Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

May 4, 2014

Bad habits are hard to eliminate — but try

Somebody mentioned smoking on these pages recently, so I thought I'd put in my own two cents on the subject. I started smoking in college, during exam week. The problem was that I was too busy during the rest of the year ever to stop and study for my courses — at least that is what I told myself — because I worked almost every night on the college newspaper. So when exam time kicked in, I threw some all-nighters for study. And the best way to stay awake all night (especially if you don't regularly smoke) is to, well, smoke.



I admit, I had a little problem with throwing up the first few times but bodies are wonderful things. They adjust to a lot they shouldn't, and so every winter and every spring, at exam time, I smoked. (I'm not saying this was a good thing, but that's the way it was.) Luckily I didn't touch cigarettes the rest of the year, because I also sang in the college choir and the director (also my voice teacher) would have killed me if he had caught me smoking. So for years, I smoked at night, twice a year for about a week altogether and enjoyed it very much, thank you. (My exam grades were another matter, however.) After college, I didn't touch cigarettes until after I had three babies. (Not all at the same time.) That was when life got so hectic that the best relaxation I could find was to sit down in the kitchen every couple hours with a cigarette and a cup of coffee, ignoring the screaming habitat.



My father had always frowned mightily on smoking so I never smoked around him. Until one day he took up smoking mentholated cigarettes for a cold and kept smoking them. A couple a day and, I think, with a secret feeling of elation — the kind you get from doing forbidden things that are not so bad as you once thought they were. So I sat down with him one day as he was smoking, and lit up a cigarette of my own. And he never said a word about it! After that we smoked together quite companionably whenever he visited.) Scoff if you will, but there is nothing more relaxing than smoking. (And I mean tobacco.) When the kids were little was when I got addicted, but I am sure I was more hooked on the excuse to relax than I was on the actual smoking. No, really, I always found smoking pleasant enough — but
smelly. It was the sitting down and giving yourself permission to do nothing but relax that did the trick.



In those days there were vague rumors, but smoking was not generally agreed to be life-threatening. (Although if you had a brain in your head you would have to admit that drawing smoke into your lungs on a regular basis had to be some kind of feckless. The general stance was to ignore the obvious and hang on to the habit as long as you could, without looking like an idiot.) Anyway, I quit smoking four times. Once in New Jersey, once in Pittsburgh, once in Washington, and once, finally, in Cumberland. The problem with quitting smoking is that it was always too easy to start again, especially in those days. And every time I stopped smoking, I gained 20 pounds. Then when I took it up again, I more or less lost most of that gain — until the next time. I kept losing the same 20 pounds over and over again. I know they were the same, because I recognized them. It was depressing.



So when we moved to Cumberland, I decided that this was the moment. Away with cigarettes. Down with smoking. I would never buy a pack of cigarettes again. And I didn't! I managed to cut it out of most of my life, because it was starting to get expensive, and so with one fell swoop (whatever that is) I stopped smoking.



Except in one place which you will never guess.



In church!



Yes, things were really different in those days.



A good friend of mine in choir smoked regularly, and before you know it I was bumming a cigarette from him, two a week, one after choir practice, one after church. Oh, I paid him for them, a dollar a month, but we smoked together in the choir room. (Hard to believe, I know.) And once in a while, with other church smokers (and their cigarettes) at a church picnic, and such.



Until my conscience came to call. Somehow, my conscience never seems to stay very long when it visits, but in this case it did the trick. What if my friend died of lung cancer, I thought. (By then the bad news about smoking was widely known.) It would be partly my fault because I encouraged him. So — I smoked my last cigarette and have not had one since about 1980.



That's a lucky thing.



Because I could go back to it in a second.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.

1
Text Only
Maude McDaniel - Living
  • July gotcha down? Maybe these will help

    •In a hospital's Intensive Care Unit, patients always died in the same bed on Sunday morning, at about 11:00 a.m., regardless of their medical condition. This puzzled the doctors and some even thought it had something to do with the super natural. No one could solve the mystery as to why the deaths occurred around 11 a.m. Sunday, so a worldwide team of experts was assembled to investigate the cause of the incidents. The next Sunday morning, a few minutes before 11 a.m. all of the doctors and nurses nervously waited outside the ward to see for themselves what the terrible phenomenon was all about. Some were holding wooden crosses, prayer books, and other holy objects to ward off the evil spirits. Just when the clock struck 11, Pookie Johnson, the part-time Sunday sweeper, entered the ward and unplugged the life support system so he could use the vacuum cleaner.

    July 13, 2014

  • Hiccup cure you may find hard to swallow

    Let’s give a cheer for one of the things in the human experience that the scientific researchers haven’t fully figured out yet: how to cure hiccups! Somehow it kind of restores your faith in the world, doesn’t it?
    But don’t think they haven’t tried.

    June 28, 2014

  • She learned to laugh with relatives’ help

    Sometimes there are people in our lives whom we have never credited with all the influence they had on us when we were growing up.And now it is too late to thank them personally. I am about 50 years past due on this one (or two) but maybe somehow, somewhere they will get a hint of it — and — smile. Fondly, I think..

    June 15, 2014

  • Signs of aging and what comes with it

    It’s been awhile since I last informed you of new signs of old age, and meanwhile none of us have gotten any younger. (I’m working on it, I’m working on it.) I find one of the best things I can do to stay young is to read the obituaries. It reminds you that you are still alive and there are times in one’s life when that can be a serious concern. Of course, the trick is to avoid reading the obituaries for people you know, first checking the pictures for familiar faces. But for the folks you never met, they are remarkably invigorating, especially if they were older than you are. It gives you a goal in life — and we all need goals, right?

    June 1, 2014

  • Torn between failing in two different fields

    Which do I like better, singing or writing?
    That's a tough question to answer.
    Singing's got it all over writing as far as when I started (at about 5 in the church choir) but writing is certainly a close second. I have somewhere a collection of poems that I wrote from about eight on and I have the feeling that they are lost for a reason! As I remember, they were pretty awful, not at all the kind of effort an aspiring writer would be proud to quote 75 years later!

    May 19, 2014

  • Bad habits are hard to eliminate — but try

    Somebody mentioned smoking on these pages recently, so I thought I'd put in my own two cents on the subject. I started smoking in college, during exam week. The problem was that I was too busy during the rest of the year ever to stop and study for my courses — at least that is what I told myself — because I worked almost every night on the college newspaper. So when exam time kicked in, I threw some all-nighters for study. And the best way to stay awake all night (especially if you don't regularly smoke) is to, well, smoke.

    May 4, 2014

  • Trivial questions you don’t have to answer

    Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.

    April 20, 2014

  • Rusty writes about the nature of doghood

    I am a dog.
    Therefore I bark.
    I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
    I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?

    April 5, 2014

  • Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia

    When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.

    March 22, 2014

  • Beatles return us to what might have been

    Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

    March 8, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads