After that debacle, I started on Lexapro, which, in my doctor's view, is among the "purest" of anti-depressants. It worked well except for making me a eunuch. The folks at Glaxo SmithKline, the makers of Wellbutrin, apparently know this as they have the following questionnaire for use in asking questions about intimacy and your current use of an anti-depressant:
|Do you have any of the following concerns?|
|1. Difficulty/inability to reach orgasm||Yes||No|
|2. Decreased sexual interest or pleasure||Yes||No|
|3. Decreased genital sensation||Yes||No|
|4. Partner's concern about changes in our sex life||Yes||No|
|5. Decreased frequency of sexual activity||Yes||No|
|6. Decreased frequency of sexual thoughts, urges, or fantasies||Yes||No|
|7. Men only: Soft or absent erections||Yes||No|
|8. Women only: Dryness or pain during sexual activity||Yes||No|
Can you say YES YES YES!!! I know I could. So, now, no Lexapro. It's not even a matter of whether I have a place to put it. It's a matter of having something more substantial than a veggie hot dog (they're, cold, soft and mushy, generally) tucked away in my bikinis, okay? It's the potential for the ritual to commence with the appropriate totem, or, at my age, relic at hand. Ahem.
So, back to the smoking. As soon as I was off the Wellbutrin, I could swallow a pack a day, twice as much as what I would normally smoke. It didn't matter what brand, either. I became a smoking slut. Sip water, my ass. I'll kill you if I don't get my oral intake of nicotine, tar, CO2 and god knows what else comes through the "filter" of what my daughter sue to call, until she, too, gave up, death sticks.
Part of the fun of smoking is the ritual of it. The tantalizing package, alternatively gently unwrapped or torn open to reveal its juicy innards, waiting to be touched, stroked. The feel of the rigid tube slowly sliding from the package and into one's mouth, grasping its firm end between one's lips, salivating slightly. Touching and patting oneself, at first slowly and soon in panic because SOMEONE STOLE MY GATDAN LIGHTER! The mood is shattered like a rose dropped on a marble table-top after undergoing instant freezing with Nitrogen. What's worse, one has smoker's blue balls as a result of the unrequited desire to farking smoke!
See, smokers are addicts. Take away the object of their addiction and they become a sad lot. An angry mob. The force of black revolution. Madness unhinged. And a big part of smoking as with every addiction is the ritual itself. For heroin addicts, it's the buy, the works, the rush. Gamblers prep, pray and lament their (ultimate) loss. Relationship addicts court, love then self-destruct themselves and their relationship. And in all rituals, there are the symbols of the ritual. If you're a Roman Catholic and go to Mass, there's the silvery-ball-thing with smoke coming out of it, the cracker/biscuit thing with matching chalice and those white robes (KKK, watch out! these dudes have a millennium plus on ya) and lots of pew aerobics. For the professional Pimp, there is the Caddy, jewel-encrusted cane with blade expertly concealed in the hilt, also known as a Pimp Stick and, or course, hos. Not the gardening implement - get yer mind out the garden, aight? For smokers, the symbol of catharsis and change is the lighter.
Fire, oh glorious saviour of Man, you keepeth the cold at bay and the saber-toothed tigers away from our cave. You light the furnaces in which we forged bronze. Oh mighty Destroyer and Resurrector, you are why I Flick My Bic (TM). For with Fire, I can erase this deepest of needs, that which is the desire to deeply inhale the carcinogens in your son, the Cigarette (or Cigar or Pipe, but who have you seen smoking a pipe lately, anyhow?)
Ever go out for a quick smoke at work during the Union-mandated 10 minute morning break only to discover that you didn't have so much as a flint to light your fire? Argh. Will . . . not . . . make . . . it . . . to . . . lunch . . .. You might look around on the ground for a discarded book of matches, even if there's only the slight chance that it'll be dry or not empty. Ever wait for the last minutes of that Sacred Break of Smoking, hoping that someone will pass by with a match. This is why most smokers will carry at least an extra book of matches, a cheapo exploding Chinese lighter AND a min-BIC as back-up, perhaps tucked into a sock cuff.
Some have a little more class than that and might very well have a thousand dollar lighter, gold-covered and jewel-encrusted. (The one shown at left is a ST Dupont model that costs four grand, source elighters.com) Others will have novelty cases for their BICs depicting their disdain for the world or a mini-tryptych devoted to a NASCAR hero. Some, like me, will have a little Lighter Leash attached the the bottom of their disposable (ha) light so that the loanee will not be able to pocket this essential tool of yours, later being mysteriously hard-to-find, both person and lighter. Don't laugh - I happen to have this thing and guess what? I've had the same lighter for at about six months. Pretty clever, Mr. Bond.
What then, should the punishment be for the malcontent who takes it upon himself to thieve the very symbol of your nicotinic existence? Death by Oogooboogoo? Entombment in the cement pilings of a new shopping mall? Chopping off of otherwise perfectly good limbs and/or digits? Probably not. But it just ain't right.
The lighter is most assuredly a symbol. My brother had a Zippo from his time in Nam, man, with his unit insignia and scratching that was the initials of his best jungle-mate and fellow traveler, killed there shortly afterward in the assault in '68 otherwise known as the Tet Offensive. So, this lighter, though it carries the potential for death, says that one can survive, both at the moment and when pondering the memory. In fact, he recently made a particular trip to the sea where he tossed said lighter into the froth atop Davy Jones' locker.
So, teachers, leave my fire alone. Get your grubby mits offa my sh*t, y'all or I might have to Tyson ya!