Vaping to Excellence! – A Day in TOHV

vapingI stopped smoking cigarettes about a year and a half ago. I’ve gotten props about it since then, with friends telling me they are impressed I’ve quit one of the world’s most addictive substances.

Whoa – hold the phone there.

I haven’t actually QUIT anything. I’ve just shifted my depraved nicotine addition to a product (I hope) is safer.

Yes, I vape. Friends tell me this makes me look like a high schooler, and I always try to defend myself by pointing out Dave Chapelle uses one, as though he was the paradigm of maturity or something, but in fact he’s just the only notable adult I’ve seen use one.

Even the word vape sounds obnoxiously adolescent, as does Juul, the specific brand I use, though I never refer to the device this way.

A friend of mine who used a Juul would get drunk and lose the device somewhere in her house, and, flustered, would forget the brand name and just exclaim, “I can’t find the…my…fuckin PUFFY-STICK.”

I always thought this was hilarious, so I started calling the device a puffy stick when I switched over from cigarettes a couple winters ago. This did not turn out to be the best word choice.

I was on a first date that was going pretty well when I excused myself for the bathroom, both to actually use the toilet and to take a few puffs of that sweet, sweet vapor. I ended up being in the bathroom for several minutes, and I apologized for my absence when I returned.

“Sorry for the wait,” I said. “I just can’t seem to keep my hands off my puffy stick!”

Yes, she thought I was referring to my penis. Thankfully, she had a sense of humor and burst out laughing, which utterly confused me until I realized my gaffe and hurriedly explained I wasn’t a compulsive masturbator.

One of the reasons I switched from cigarettes was savings. Cigarettes (or ‘cancer sticks’) cost like $11 a pack now, and – at least when I started – you could get four Juul pods for $20.

When making this financially sage decision, I didn’t take into consideration how easy it was to lose the goddamn things. They’re slim, and slippery, and ink-black, and can easily slip away into the darkness. It drives me insane. I’ve bought and lost perhaps two-dozen puffy sticks since I started, and I’m avoiding calculating the total cost because it might make me depressed.

Ten or twelve years ago, half the people I knew smoked – perhaps not heavily, but they would bum a cigarette in certain situations (drinking, going to a party, seeing that I had cigarettes). However, now it’s like – no one. It’s deviant.

I’m glad I no longer have a habit that makes people look at me like some sort of psychopath, but that doesn’t mean I’m not addicted to a drug. I’m actually MORE addicted, because I can vape anytime, anywhere, such as after waking up at 2:30 in the morning with the nicotine tremors.

I’ll be sleeping next to my girlfriend, Jody, and, with about 10 percent of my brain active, will start numbly groping around the covers for the puffy stick, inadvertently jabbing her to wakefulness. ‘Just put the puffy stick down beside the bed before you fall asleep,’ she’ll say, but I prefer clutching it like an orphan does a teddy bear. She finally gave in and bought me a glow-in-the-dark case so she can sleep through the night.

Puffy Sticks are also subtle enough to use in situations you are not supposed to. Yes, you’re not SUPPOSED to vape in the airport bathroom, but who’s gonna know?

Of course, I’m banking on the notion puffy sticks actually ARE safer. Vaping hasn’t been around very long, and its long-term health effects are unknown.

‘But my throat feels smoother, my lungs clearer, and I can actually taste!’ I’ll whine whenever anyone points this out. But in the end, I do not know.

All I know is I gotta get to the bodega before it closes, because these tremors aren’t going to calm themselves.

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