The Adult Pacifier

by Mike McHugh

177093148I’d been a smoker most of my life.  Quit several times by various methods—cold turkey, nicotine gum, Chantix, you name it. Once I even tried hypnosis.  It worked, but I also came out of it with a strange desire to urinate on fire hydrants. A real wise guy, that hypnotist.

My problem was that I’d always backslide.  I’d be smoke-free for months, sometimes more than a year, and then I’d be back onto the cigarettes.

Then, I discovered the electronic cigarette, or as my wife calls it, the “adult pacifier.”  In case you’re not familiar, the e-cig is a smokeless device that produces water vapor instead of tobacco smoke.  The juice that’s used to make the vapor also contains nicotine and flavoring, as well as a thickener—typically propylene glycol.

“You’re smoking anti-freeze?” my wife asked when I told her what was in it.  “Why don’t you just stick your head under the car hood?”

“No, you’re thinking of ethylene glycol,” I told her.  “It’s all food-grade stuff in these things.”

“So, then, it doesn’t have all of those Carthaginians like regular cigarettes.”

“Uhhh…right,” I answered.

E-cigs come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are made to look like actual, or what we enthusiasts like to call “analog” cigarettes.  Me, I don’t want my device to look anything like a real cigarette.  Mine are more cigar-sized, but sleek, in jet-black or stainless steel.  I carry it on a lanyard around my neck.  It’s a nice convenience, one that’s not an option for traditional smokers unless they happen to be wearing bunker gear.

When I’m carrying my e-cig, most people don’t recognize the device for what it is.  Someone once said it looked like a flute.  Another asked me why I had a tire gauge strung around my neck. I just told him that sometimes, in parking lots, I get this urge to check the air pressure on random cars, probably as another side effect of my hypnosis.

I’ve found that e-cigs are in many ways different than their analog counterparts.  For one thing, there’s all of the associated paraphernalia.  You’ve got batteries, chargers for the batteries, atomizing coils, wicks, juice, and tanks to hold the juice.  There’s even things they’ve had to invent new words for, like “clearomizer.” It sounds like something that Captain Kirk would carry around with him while exploring a new planet.  With cigarettes, on the other hand, a pack of matches and you’re good to go.

E-cigs do have their advantages, though.  One is that you can use them anywhere.  Well, almost anywhere.  I once got hassled for using it at a rock concert, of all places.  There I was, in the midst of a crowd that was burning up enough contraband to levitate the entire venue, and this security lady chooses me to pick on. What I should have told her is, “Don’t mess with me; I’ve got a clearomizer.”

Cigarette smokers, on the other hand, are forced to trek to remote outposts in order to feed their habit.  I remember years ago, before cigarette ads were banned from television, there was one jingle that went, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel.”  That ad man had to be psychic.

Anyhow, I think the e-cig has finally done the ticket for me.  It’s going on two years now.  Oh, I still fire up the occasional analog from time to time.  Usually, it’s because of some technical glitch with my device, but those occasions are rare.

And hopefully it will remain that way, so long as Microsoft never decides to step in and monopolize the business.

Fleur White Small

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