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22 May 2013 / leggypeggy

Marking a special day

A light bulb comes on in a furniture store in Spain

A light bulb surrounded by ashtrays in a furniture store in Spain

I ran into two old friends last night.

Ed was sitting in the restaurant. We greeted one another briefly and he pointed me toward the foyer, saying I would find Helen there. Sure enough, she was standing just outside the dining room holding two cups of yoghurt.

We exchanged a few words and then she asked me to move on because ‘the thugs behind me are going to take this yoghurt’. Beyond Helen were two Blues-Brothers types, wearing suits, ponytails and no sunglasses. They smirked.

And then I woke up!

Egads, why in the world would I dream about Helen and Ed? Yes, they were a very special couple to me, but both died many years ago. Ed had been my first editor, back in the days when I worked on a daily newspaper in Nebraska. Helen was his wife. I adored them, and they were very good to this then-young journalist.

But why was I dreaming about them? I reckon it had to do with a story Ed told me about their married life.

I’ll set the scene and share the story and you can decide if I’m right.

It’s the early 1970s. The community is about to celebrate its 125th anniversary and the newspaper, the Kearney Daily Hub, is compiling a special commemorative edition. I’m in the office on a Sunday afternoon, pasting up proof pages. The office had agreed that the journos should paste-up the layouts for this publication. It wasn’t our normal job, but the newspaper wasn’t a union shop and we knew the stories and were more likely to be able to juggle text sympathetically.

Ed and Helen strolled by and when they noticed I was there, they popped in to say hello. I stopped for a smoko—cigarettes in the office were still the norm—and Ed said, ‘Shall I tell you about when we quit smoking?’

Helen choked on a giggle and wandered away, shoulders juddering.

Ed proceeded to recount the many times they had tried to stop smoking. Helen would try and Ed wouldn’t, and vice versa. So finally Ed told her to pick a day and let him know, and he’d quit with her.

He arrived home after a long, trying day. It just so happened that Helen swooped on him with the makings of a ‘heated discussion’.

By the time Ed was relating the story to me, he could no longer remember the issue—just the way it all played out.

Helen was on the front foot, and the discussion went on and on. Ed groped in a kitchen cupboard for a pack of cigarettes, then a desk drawer, then to the bedroom—all the while trying to hold his own in the ‘discussion’.

Finally he broke. ‘Where are the $#@*?&# cigarettes?’

Helen leaned back, folded her arms and nonchalantly said, ‘Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you. We’ve quit!’ As Ed said, he lost the ‘discussion’ and had to quit smoking. And he had no regrets.

As for me? I stopped smoking seven years ago today. No regrets—just dreams about dear friends!

27 Comments

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  1. Jonathan / May 22 2013 11:28 pm

    What a cool story P – and so really elegantly told.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2013 11:41 pm

      Thanks Jonathan. Except for the unexpected dream, I might not have thought of the connection.

      Like

  2. RICK / May 23 2013 1:53 am

    SINCE IT WAS 7 YEARS AGO THAT YOU QUIT SMOKING, PERHAPS THIS WAS YOUR FRIEND’S WAY OF REMINDING YOU ABOUT THE CONNECTION AND SAYING “CONGRATS, PEG.”

    Like

  3. Gary Walker / May 23 2013 3:29 pm

    I quit smoking about five years ago. Butt… I still have a pack in the freezer and have one on social occasions and go on a binge then quit again. For the most part I am good.

    I love your stories.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2013 8:51 pm

      Potsie, you are amazing. There is absolutely no way I could go on a binge and stop again. My hat is off to you that you can.

      Like

  4. Janet Rosenzweig / May 24 2013 7:42 pm

    Congrats Peggy! Did not realize you are a former smoker, just thought you were a non-smoker. On July 30th I will have stopped for 2 years. I gave it up the day before my husband’s birthday because he was on my case. I smoked off & on, mostly consistently for 48 years!! I really didn’t think I could successfully give it up. I don’t dare indulge in even one because I know from the past then I’m right back into my happy habit.

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    • leggypeggy / May 24 2013 8:58 pm

      Congrats on your stopping too, Janet. And we are the same—no way could I even have a puff without being back at it. Fortunately i don’t crave the cigs.

      Like

  5. lmo58 / May 26 2013 3:55 pm

    Congratulations Peggy! When I stopped smoking two packets a day, my father said that if I could give up heroin addicts had nothing to worry about. I think your dream meant that you loved Helen and Ed, really miss having them in your life and that they’ll always be close to your heart. And it’s really nice that you remember them so. I sometimes dream about starting up again. But then I wake up!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / May 26 2013 5:08 pm

      I didn’t know you were ever a smoker, or if I did, I forgot. Yes, I have wonderful memories of Helen and Ed.

