What the hell do my chest X-ray results have to do with Bad Girls? Well, smoking's bad for you, and I smoke. That is to say, I used to smoke two cigarettes a day, and now I'm down to five or six cigarettes on the weekend. Except tonight (Thursday), when I plan to smoke one cigarette after dinner.
In other words, I'm a light smoker, but still a smoker in the medical sense. Last month, my doctor gave me a prescription for a chest X-ray, saying that because I've been smoking for such a long time (25 years, gulp), I should see if my lungs are okay.
So I went to the NYU radiology department last week and they took the dorsal and lateral views, I think you call it. When I left the hospital, flouncing past all the old wrinklies in their wheelchairs, there was a bounce in my step as I headed into the morning sunshine beaming down on First Avenue. The air smelled so good!
I felt happy to be alive, and part of my happiness had to do with a physical intuition that I am healthy. And yes, it's true. My doctor's office phoned back this week to say "Your chest X-ray results were normal." In medical speak, "normal" means fabulous, in the pink, robustly immortal!
Now that I know I am indeed going to live forever, as planned, I am full of self-justification for my light smoking habit. What's wrong with a little tobacco? The Indians smoked it and it did them no harm. Smoking is a relaxing and spiritual habit. If you smoke the way I smoke, then smoking is good for you. Just the way a little coffee, a little chocolate and a little alcohol are good for you, according to the latest research.
My Grandma Mil lived to be 96, and she was a light smoker. She officially quit when she was in her 50s, but even after that I remember the stale Kent cigarettes she kept in a pretty little blue-flowered cloisonee box on her coffee table. Every now and then, after a dinner party, Mil would light one up and you could see the pleasure she took from those few little puffs before she crushed out the half-smoked cigarette.
As for me, I keep trying to officially quit. On the days when I don't smoke, I don't miss it. On the days I do, I wonder if I'm really enjoying the cigarette. I roll my own, adding little English filters, and it's the ritual of rolling I enjoy as much as the smoke itself. Plus, I keep hearing the message that "smoking is bad for you," which in this puritanical society makes me want, perversely, to keep indulging my filthy habit.