Saturday night, I went up to Berry St. as usual. Around eleven, so I couldn't drink enough to get really plastered. At the Pub was a guy I've known for a year or so, a recent TCU grad who, like many, moved here from overseas and decided not to go back. Let's call him Jack. Well, Jack's a pretty good friend, if 'friend' means someone I hardly know but for the bars and little snippets of conversation here and there. At any rate, we've shared dozens of cigarettes, always mine or someone else's (he's a socialite, a politician, one who doesn't smoke except where people can see him making such connections). Some time in March, after he last had asked me for a smoke, I warned him that that might be the last, because I was considering quitting. He had laughed, as the 'q' word comes up often in the college bars, to little avail. This Saturday, though, he came up to me and asked for a cig while lamenting his recent troubles keeping his computers running in the storms (his latest scheme, I guess, these custom-built computers). When I told him that I'd quit, he laughed much as before, until he realized that I wasn't joking. "You really did, didn't you?" "Yeah", I answered, although what I call quitting is probably not the same as what he would call it. He stayed and talked, then moved on to a group of Frogs, as usual. The way he looked at me, though, said that he's not going to be asking me again, and, for that, probably will find fewer reasons to stop and talk to me. So I guess you can say I've lost a friend, of sorts. A pity, when so many of the people I know around Fort Worth are connected by not much more than the odd nicotene-fueled small conversation.
It's things like my Saturday night with Jack that people who have never smoked cannot seem to understand when they talk about how poisonous it is. A lot of things in this life aren't particularly healthy, and everything leads to the grave in the end; but our lives can't just be about trying to stay away from bad things, or we'd never get out from between our parents' legs. It's odd to think that I've heard how quitting smoking is as bad or worse than quitting heroin and figured that that might be true. Nonsense, at least for my part. The few of you who have kicked the horse would probably laugh at someone who tells you that, and I'd be right there with you, now. It hasn't been very hard for me yet, and certainly not physically painful; but there are moments, like this Saturday, when I wish that I had one, if only to give it away.