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Keep Your Smoke To Yourself, and I'll Do The Same With My Salt

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


I'm sure a lot of people will be pissed when they read this, but I'm glad the smoking ban passed.

Why? Because when you indulge in a habit publicly, like smoking, you are no longer keeping it to yourself. It's one thing if you drink and you get so drunk you puke on the person next to you (that's not right, either) but smoking is one of those peculiar habits that can't be kept to one's self.

I checked online to see how much of the U. S. population smokes. One web page said 24 percent, another said 19 percent. I'll just make it 20 percent even, for argument's sake. I find it interesting that among the eight or so people that I socialize with on a regular basis (we all have conflicting schedules due to work; so we don't see each other often) a whopping seven of them smoke. That's a hell of a lot more than 20 percent. I have no idea why so many of the people I hang out with smoke.

My mother used to smoke, and in fact, smoked when she was expecting me. She finally quit for good about a year before she died, but the damage had been done. Six years before she quit for good, she ended up with bladder cancer. She was shocked, because you figure if you smoke, you might end up with lung cancer, but bladder cancer? Fortunately, it hadn't spread. They removed the cancer, along with her bladder and her female reproductive organs. For the rest of her life, she had a plastic bag glued onto her abdomen, where the urine collected. When the bag was full, she pulled the stopper out and emptied the contents into the toilet. She used to joke with my nephew that she could pee standing up too.

Sometimes I had to help her change her bag, especially towards the end of her life. It wasn't a pretty sight or a pretty smell. Still, I'd rather have had to look at that bag for years than not to have my mom around. I remember when her cancer was first diagnosed. I think we were all scared. I was certainly terrified. I remember my mom sitting on the bed, staring into space. When I sat down to talk to her, the only thing I can remember her saying was, "take care of yourself."

Easier said than done, of course. I am keeping my vow of exercising at least 30 minutes a day and making up for it on the weekends if I miss a day. I'm trying to eat better, but I'm by no means adhering to a macrobiotic diet or even completely cutting out sugar and wheat. It's more of a half-assed version of the Atkins diet-a lot less sugar, a lot more protein. And I think I'm seeing some results. I haven't lost a bunch of weight yet, but I feel different in a good way.

But I still love salt. One friend who smokes gave me a 16-ounce container of salt for Christmas one year. There's still quite a bit of salt left, even though I used some of it on my front porch to melt some snow. Every so often when we go out to eat, she makes a comment when I grab the salt shaker. Okay, I love salt. But when I sprinkle it on my food, the only person's health I'm affecting is my own. It's not like I shake salt over the food of people sitting close to me.

A smoker, on the other hand, is subjecting everyone around him or her to the toxins lighting up causes. You say you fought for this country? Congratulations. Go ahead and smoke-but do it in the comfort of your own home or your car. And when lung cancer takes you out, or you wind up having to pee into an industrial-strength baggie, I hope you refrain from demanding that the government pay for your predicament. I don't want my tax dollars to pay for your mistakes. Lord knows I'm low on cash to begin with. And I have a salt habit to maintain.

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