I almost feel like a proper adult

2012-10-22 10:34

It’s a big week. Actually, it’s a very big week.

No, I’m not announcing that I’ve accepted nomination to stand against the Commander in Chief in Mangaung in December.

The ANC doesn’t have a Stoners League. Maybe it should.

As of October 22, I am officially a non-smoker. It’s been a year since I last took a drag of a cigarette. Three-hundred-and-sixty-five sweet days of liberation, free from the shackles of tobacco.

OK, it took drastic measures – a dose of pneumonia should qualify as drastic – for Harper to finally grind out his last butt and kick the vile habit.

A year back after two weeks of weird lung disease (and of course chaining my way through the pain) I hit send on my final story for the week.

As the story makes its way to the boss, I let rip with this massive cough as I stand up and reach for my smokes. The muscles around around my ribcage rip and I go into toxic shock.

I end up in hospital. I can’t smoke. I’m too busy tripping out on A Grade pharmaceuticals and eating through drips to be bothered. Plus my man Ghengiz lends me the first series of Law and Order. Easy.

A week later I’m on the mend. The penny drops – I haven’t smoked for a week. I’m stunned. I’ve been chaining Camels since my matric year.

Before that I’d never bothered with nicotine – it didn’t have a decent high. Then I got in trouble with the Babylon.

I decide to swap spliffs for Camel plains my mates have burgled from the local tea room. Real genius move that, Harper.

This is my first time trying to kick the noxious habit. I’ve dealt with other addictions – mandrax, crack cocaine, amputee dwarves, married women – pretty successfully.

I’ve always been scared to try and walk away from the brown and white death. Terrified, actually.

About two weeks later I go through a kind of epiphany. Nearly 30 years of nicotine, the residue from the hospital gear and the intravenous antibiotics make their way out of my body through my mouth. I spend nearly an hour brushing to get the awful taste out.

Then I eat some lettuce. It’s sweet, light, crispy. Tastebuds 1 – 40-a-day-habit – 0.

Since then I’ve been one of those evangelistic reformed smoker Nazis. I’ve banned ciggies in my house and my car. Big James, by clean living elder son, is amped. Small James, his nicotine stained younger brother, isn’t.

I’m fair though. Light up a spliff by all means. Keep that tobacco filth away from me.

I dig pubs with no smoking zones, no more the pariah who has to lurk in the parking lot or one of those vomit inducing smoking rooms.

There’s more about the week that’s makes it big. Harper’s about to become a published author kind of cat. A project I did a bit of work on, a book called The Lighter Side of Life on Robben Island, is coming out.

The launch is in Jozi this week. My contribution is only one chapter, a tribute to Strini kaMoodley, Black Consciousness legend and a sorely-missed drinking partner. I got caught up in the World Cup so my other chapters didn’t happen.

The other folks involved, Fred Khumalo and Gugu Kunene, tell great tales about how Robben Islanders managed to sneak a smile out of hell.

I’m stoked. I’ll be even more stoked if millions of punters buy it. This is a book, not Facebook.

I almost feel like a proper adult.

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