Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

Daily Linz 4 - Puffing Beast
by Lindsay Perigo

I have a confession to make. It is a landmark confession, crucial to my recovery from the deadly malaise of which I am about to speak.

I, Lindsay Perigo, am a nicoholic. I am addicted to nicotine.

Like all addicts, I have sought to conceal my addiction from the world. I have smoked cigarettes in lupin bushes, under cars, in tree-tops, behind bike sheds, in stormwater drains, under a teacher’s skirt (boy, did that make a funny smell), even in purpose-built tunnels dotted with lovingly-sharpened bamboo spikes on which the unwary would impale themselves before being able to discover me—anywhere but out in the open where my woeful weakness, my depraved dependence, my reprehensible reliance, my egregious enslavement, my hapless, hopeless, helpless habituation, would have been visible for all to see and mock.

Of course, my efforts at concealment were not entirely successful. Oh yes, some of my friends knew. So-called friends, that is. For instead of doing what true friends would have done—exposed me for my own good—they assisted me in my deceit, both of others and myself. To others, suspicious that my bouts of drooling might have something to do with nicotine deprivation, they pooh-poohed the idea. To me, they proffered soothing reassurances that of course I wasn’t an addict, as they planted another cigarette between my trembling lips and lit it. Such phony friends are a phenomenon so well recognised among addiction therapists that they have a name. To pronounce it of someone is to utter one of the most solemn condemnations one can make of a fellow human being. It is: Enabler! (Shudder.)

The worst enabler (shudder) I know is Marcus Bachler (double-shudder). At SOLOC 4, knowing that I had been nico-clean for four years, the bastard Bachler offered me a cigar. It was a classy Cuban number. I succumbed. I fell off the wagon down thin ice on a slippery slope on the thin end of a wedge. Soon I was puffing frantically on every cigarette, and then every butt, I could find, often in the company of another sly addict who professes to the world he/she gave up years ago.

You see, the sad thing about addiction is that it’s always there. It never leaves you. You can be nico-clean for years, but you’re still a nicoholic. The addiction always lurks, a drooling beast within awaiting its chance to leer up and engulf you yet again. Even a recovered nicoholic is a nicoholic still.

Returning from SOLOC 4, away from that malevolent Marcus, I beat my demon back again. For six months I was clean. Then, in short order, came a series of traumas. Joe Maurone started being nice to me. Phil Coates stopped writing about civility. Phil Coates wrote something funny. Machan stopped musing for a day. Michael Stuart Kelly did a post under ten thousand words. Michael Stuart Kelly did a post that didn’t say LOL. Jeff Riggenbach paid someone a compliment. Katdaddy caught cold and lost her purr. Casey Fahy criticised the ARI. James Valliant proposed to Barbara Branden. Andy Postema proposed to Michael Stuart Kelly. Tim Sturm proposed to Julia Brent, and she accepted. Joe Rowlands embraced Hinduism and became a vegetarian. Chris Sciabarra renounced dialectics and—double whammy!—said a rude word at the same time: “Fuck dialectics,” he said. Adam Reed confessed to fancying eighty-year-olds in wheelchairs. James Kilbourne admitted to a mistake. Andrew Bissell took up pomo-wanking. Marty Lewinter went a whole day without posting a joke. Derek McGovern announced that Mario Lanza sucked.

It was all too much.

What was an addict to do?

What did an addict do?

You got it.

What is an addict going to do now?

Yes, he’s going to try again to walk the road of recovery and redemption. He asks for your thoughts and prayers, your good vibes, your warm fuzzies, your touchy-feelies, your caring-and-sharing, your positive reinforcements ...

But since he can’t do anything till all those arrive, he’s going to take some more beastly puffs of “fire tamed for man’s pleasure” in the meantime and savour these words from one of his heroes, Robert G. Ingersoll:

“These leaves make friends, and celebrate with gentle rites the vows of peace. They have given consolation to the world. They are the companions of the lonely—the friends of the imprisoned, of the exile, of workers in mines, of fellers of forests, of sailors on the desolate seas. They are the givers of strength and calm to the vexed and wearied minds of those who build with thought and dream the temples of the soul. … Within their magic warp and woof some potent, gracious spell imprisoned lies, that, when released by fire, doth softly steal within the fortress of the brain and bind in sleep the captured sentinels of care and grief. These leaves are the friend of the fireside, and their smoke, like incense, rises from myriads of happy homes.”
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