My phone rang fairly late one evening
during the summer of 2000. I was in bed, but my son was still up. On the
phone was a nurse from the nursing home in Vevay, Indiana. My mother
was staying there recuperating from knee surgery — her left knee. She
had her right one replaced a year earlier.
September 22, 2013, around seven o’clock in the morning, I smoked my last Pall
Mall cigarette. It was the last one in my pack and the last one I ever intended
to inhale and exhale. I was going to give up tobacco for good.
Walking home, I remembered being in a decent mood before I
entered the store and now I felt pissed off. I’m in that damn Walgreens
at least three times a week spending plenty of money. Why the hell
would a cashier try to squeeze a little bit more out of me? And what
business is it of hers if I want to drink Diet Coke? If I wanted to
drink a gallon of Tide detergent, that’s my business and not hers.
As luck would have it, or maybe it wasn’t luck at all,
right across the street from the office was a bar called “Chuck’s
Rockin’ Ranch.” But I never went to Chuck’s or drank on Thursdays. That was Seinfeld night. I didn’t want my head to be all fuzzy watching that show. It was always the highlight of my lonesome week.