“Will, the pneumonia patient - I got him to quit smoking.”

“Forever? No ‘last one’? ‘Cause the last ones are better than sex. Trust me, I’ve had about a thousand of them.”

I don’t know why I ever smoked a second cigarette; hell, I don’t know why anyone does. Your first smoke tastes like burning dirt, it makes you smell bad, and you cough violently through the entire experience. So why does anyone ever try a second one?

Part of the reason I started was (ironically) the smell. I loved the smell of my dad’s cheap cigarettes on a cold winter morning. I always liked the smell of his pipe when he smoked it, but cigarettes only smelled good on cold mornings. By the time he quit smoking, I was 16 and had started in on it myself.

I’ve only recently discovered that smoking is an acquired taste - for me, anyway. I learned early on that beer is an acquired taste (my older cousins have taught me more than I’ll ever realize), and cigars are a taste I never cared to acquire. Similarly, you start to enjoy the taste of cigarettes after a while. But, like all things we enjoy, you start to take it for granted sooner or later. I usually smoke 3 or 4 cigarettes a day, aside from a pack-a-day stint I did for a week last fall (this is obviously not the recommended serving size). Last week sometime, I was out of money and on my way home from work sometime around midnight. As I smoked my last Camel, I realized how wonderful it tasted. Knowing that it was the last of the pack and I didn’t have money for more made it all the better. Unfortunately, I managed to get another pack shortly after. Fortunately, I got to savor that last cigarette again, twenty smokes later.

I think it’s time for another break from smoking. I’m not going to say I’m quitting, because we all know that never works out. For the time being, though, I’m done. I should have stopped months ago, before hockey ended - I could have been twice as good if my bursts of speed weren’t stopped short by the inability to breathe. Now, the months of accumulated smoke since the last time I “quit” are taking their toll, and I find myself again battling the unending sore throat. It’s time for a break, and if I can hold out long enough, maybe I can kick it for good.

And if not, I’ll get to enjoy that last cigarette again some other time.