      Like

  6. Your loving daughter / May 26 2013 9:32 pm

    Finally got a spare mo to read it – it’s a great story Mum! And I’m very proud of you 🙂

    Like

  7. leggypeggy / May 23 2017 2:48 am

    Reblogged this on Where to next? and commented:

    I’ve never reblogged one of my own posts, but this one has merit. It makes the day I stopped smoking—11 years ago. Would love to hear your story of stopping.

    Like

  8. Phil Huston / May 23 2017 6:57 am

    Holy (insert here). First of all, I’ve been to Kearney, Nebraska. To the music store owned by a couple of brothers. 1982. Like Kansas and Oklahoma, if the world were flat, you could see London from Nebraska. That highway from Kearney to Lincoln, 30, has been referred to as the longest, straightest main street in the world. And at night, in the old days? Just as spooky as New Mexico.

    July 30, 2009. Unmeasurably high blood pressure, no heart condition, no blockages. Cigarettes. anxiety and NSAIDs had my arteries shut down. They say the biggest cause of heart attacks in fifty something males is menopause. Add smoking and tension to that? Something had to give.

    Great post. Some stories are worth retelling. (He said, nodding at Brian),

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 2:46 pm

      Oh my, another soul who’s been to Kearney and driven between there and Lincoln. We could start a club. My daughters have a story about spooky roads (and motels) in New Mexico). Good to know you gave up the smokes.

      Like

  9. wfdec / May 23 2017 7:57 am

    I sat with my younger daughter when she was ten (ie ten years ago) and said how proud I’d be when she graduated from University. She smiled as I butted out a fag and said, “That’s nice,Daddy, but you probably won’t be alive by then”. I stopped that day. I’ve got 18 months to go.Maybe I’ll take up smoking then. Unless she does her Masters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 2:47 pm

      Kids tell it like it is. Here’s hoping she goes for her Masters.

      Like

  10. Vicki / May 23 2017 12:12 pm

    I was a social smoker for about 10 years. My first cigarette was on a 3 week overseas trip in Asia when I was about 21 and I seem to remember my travelling companion ‘introducing’ me to them as I have a photo of me holding my nose and drawing on the cigarette at the same time in the hotel room…..Singapore I think it was.

    I was only a social smoker and smoked 1-3 per day (with maybe 5-6 at a party – you know – drink in one hand and cigarette in the other type of thing).

    I think I was about 30 when I stopped. I had a really bad dose of a fluey type of bronchitis which went on for about 6 weeks and I couldn’t smoke at all during that period of coughing. I never bothered buying another packet of cigarettes when I recovered.

    Then, after an incident at a party when a very drunk (or drugged), we’ll never know, girlfriend rather aggressively attacked me, I never went on the pub, club, party scene with that group ever again.

    I led a very quiet life after that and it suited my shy and rather solitary nature. (well until I went to London and around Europe in 1976 when the alcohol consumption went up rather dramatically 🙂 )

    Some years later a Canadian friend was visiting and we went to one of our old ‘haunts’ (when she lived in Australia) and bumped into an ex boyfriend. His first words were “You look fantastic”. Where have you been (and what have you been up to ?). I mentioned the cessation of the partying, drinking and smoking and he agreed that it had done me the world of good. I can’t say I was addicted to smoking. It was more of…….every one did it, so why not me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 2:52 pm

      A wonderful set of vignettes, Vicki. So glad you shared them. I think you are one of the lucky few who could sort of take or leave the smoking. I’m sure it made the stopping much easier. As for the partying, I was never big on that after university. Although I did a bit of whooping it up when I lectured in journalism in university and the students tried to lead me astray. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. afterthelasttime / May 23 2017 1:49 pm

    Congratulations on 7 years, Peggy! Years ago I read an newspaper or magazine article about how it takes the body one month for every year one smoked to cleanse itself of the effects of smoking, nicotine and all. You are no doubt squeaky clean by now! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2017 2:53 pm

      Thanks Dave. This original post was written four years ago, so now I’m up to 11 years since I stopped—or a whopping 132 months.

      Like

  12. derrickjknight / May 23 2017 7:12 pm

    I’m answering your question on the reblog

    Liked by 1 person

  13. heidi ruckriegel / May 23 2017 9:24 pm

    I never started, but then I couldn’t, because when I was a kid, we pestered my Dad until he finally gave up. With three kids greeting him everyday with cries of ‘stinky smoke argh’, it didn’t take long!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:43 am

      You kids were just doing your duty. Well done!

      Like

  14. lexklein / May 25 2017 7:26 am

    I always say that if cigarettes wouldn’t hurt me, I’d start again tomorrow! But I remember only the “good” parts – the relaxation and concentration that come with smoking. If I really think about the smell and the expense, I realize I probably would never do it again. I think I smoked for about 9-10 years, then snuck them for a few more, then quit altogether at least 25 years ago! Congrats to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 2:15 pm

      Thanks. Luckily I have no urge to start again. Every now and then, someone lights up and I like the smell of the lit cigarette, but not often. And it’s always satisfying to ask the person at the checkout counter how much a pack is—routinely $20 a pack now in Australia.

      Liked by 1 person

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