Saturday, January 1, 2011

It was 20 years ago today

Jan. 1, 1991 I finally quit smoking after 16 years. I began smoking at age 16. Just to be cool I guess. My best buddy smoked, as did his big brother who we thought was the coolest. We'd even take cigarettes on our Boy Scout camping trips! I remember our summer week long camping trip when I took 3 packs and ran out before camp ended. My buddies brother had a carton. He had experience. A cigarette was needed on every trip to the latrine. We had a great idea and rolled cedar bark with toilet paper and lit that up in the latrine. I don't know how we got this past the scout leaders, but we did.
My Dad smoked too and I would steal some of his cigarettes. He bought cartons at a time and kept them in his car trunk so I figured he wouldn't miss a pack or two a week. My Dad finally quit after about 40 years of smoking due to an illness.
In my mid twenties I was smoking a pack a day. Even though I tried to convince my self otherwise, smoking is no fun and dangerous. Two times I almost burned the house down. One day I emptied ashtrays in the kitchen trash. A few minutes later the trash can was ablaze! Another time I finished smoking a cigarette, dropped the butt on the back door deck and stepped on it to make sure it was extinguished. It wasn't. Good thing I went back out a few minutes later. The Deck was smoldering.
I credit my brother for getting me to quit. A couple of years ago I found out my Mother was behind it too. She told my brother that he had to do something about my unhealthy lifestyle.
On a trip down from Kansas City, my brother gave me his old bicycle. It was December 1989 and he told me I'd better be ready for a 100K bike ride in May, when he was returning, or he'd kill me. I knew he wouldn't kill me, but I didn't want to let him down. He may beat me up!
I trained but continued smoking, albeit not as much. I had no choice but to cut down. I was running out of breath on my training rides. Giving up smoking is not easy. It takes work and will power. The morning cigarette with coffee and the after meal smokes were too good to let go. I hung on to these for a year. And sneaked in some others. Eventually it was down to two a day. The morning one and the after dinner smoke. Also, cigarettes were up to $1.50 a pack. Outrageous! I don't see how people pay $7.00 a pack today!
After a great 30 mile ride in the Texas Hill Country with a good friend of mine, I had trouble catching my breath. And I asked myself, "What do you enjoy most? Bike riding or smoking?" Bike riding won.
Thanks Mom, Thanks Andy.

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