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June 4, 2014 / thackersam

June 3 – Why I Can No Longer Feed the Squirrels

squirrel & jackWhen I tell the ex I’ve taken to walking around my neck of the city with pockets full of peanuts for the squirrels, he asks if there aren’t signs around telling us not to feed the squirrels. “Nooo,” I say. “The signs say – if you feed the squirrels you’re feeding the rats, or some such thing. Not the same.” Besides, I don’t just drop the peanuts here and there. I will hand one at a time to a squirrel I come across in the park after calling it over using that tch, tch, tch clicking sound that is universal for c’mere squirrel, I got nuts. I’ve got one cute guy who resides somewhere near the park’s northern entrance, who will put the peanut in his mouth and hop after me. I don’t know if he is just saying thank you, can I have another, or can I have one for my friend. Probably the second as I do believe he is the same squirrel who once rejected an assortment of muffins until I found one with a nut in it. Then there was the time I was watching another squirrel I’d just given a peanut, sit up and tear its top off. I got the strange feeling we were not alone, and when I turned there was a group of tourists behind me snapping pictures of the squirrel. I politely move out of the way. I will miss that. Feeding the squirrels is something I’ve enjoyed on my way to and from work. But alas, I can no longer feed the squirrels.

I have a problem. It’s a home addiction thing. No, I’m not addicted to my home, I seem to get addicted to things at home. I don’t have the same issue in public. My most recent overindulgence came when it was suggested by someone on TV that eating pistachio nuts was a healthy snack and by eating the ones still in their shells it would take longer to eat. Good idea. So I bought a pound bag and ate them in one sitting. I was doing this once or twice a week. I tried then buying them from the bulk dispensers at Whole Foods, which regulated the amount I could bring home and have at my, but everyone else must have the same idea, because quite frequently the unsalted pistachio dispenser is empty. I tried almonds, and found I’d go through as many as I brought home in no time as well. At about this time that I was having my nut addiction, I started buying sacks of peanuts for the squirrels. No big deal, I don’t really like eating whole peanuts though I do like superchunk peanut butter, which I have not had in a long time. It was not a big deal until I decided that my poor stomach couldn’t take all those nuts on the inside and out, and I banned myself from purchasing anymore pistachios or almonds. And then wouldn’t you know it, it became a big deal as of course I started devouring the squirrels’ nuts. And so, I cannot buy and bring into my home anymore nuts, pea or otherwise, because of my home addiction. I may slip now and then. Too many nuts upset my stomach, but they don’t make my finger go numb.

It was like that with smoking. I’ve smoked since I was 14, not a lot and more often not smoking at all simply because I didn’t feel like it. For many, many years I’d sometimes not smoke for months at a time, one time over a year. I lacked the urge. Being around heavy smokers was always a big turn-off and I resented the smoke-filled offices or sitting in the smoking section of a restaurant because a friend couldn’t go for more than ten minutes without a cigarette. I mostly smoked at home, and it only became a real problem about a dozen years ago. I was smoking at home a lot. One cigarette after another while I’d partake in my other addiction, Spider Solitaire. I smoked five packs a week, all after work and weekends never feeling the need to carry any on me. My cigarette of choice – Eve 120s. They balanced nicely in my hand, and I didn’t have to smoke them all the way down.

I kept explaining to everyone, friends, doctors… that it was a boredom thing. Yes, I suffer from congenital ennui. (I actually have an ennui cork jar. The other one says “snide remarks.” They were gifts.) It was boredom and an oral fixation and a patch or inhaler weren’t going to help me unless I could hold it between my fingers and puff on it. I thought of those candy cigarettes when we were kids, but I will bet they don’t make those anymore. The only thing that stopped me from trying e-cigarettes when they first came out was that they were promoted by Lindsey Lohan’s icky father. So I was dubious for a while, but they actually helped me cut down. And I got the nicotine-free kind. Not perfect, but a darned good substitute that I think others should use to cut down on smoking, not to continue smoking.

Even with this thing going on with my feet, I wasn’t tempted to stop completely. But the gross anti-smoking commercials, particularly the lady with multiple amputations, started having an effect on me, and when I lost the feeling in my left pinky, I cut out a whole pack a week. And then another. And when I got used to two packs, I decided not to buy cigarettes anymore. If they didn’t come home with me, I couldn’t smoke them. And that was two years ago today. I’ve had less than a handful of cigarettes since June 3, 2012, never at home, and the last one was many months ago as the urge to join someone in a smoke dwindles to practically nothing. Sometime, I’ll tell you about my fondness for Jack. We broke up a long time ago, but we still hang out once in a while.

In honor of my anniversary, I exercised tonight to The Waitresses of the Ram 20 out of respect for lead singer, the late Patty Donohue. She sings the song “Quit” and protests when her backup Waitresses yell quit at her, admitting and denying she has a problem. As I had previously mentioned when we covered their debut album just this April, Donohue died at 40 of lung cancer. She was known to be a heavy smoker. I don’t think she ever would have been considered great in the entertainment field, but I’ll bet we would have heard a thing or two more from her if she had stuck around.

Anyway, The Waitresses will always make me think of Vicki. And that’s a good thing, too.

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