I’ve been trying to get TOM to quit smoking ever since I discovered my 6th grade health textbook. Sandwiched in between photos of a uterus and a pair of men’s balls was a horrid image of ash-covered, blackened lungs. My dad’s lungs. Losing my mother to cancer only exacerbated the fear that my pop would someday die a too-early death thanks to stogies. Five years ago, I offered to move home from NYC if he quit smoking. I bought him The Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. I said I would pay for patches, meds, gum, candy, robotic cigs, whatever it takes. Needless to say, I moved home a year ago only to wave smoke out of my face.*
A conversation we had last week:
Me: Do you still have that Easy Way To Stop Smoking book I bought you a couple years ago?
Dad (deep sigh): Yes, Tina.
Me: Maybe you can try reading it? It says you can still smoke while you read it…
Dad: OK, Tina. Can we talk about something else?
A conversation we had today:
Dad: I’ve been reading that Easy Way To Stop Smoking book whenever I’m on the shitter.
Me (trying to contain my excitement): Really?! That’s so great!
Dad: I’m still smoking.
Me: I know.
Dad: It’s really interesting. I only read it when I’m going to the bathroom, and I go to the bathroom at least 12 times a day. I’m on page 80.
Me: Wow! It means a lot that you’re reading it.
Dad: Yeah, it’s good. Sometimes I go to the bathroom when I don’t even have to take a shit. I just pull down my pants and sit on the crapper so I can read that book.
* I get that cigarettes are addictive and probably harder to quit than booze, chocolate and prostitutes combined. Harping on my dad doesn’t help. He needs to quit in his own time, when he’s ready. I know this. But nonetheless, losing TOM to lung cancer is a very real fear that keeps me up at night. Don’t worry — I’m going to therapy.