Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm up to two imaginary packs a day.

I've never smoked, but when I was in my late teens and early '20s literally all of my friends did.  The anti-smoking laws were less harsh back then, so almost any place we hung out - restaurants, coffee shops, etc. - they'd be puffing away.

Witnessing all this smoking has had a weird after-effect on me: to this day, any time I'm about to attend a slightly nerve-wracking social event and I'm anxiously imagining how it'll go, Imaginary Me smokes.

Here's the thing: although I'm emphatically anti-cigarette, I've always been jealous of the thousand different nonchalant ways that smokers can occupy their hands.  In real-life social situations, I deal with my anxiety by drinking way too much (not getting drunk necessarily; I mean taking a sip of my beverage whenever I feel awkward*.  The beverage itself is usually water).  In imaginary social situations, I can fiddle with my cigarette pack, or make a big production of taking a cigarette from the pack and lighting it, or tap the ashes off the tip to punctuate something I just said.  Also, I could initiate conversation with strangers by asking for a light.  Cigarette culture is huge; it contains vast possibilities.

I'm trying to quit picturing myself smoking, though; it's a bad habit with no practical advantages.  Also, I don't want Imaginary Me contracting metaphysical emphysema or pretend-cancer.

*Constantly. And yes, between my nervousness and the steady stream of water consumption I do end up having to scurry to the bathroom every ten minutes; thanks for asking.

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