Little did I know that tobacco would prove to be the most addictive indulgence of my life.
by Bill Mehlman
You've probably gathered that I've made an extraordinary number of bad decisions in my life. Some major — a couple of criminally ill-considered business decisions lead the pack, with choosing civil engineering as a major running hard for the show money — and thousands of bad ones. It would be much easier to enumerate the good decisions, but apart from a marriage proposal and the realization, back when I was more solvent, not to take up commodities investing, they're few and elusive.
One horrible choice was to start smoking, but I don't take all the blame for that. Look at any movie made, for the sake of argument, at any time up to and including the Eisenhower administrations. You can't go five minutes without someone lighting up.
Chesterfield used to run print ads touting their product as the one more doctors smoked. FDR - and, shut up, I never saw him in person — was rarely photographed without that ebony cigarette holder sticking rakishly out from his aristocratic visage. Everyone smoked. So I smoked. Little did I know that tobacco would prove to be the most addictive indulgence of my life.
What brings this to mind is that when I spend hours working at my computer, I inevitably get a craving for a pack of Marlboros. Coffee, cigarettes, typewriter: all I need is Rosalind Russell sitting on the corner of my desk. Apart from the addictive nature of my relationship with Nicotiana tabacum, I always felt that cigarettes helped me work. They broke up the day, little treats that I didn't have to get up and walk into the kitchen to get. And they seemed to help me concentrate.
Looking back on what I wrote about voluntary noise, I'd say that smoking was the ultimate example. They provided just enough ancillary, controllable distraction that the real demonic, internally-arising chaos was held at bay. And I loved them. Often forty or fifty times a day. If only I could have just one, right now. It's a shame they're so damn bad for you, but there's nothing ADHD-related that could possibly compensate for the ravages of smoking.