Ready to kick butts with community help

Published 10:11 am Thursday, July 23, 2009

Excuse me as I take a deep breath. Oh, and If I appear to be a little cranky, please accept my apology.

I’m PMSing.

This isn’t a gender-specific sort of ailment. What I suffer from is the result of years of addiction. I have Post Marlboro Syndrome.

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A little more than three weeks ago, I smoked my last cigarette. After 23 years of treating my lungs like a cat treats its litter box, I finally decided to quit.

That noise you just heard was my kids and family screaming “finally!!!”

My last cigarette came from a fresh pack. I opened it just for that one last smoke. Then I poured water on the other 19 coffin nails, squished the pack and tossed it in file 13.

I’m done.

Unlike the 50 times I’ve quit before, this time I’m serious. But even with my constant companion, nicotine gum, this quitting thing isn’t easy.

That’s why I need to take my story public. I need anyone who knows me to hold me accountable.

So, here’s my offer to you:

If you see me with a cigarette in my mouth, I owe you $100 on the spot. If I’m not carrying the cash with me, drive me to the nearest ATM or threaten to tell my son, Andy. You’ll get your money!

Offering me cigarettes is considered cheating and voids the deal.

My offer to our entire community is this:

If anyone provides proof that I have been smoking, I have to perform 60 hours of community service, in a high traffic area, wearing a sign that says “SMOKER” on the front and “SMELLY BUTT LOVER” on the back.

Maybe I should also be forced to pull an oxygen cart. I’ll get with Judge Clark Collins on all of the particulars.

I’ve enjoyed more than three weeks of breathing the way I was intended to breathe, but sometimes the PMS takes control. I beg smokers to exhale in my face. I actually get jealous of others who are inhaling cancer into their lungs.

When you’ve done something for more than 8,000 consecutive days, you kind of get used to it.

Then I think about the stench I have been oblivious to for more than two decades: Smoker odor. I can’t believe I walked around for so long smelling like that. I can’t believe I let my house and car smell like that.

I also think about all of the kids I see walking around with lung darts sticking out of their mouths. I was one of them once. I thought it was cool, too.

Now, I’m a 41-year old addict.

But this addict is quitting.

One hundred dollars and the threat of being ridiculed in public says I can do it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take another deep breath.

Man, that’s awesome!

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at or by visiting his website,