I was completely obsessed with cigarettes and with smoking by the time I’d reached the age of nine. I’d probably become obsessed with the whole business long before that; but it was at that age I realized I’d formed a unbreakable connection in my mind between smoking and intense sexual longing. There was a lot of smoking going on around me back in those “Mad Men” ‘sixties, and there was a lot of longing going on inside me. I wonder how many other nine year old boys were as horny as I was.
I was a smoking appreciator when I was young and grew to appreciate smoking more and more throughout my teen years. High school was where my classmates, one by one, took up the habit. Every few days, it seemed, a new girl entered into the wonderful world of nicotine dependence; and each new initiate added her own episode to my ever growing collection of sexual fantasies. Horny I was; but I wasn’t fantasizing about banging a girl, or undressing her, or even making out with her. I was looking out for a cute and friendly sweetie my own age; but I was more interested in her butts than her butt. I wanted my very own girl, somebody who was into tobacco as much as I was. I dreamed we would have lots and lots of alone time that we could devote to smoking. I imagined us encouraging each other’s habit when we were together and recalling each other’s encouragement when we weren’t.
I might have had an idyllic adolescence but for the fact that my family — at least on my mother’s side — was rabidly opposed to cigarette use. As if that weren’t bad enough, schools and churches and social groups for kids my age were all assaulting us with little “talks” given by sick and deformed folks who’d decided to place all the blame for their health problems on their prior smoking habit. My teenhood was one long health warning. The weird thing about it, though, is that both my parents were heavy smokers. My mom especially — she puffed her way through two to three packs every day. That actually made it worse because she presented herself to me and my siblings as a “negative example” and denounced the practice more enthusiastically than anyone.
“I must have been insane to start,” she told us repeatedly, “I will never, never forgive myself — and I will never forgive any of you if you so much as touch a cigarette!” Mom, of course, was more than willing to waive the ‘touching’ prohibition whenever her own supply of smokes was low and she had to send one of us to the 7/11 to replenish it. In those days, nobody carded for cigarettes and a ten year old could buy a carton of Pall Malls without attracting attentiion.
So, it was like this: my impulse to smoke, and my terrified inhibition against yielding to that impulse, were two colossally massive tectonic plates just below the surface of my psyche. These opposing power centers were constantly colliding and I was forever being plagued by emotional “earthquakes” along the fault line.
Oh, the joys of being me!
So I kept my desires a secret. I planted my love for smoking deep into the recesses of my unconscious where it took root and yielded full blown neuroses. As much as I fantasized about finding a smoking girlfriend to help me figure out how to blend cigarettes with love making, I ran from any female who smoked. I convinced everyone, including myself, that I was repulsed by the habit. “Don’t set me up with a smoker,” I told my friends, “I’ll only throw her cigarettes away.”
Yeah, and after I got done hassling girl smokers, I’d beat off — compulsively fantasizing about them lighting one Newport off another. Do you think I had some “issues”?
Are you ready for this? I managed to make it to my twenty-fifth birthday without ever once lighting up. That’s right, I didn’t smoke cigarette; I just obsessed about them. Every single waking moment.
Then, in 1979, I got the opportunity to take a job that sounded really, really good to me. The catch is that it required me to move to a town hundreds of miles away. A town where I knew nobody, and nobody knew me. Are thinking what I think you’re thinking? Oh, you’re way ahead of me! I accepted the job, found an apartment, and minutes after moving in I was taking a stroll to a nearby cigarette vending machine (remember them?)
By the time I got my quivering hand around that fateful pack of Marlboro Reds (still my brand) I was being carried along on a tidal wave of surreal emotions. I hadn’t even pulled one cigarette out and I was completely buzzed! I was staggering through a mind-altering haze of overwrought anticipation, but I managed to stumble my way back to my new digs.
Then came the moment! I lit up, took a drag, and was completely transported by the pleasure of it all. I’m not sure how deeply I drew in that first puff, but I pulled the second and all the subsequent inhales as deeply as strength allowed — and, back then, I was young and strong and in the pink of health. It’s a good thing I was alone, though, because before I was half-way though that first smoke I was ripping open my pants in order to free up my fired up hard-on for masturbation duty.
I’d burned my way down to the filter and my hand was soaked in jism and I wasn’t through. I wasn’t through smoking and I wasn’t through jerking off. I’d hardly begun, in fact, because by the time another half hour had passed I was the proud possessor of an ashtray containing seven completely spent butts and a penis that had managed to explode three times successively without ever once softening up and taking a break.
You think I’m kidding. You think I’m pulling your leg. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. That’s just how it was when I finally overcame the enormous social pressure that had kept me a non-smoker. I was worn out and woozy and my stomach was a little ‘touchy’. I’d barely scratched the surface of my backed-up demand for nicotine, but I’d made a start. A pretty good start.