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Mychal Wilmes: 2013 is a good time to kick the habit

So this is how it feels to be a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

The machine shed is an odd place to be on a cold morning when the temperature struggles to find the strength to rise above zero. I'm also struggling to break what seems to be an unbreakable habit that by ultra-conservative estimation costs at least $700 annually.

There isn't any need to get on a soapbox — almost everyone already knows that snuff-chewing is a disgusting habit that rots teeth, can cause mouth cancer and produces breath that rivals an untidy litter box.

The brain feels like it is about to implode. Nicotine makes it dependent and fools the addicted into believing that a pinch will reduce stress and make bad things better. It is the thing that has brought me to the shed for a self-talking to.

Quitting time


Jan. 1 was the quit date, which is important to set because otherwise one could push it back a week, a month or an eternity.

Countless attempts to quit started and stopped a half-dozen years ago. The first attempt was made when Sam realized that his father would die young. He questioned his dad concerning how he would feel if he came home from school with a pinch between gum and cheek.

He would be an idiot, we both agreed.

"Then why do you do it,'' he asked. "You are a hypocrite.''

He was as right then as he is now. The new year brings the promise that chewing will stop and he, as part of a handshake, will stop drinking Mountain Dew, which overused causes its own problems. The last tin was thrown away just after the Vikings had beaten the Packers. They will play again Saturday, which will be a huge test. Kathy is a huge Vikings fan and a mixed sports marriage can be difficult.

Kathy has agreed to be our agreement's enforcer because she is vested in the outcome. The money spent on chew could be used for a nice vacation.

Late start

The odd thing is, the habit didn't start until I was nearly 30.


It was a gift of sorts from a person who said nicotine's magic would help words flow again from a blocked writer. He also said that a writer without it could find inspiration in the whiskey bottle he kept in his desk.

A swig didn't help much, but he certainly seemed happier for having shared his trick with a cub writer.

If any good can come from the present ordeal, it is a better understanding of how tough it is for a person to quit gambling, alcohol, cocaine or meth.

Perhaps I should write a book.

It would start with tobacco's New World discovery by Christopher Columbus who was gifted dried leaves by Native Americans. It would move on to the Versailles Palace, where well-bred ladies sniffed snuff through their noses and covered themselves with so much perfume that a writer who saw the palace's grandeur remarked that its smell was comparable to a pig sty. The book would move on to World War II, when tobacco companies hooked thousands of soldiers by providing PX stores with cigarettes in their rations. The final chapter will be about the long road to freedom

The lack of concentration, foul mood and nervousness will surely pass and I will be better for having done it. I've played the fool for long enough.

Success seems remote standing in the frost-bitten air with the brain racing to no place in particular.

Pardon me for having enlisted your help.


Letting oneself down is one thing, but letting many others down is quite another. So if you see me pacing nervously shout-out encouragement with a reminder that freedom is more powerful than self-enslavement.

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