I’m no one’s role model. Good, bad, or otherwise defined- I’ve never asked to be, intended to be, offered to be, or acted to be. Which is good, for why anyone would look up to me or even anything other than askance at me is difficult for me to comprehend: I’m very large, I scowl exclusively and I eat too many things that contribute too much to my largeness and scowliness.
I don’t try to present standards for anyone else to live up to; I just do what I do. I don’t have children and don’t want to be an example to children- for the most part, I prefer they stay as far away from me as possible. I’m 41 and live like I’m in my 20s, and I’ve determined that the best thing about being an adult is that you can eat all the candy you want for breakfast and pancakes and scrambled eggs for dinner if you so desire and there is no one to tell you no.
Even when there’s bacon.
Especially when there’s bacon.
I get too little exercise and think movies are stupid and the people I deal with are idiots and human companionship is overrated when all you need is the unconditional, uncomplicated love of one good dog. The list of reasons why I am the absolute opposite of a role-model is long.
I also smoke. This really upsets some people more than anything else.
I don’t care.
I began smoking a number of years ago, well over a decade, even two. Why did I start? I had my reasons. The number one reason, however, did not include anyone holding a gun to my head, putting a cigarette into my mouth, and forcing me to inhale while stubborn tears of rage coursed down my flushed cheeks as I vowed my sullen, heartbreaking revenge. Just as soon as I finished my smoke.
I did not develop a pack-a-day habit; I developed a pack-a-day enjoyment. That is why I continue to smoke- I enjoy it. That’s why no government program, no well-meaning yet rude stranger, no shocking photos of disease-infested lungs will make me stop. Because I enjoy smoking. I like smoking. Smoking is a part of me. Smoking a cigarette brings some small measure of pleasure I treasure to the dreary everyday existence I go through and gives me something to look forward to every hour. Smoking is an escape from a world I readily turn my back on because I still don’t really know my place in it. Smoking is who I am.
I am no one’s role model. I’m a terrible, horrible person; I’ve been tested and the results are off the chart. I’m fat and I frequently smell funny and I dress not so much like I ignore fashion as that it completely eludes my understanding. I’m a rebel, baby- my ego wears leather, my bloated self-importance rides a Harley and my brain is the guy all the girls want and the other guys in the locker room refuse to shower with in case anyone dares to compare. I break like the wind and I treat other people with disdain when I’m not pretending they’re completely beneath my notice in the first place. I’m an egotistical, arrogant son-of-a-bitch that’s so vain I probably think this column’s about me.
I also lied.
I actually quit smoking over six months ago. I have not had a cigarette the entire year of 2011. I don’t need nor want any accolades or applause. Just like when I started, I stopped for a number of reasons. I miss it terribly. I’m not as nice as I used to be (and I was never very nice in the first place.) I feel like a large part of my personality has been taken away. I did not quit because of the price, or because of laws preventing me, or because of programs telling me to stop, or because the gun was taken away from my head, or because a gun was put to my head, or because other people who don’t even know me decided it was their right to tell me what to do with my own body.
I stopped because it’s what I wanted to do. I no longer wanted to smoke. Simple, really.
So if I must be an example for any reason, even so little of one such as my photo appearing with a monthly column, then instead let it be for this: do things for your own reasons and have the conviction to follow through with them. Be unapologetically … yourself. Even if it means your picture pisses some people off and they complain to your boss.
But do it without smoking. Because there are other things you can do and enjoy, instead of doing only one thing that will be the only thing you enjoy. And because you’ll find that you don’t need to artificially create a personality for yourself if you just give yourself time to develop one. And because you can be stronger than you ever thought possible, and you can do it on your own. And because you can’t be yourself if you allow something else to be the you for you.
Give yourself a chance to be who you are, and then be it. Because no matter how unlikely it may seem, you’ll apparently end up being a role model at some point in your life, and you’ll be expected to set a good example, even when you smell like stale potato chips.
So be as good as you can get, instead of wondering how good you could have been. Be … definitive.
And look forward to peanut butter and M&Ms on toast. Because it makes for a great breakfast.
(The original headline for this column was I’m about to blow smoke up your … but this was considered too provactive. My editor initially came up with I’m about to blow smoke up your skirt, which I was not happy with because it was too gender specific. I then suggested the current one; I prefer the original, however.)
(The phrase “my brain is the guy all the girls want and the other guys in the locker room refuse to shower with incase anyone dares to compare.” was originally “my brain is hung like a horse.” This was considered inappropriate by my editor, and I re-wrote it as “my brain is the guy all the girls want.” which was acceptable, but I didn’t think packed the same punch, so I re-wrote it again.)