Moderation 2/18/22

“You just don’t do moderation,” the Bohunk said with sharp, but loving concern. “Do you?”

I’d been verbalizing about my long-time smoking habit as I lamented ending my third week of no tobacco. And she was, after almost 50 years of marriage, spot-on in her analysis of my failings.

I grew up around tobacco and tobacco users. As a kid, I was sent to the local market on more than one occasion with a couple of bucks and a note from Mom authorizing me to buy a pack or two of Benson and Hedges. For a while, the parents were into menthol so a pack or two of Salems was on the note then. So tobacco use/enjoyment is in my DNA.

I never was much for moderation with alcohol either, as the Bohunk can attest. My philosophy on alcohol was that when we are born, God (my Lutheran version at least) decides how much alcohol we can consume in a lifetime. I drank my limit before I was 40. Compared to alcohol, the tobacco habit has been much harder to break. I have done it so many times, it should be easier.

When our son was a wee lad, with terrible asthma and bronchial conditions, his doctor ordered me to stop smoking in the house. One of the few doctor orders I took to heart back then. But he said nothing about smoking in the car, or at work, or on airplanes, or outdoors. And so it went.

On the occasion of my moderation failings discussion, I was relating to my bride how I had progressed in my habit to the point that just walking outside was my cue to start smoking. My pipes and tobacco resided on the top shelf of the coat closet. Whether walking the dogs, cutting the grass, shoveling snow, or moving firewood I’d start the pipe as soon as I was out the door. In my days at the lumberyard, it would follow me any time I went outside, which was either to open the feed bin or de-stress from a customer encounter that tried my unending patience.

If I went somewhere in Stella (my ancient Subaru), I’d have the pipe lit before I had the door closed and the side window cracked open. My favorite mechanic hates the smell in Stella, so he may be glad that the smell will now just be a stale reminder.

So yes, I guess moderation is not how I do things. Probably why there are so few leftovers at dinner.

By Steve Fernlund

Published 2/18/2022   Northshore Journal