Fighting Off The Tequila-Sucking Succubus

I quit smoking while on a camping trip to Solitaire in the middle of Namibia’s nowhere lands seventeen years ago.

It all began when I woke up in the early hours of the morning feeling as if I were in the middle of some sort of heart attack or brain attack. I fought my way out of the tent, half waking my girlfriend who seemed strangely unmoved by the fact that I was dying. I put my head back into the tent to explain that I may be in need of urgent medical attention.

However, the prospect of an untimely death was put on hold while my girlfriend’s face morphed into something resembling a demon. Not one of those terrifying bowel-loosening demons, but more of a mischievous one. A succubus, perhaps. I took off into the night, naked and scared.

After stumbling through the darkened desert calling my name, she eventually found me slumped against an anthill, blue with trauma. Her face had returned to normal so I returned to the tent.

I was convinced the episode had been caused by smoking. She disagreed, saying it was blindly obvious that the episode was caused by drinking one and a half bottles of tequila before bed.

“Perhaps,” I said, “but I’m not taking any chances.” I tossed the last of my cigarettes into the pristine desert and got us the hell out of there and back to Windhoek as fast as possible.

It was the best thing I ever did. I could taste food again, my skin cleared up, my teeth grew back, I learned to read Braille, appeared on Oprah and won two free tickets to the International Space Station.

Some people, however, have reported negative side-effects after quitting. Morbid obesity is one. Wanting to split your partner’s head open with a blunt machete when they interrupt you is another.

In order to keep my weight down and stay out of jail, I decided to smoke only once my blood-alcohol level passed the 0.08 mark. Research has shown that while beer can also lead to the gratuitous eating of bar snacks and unprovoked outbreaks of violence, it’s a lot harder when both hands are occupied.

I have just returned from Thailand where cigarette boxes are covered in the most appalling photographs of rotten lungs and putrefying hearts. I was so shaken that I needed a smoke to calm my nerves.

A recent cold front sent my blood-alcohol levels through the roof, so I rushed off to the shop on the corner and bought a box of Camel Mild. Right away, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Something was wrong.

The box was no longer yellow. Nor did it have my beloved one-humped camel staring vacantly into the distance. There was no tiny oasis, no little pyramid.

“What is this?” I asked the callow youth behind the counter. “A new box,” he said. Damn your eyes, RJ Reynolds. How dare you bring out a new box without our permission?

I picked it up with long fingers and retired to my vehicle to study it at close quarters. The top of the good old box used to read: “Danger: Smoking Can Kill You.” I always liked that. It meant I could lie on the beach and stare death in the face without having to go skydiving or scale some stupid rock face.

The top of the new box read: “Danger: Tobacco Is Addictive”. Hmm. Perhaps all was not lost. In many ways, “addictive” is a far more erotically charged word than “kill”.

A lot of women are wary of a man who doesn’t particularly care whether he lives or dies. For a start, it usually means he lacks the inherent ability to make any sort of real money. Certainly, they will sleep with him once or twice, but they won’t have his babies or put him on their medical aid.

However, they can’t resist a man who dabbles in something that could turn him into an addict. Then he becomes a challenge, someone to help, to nurse and, ultimately, to transform into a spineless robot who will slavishly do their bidding for all eternity.

I can live with the new warning. Then, on closer inspection, I noticed that the Camelus Dromedarius had transmogrified into something Jackson Pollock might have spat out had his mouth been full of paint instead of alcohol when he rolled his car for the last time on August 11, 1956.

At the base of the box the words Limited Edition were boldly printed. When I saw this I rushed back into the shop and bought several dozen packs. Bright blue background, funky pixelated camel – who could tell for how long these objets d’art would be available?

I turned the pack over and read the back. It said: “Nicotine in tobacco is a drug which acts on the brain and nerves. Most smokers are dependent on nicotine. That is why they feel uncomfortable and get cravings when they go without smoking for a while.”

This is meant to be a deterrent?

We may as well stick up notices in gyms saying: “Women in oestrus act on the brain and nerves. Most men are dependent on women. That is why they feel uncomfortable and get cravings when they go without sex for a while.”

Or post warnings in banks: “Money is a drug which acts on the brain and nerves. Most people are dependent on money. That is why they feel uncomfortable and get cravings when they go without spending for a while.”

It’s all a pack of filthy lies and if there were some other way for the human body to produce smoke rings, I would be there in a heartbeat.



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