
Over the past four months, I’ve noticed a developing pattern in my nicotine use. From Monday to Friday, I wear patches (approx $20 worth), and try not to think about cigarettes. It’s hard work, especially when a lot of my friends smoke, but I often make it through the whole week without smoking once. This is not only due to Nicorette, but also stems from a strong sense of self-control, my ability to overcome temptations, and my incredible resolve. I like all these qualities in myself so much that I want to reward myself for them at the end of the week. I do this by having a cigarette.
Oh yes, as soon as 5pm rolls around on a Friday, I pack up my desk, rip off my patch and smoke until I feel sick. This is sometimes achieved within 2-3 cigarettes, but if I’m planning on drinking over the weekend, I usually just buy a deck in anticipation that I will be a walking chimney until the following Monday.
Now I’m no accountant (hang on, yes I am) but if I used to smoke two packets of cigarettes a week (~$26) and now I wear 15mg patches 5 days a week and smoke one packet of cigarettes over the remaining two days ($20 + $13), I’m really no better off financially.
Why is this stuff so fucking expensive? I run out of money, try to go patchless, SMOKE and then wind up right back at the start of the Nicorette 16-week goddamn program. Sure, I fall off the bandwagon every now and then, but isn’t that to be expected? God didn’t create the world in a day – he created it in SIX days, and then he took a cigarette break.
Last week, during a quiet moment at the office, I completed a “Dating Profile” Quiz on OKCupid.com. After I filled in my age, gender, sexual orientation, and general views on dating etiquette, I came across the following question:
Who would you rather walk in on you while masturbating?
a) your mother, or
b) your father
I’m sorry, what? Where is secret option c) – I’d rather tend bee hives naked with a daisy in my arsehole?
The wording of the question wasn’t crystal clear either. Are my parents barging in with their hands down their pants while I calmly sit and drink peppermint tea, or am I wanking with the door open? And which scenario would require the greatest number of therapy sessions to combat the resulting drug and alcohol addiction and chilling nightmares?
When I completed the quiz, it told me I was “The Window Shopper.” Apparently, I am slutty with my eyes, and then discerning with my hands. I figure that’s better than the other way around. But then this high-brow evaluation told me, “You tend to obsess over men who you have only recently met.” I snorted and shook my head in disgust, then read every wall-to-wall Facebook conversation of the guy I picked up the weekend before.
Unless I appoint myself a title, I generally do not like to be assigned labels or slotted into any particular category of society. Earlier this year, I announced to my boyfriend at the time that I was planning on stopping smoking. (Note: “Stopping” sounds easier than “quitting”, as I stop things constantly – my car, the dryer, anybody unbuttoning my jeans, etc – while “quitting” implies defeat, and “giving up” has connotations of abstaining from something desirable. I am fussy with my verbs.) “Don’t worry,” the boyfriend said supportively, patting me on the head, “You’ll smoke again. That’s what smokers do.”
Smokers. Excuse me? Who’s a smoker? Admittedly, I enjoyed the odd cigarette – up to half a pack a day – most days since I was fifteen, but that did not make me a Smoker. Did it?? When asked whether I smoked, I would usually reply, “Only socially. And alone.” There was nothing false about that statement, but it generally did not sit comfortably with others.
How many times does one need to commit an act before being assigned a title and stuffed into a pigeon-hole? I have kissed girls, but I’m not a lesbian. I have prayed, but I’m not a Christian. I have stolen, but I’m not a thief. I’ve taken drugs, but I’m not a junkie.
To be honest, I find it offensive that the internet so often requests me to define my entire self by ticking a bunch of boxes. And whenever it graciously allows me the freedom to “describe myself in a few paragraphs”, I usually respond with the only thing genuinely applicable:
I am Annik.