the handshake

or, how i won five dollars and changed my life

I saw Chicago yesterday. Keep in mind I’ve been waiting to see this musical for twenty years, and in my head it is a very lavish and incredible piece of theatre. Somehow it got a bit lost in the translation. I love the first act so much, there was no way they would have been able to do it as well as I wanted. I want people who sound just like Gwen and Chita. Plus this is a touring company, so they have to have actors who can sing and dance and act and– oh yeah– don’t mind being on the road constantly.

That’s a smaller group of people to choose from.

But the second act won me over. I figured it would. It was also nice spending the afternoon with my parents. All in all it was a sort of grown-up, drinking tea and eating fruit, watching theatre sort of day.

After the show, at Katz’ Deli, over Matzo Ball Soup. “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena” comes on.

[scripty]
ERIC
Now here’s a little Beach Boys for you.

PAMIE
Jan and Dean.

ERIC
Who?

PAMIE
Jan and Dean. They sing this song.

ERIC
You’re out of your head.

PAMIE
Let’s ask my parents.

ERIC
Fine.

PAMIE
Guys. Who are we listening to.

DAD
I don’t hear anything.

PAMIE
It’s “Little Old Lady From Pasadena.”

DAD MOM
Jan and Dean Beach Boys

ERIC
Great.

PAMIE
I’m telling you it’s Jan and Dean.

ERIC
I know the Beach Boys when I hear it.

PAMIE
Apparently you don’t. Did you know John and Paul wrote this song?

DAD
What? No they didn’t.

MOM
Yeah, they did.

DAD
You don’t know it’s Jan and Dean but you know that the Beatles wrote this song?

MOM
I read it somewhere.

PAMIE
I saw it on some Beatles special or some Paul McCartney special.

DAD
That’s ridiculous.

PAMIE
It’s Jan and Dean, and it was written by John and Paul.

DAD
They knew nothing about Pasadena! They were from Liverpool.

ERIC
Let’s bet. Put money on it.

PAMIE
On who is singing?

ERIC
Yeah.

PAMIE
How much? Five? Ten? Twenty? I’ll go as high as you want.

ERIC
Five.

PAMIE
Alright. Shake.

ERIC
Well, this is a left-handed shake, so, you know, it’s not too official.

PAMIE
Give me your right hand. Give me your pinkie. Spit on your palm, I don’t care. It’s a bet.

DAD
Eric. I would not take this bet.

ERIC
I’m sorry that you two are so wrong. I know this must be hard.

MOM
Am I betting?

ERIC
No, you’re just rooting for me. You’re on my side.

PAMIE
I just hate taking money from you so quickly.

DAD
I’ll go in on the wager. Five?

ERIC
Sure.

DAD
Let’s do a proper handshake.

PAMIE
Man. Guess who’s picking up an extra shift this week?
[/scripty]

And so, as you know, I won five dollars, which translated into a pack of cigarettes, which became my

last pack of cigarettes

Yeah, I’m going to try to quit. Quit. quit. I’m going to quit. No “try.” No “try” in that sentence. Oh, if only all of my friends didn’t smoke. I haven’t had a cigarette since last night, around one a.m. So, it’s almost been twelve hours. Not that I’m counting, or anything. I mean, I hardly even noticed that I haven’t had a cigarette. I mean, it’s only like the busiest day I’ve had at work ever and the phones won’t stop constantly ringing, and I’ve still lost my voice from karaoke the other night, but no one has any sympathy around here for me, and they make me answer the phones anyway even when I asked if there was something that I could do that doesn’t involve talking since my throat is killing me and my voice is totally shot.

And there’s no way in hell I get to go home, since no one else bothered to show up for work today.

So to re-cap: first day without cigarettes: going just fine. No problems, right? Can’t even tell that my hands are shaking, can you? OH THAT PHONE! IT’S RINGING AGAIN! STOP MAKING ME TALK!

And I wanted to stay up very late last night forcing myself to smoke all of the cigarettes so that I would be grossed out by them today, but I couldn’t do it, and right now at my house is half a pack of cigarettes… that I’m not going to touch.

You know, whenever I tried to quit smoking before, I always thought, “Hey, this is easy.” I never really had a nic fit or anything… but I missed smoking. I liked it, and I didn’t really quit for any reason except to see if I would freak out without a cigarette. Well, I think the last time I tried that was about a year and a half ago. And for the past two or three months I’ve been up to a pack a day, which I never used to do.. a pack would last two or three days before.

Also, lately whenever I light a cigarette I start sneezing. Like the smoke gets right up in my nose. And I’ve had the sniffles for about three months, and my voice is shot to shit from the smoking, the singing, and the performing and the laughing and the partying… I just think it’s time to start taking better care of myself. I’m starting to imagine what my body will look like in thirty years if I keep treating it this way, and I’m not too excited.

So, here it is… my declaration. I am going to stop smoking. Here is where I will chronicle my progress.

So far, so good. “so good”… hmmm… put that word together: sogood smogood smokegood smokinggood. smoking. good.

NO!

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