AN ELEVEN STEP PROGRAM TO AVOID SMOKING UNDER STRESS
July, 2005

I have devised my own simple 11- step program, which sure kept me away fromthe Marlboros during a stressful time; it may or may not work for you. 11steps, and not 12? Yes. If 11 don't do it, then 12 sure as hell won't be anybetter. Not in this particular case...

Step 1:
Visit your dentist.
This should involve only getting about 3 hours of sleep the night before, since dental work is...well, I'm ashamed to admit it, but it's JUST PATHOLOGICALLY TERRIFYING IN THE EXTREME. Oh, yeah-- and you've ALREADY been told that "...the reason for that pain when you chew is that you've lost a
piece of a filling in that molar. Now, maybe we can save it and not haveto grind the tooth down and put a crown on. That old filling is pretty shot, though..."

Step 2:
Be absolutely sure that your dentist uses enough Novocain that you cannot feel your head at all. Have lots of "Whirrrrrr! Bzzzzzzz! Zeeeee-zeeeee-zeeeeee!" noises going on in your mouth for the better part ofan hour. "This new filling material is light-activated" he says, shining what looks like a goddam laser beam in there. "Yeah; we put in a layer of the filling material and then we shine this light on it, and it sets right up. Then we do another layer, and more light--and the really nice thing is that you can eat right away!" Uh-huh; just what I want to do-- go and chow down while my lips and tongue are on vacation somewhere. Plus, that "light-activated" bullshit just sounds like science fiction to me. I think he was making shadow puppets in my mouth to amuse his dental hygienist.

Step 3:
Pay handsomely for this abuse and fabrication, and then-- because you're too rocky for public transportation--  *walk* about 3 miles to the shopping mall where you vowed you were going to stop and buy some printer ink. The visit was so traumatic that a 3 mile walk seems for some reason like a GOOD
idea... Arrive there completely sweaty, out of breath, and with lips that now feel like a catcher's mitt has been sewn to your face-- just so you're feeling really sharp and handsome.

Step 4:
Decide that not having any feeling in your face should be balanced out by not having any balance or language skills to speak of, and have a seat at Chevy's Mexican restaurant. Order one of their "Ultimate Margaritas"-- with Reposada  Tequila, fresh orange and lime juices and Cointreau. Dribble most of this down your shirt in an attempt to make your lips form a proper seal with the rim of the glass. Order two more, just so the splotches on your shirt are evenly distributed enough to compliment the rapidly-drying sweat stains.

Step 5:
Realize that you're so seriously impaired on several levels that you're either going to have to tell the waiter in no uncertain terms to stop laughing at you, or prepare to defend himself. Realize that a couple of busboys are also sniggering, openly. Decide whether or not it's worth pretending that you've recently had a stroke. Get check. Leave.

Step 6:
Stagger to the multiplex cinema and buy a ticket for...whatever the hell is showing next. Forget popcorn, Raisinettes or any of that other crap. You'd probably chew your own face off and not notice it. Make a beeline for the men's room and sway back and forth as you belt out a few verses of Leonard Cohen's "Dress Rehearsal Rag" (which is, for some horrifying reason, the most appropriate ditty you can think of at the moment) as you try to simultaneously direct most of your stream into the proper receptacle and not saturate your shoes. Hope that the chosen object was, indeed, the urinal, and it just didn't flush for some reason. Pray that it really, truly was not the trash can...

Step 7:
Stagger into the theater and take a seat way in back, so you won't alarm the other three people in there for the matinee. Fall asleep as the trailers start to roll.

Step 8:
Wake up as the usher shakes you and asks you to please stop snoring because you're annoying the other three people in there for the matinee.

Step 9:
Realize you're sitting thru SIN CITY-- containing quite possibly the weirdest visuals you've seen onscreen in ages. These will cause you to snort and hoot and laugh uproariously. And possibly inappropriately, further upsetting the other three CRANKY, HUMORLESS MOTHERFUCKERS in there for the matinee.

Step 10:
Tell the usher to piss off (or "PIZH AUVE!" if you can't quite form the exact words you're trying to mouth) when he comes back to ask you to quiet down.

Step 11:
Leave; get a cab; go home and crash in your recliner until some sense of feeling returns to your head and some semblance of sense returns to your person and demeanor.

See? You didn't smoke at all! Never even thought about it! Feel happy and smug and pat yourself on the back. Not too vigorously, because balance is still elusive...

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