Call for Philip Morris

A minor but well-won triumph today. Today marks ten years since my last cigarette. There was no fancy send-off, just a pack of Marlboro Lights in a bar with my friend Scott.

Jesus, just a Marlboro. Not even a decent cigarette, much less a good cigar. But hey, then it was done.

I owe my wife for the push. Look, she said, you've been whining about getting a new computer (I was; hers was a $300 Windows ME hatecrime that I had to try to compile code on for school). If you quit smoking for six months, she said, we'll save the money you would have spent on cigarettes and you can buy a new desktop. But if you smoke one day before, I get the money.

Thank God I was too dumb to realize how thoroughly she was working me. Thank God vaping didn't exist back then, so I couldn't just trade one addiction for another, hopefully-less-deadly but certainly-more-wizardy-looking one.

Segue: Math time.

A pack of 20 a day for 10 years at an average of 365.25 days per year yields 3,652 packs of cigarettes (rounding down) for a grand total of 73,040 cigarettes. Wow.

Let's be conservative and estimate an average of $4 per pack. That's $14,608 I didn't spend on tobacco over that decade, which of course means that it's new MacBook time. I may even throw in an iPad.

More math: A standard king cigarette is 84 mm long and 7.8 mm in diameter. Laid end-to-end, that's 6,135,360 mm, or just over 6.1 km worth of cigarettes. That's 3.8 miles of smokes.

3.8 miles.

Laid side by side, they'd still go, what, not quite 570 meters, well over six and a quarter U.S. football fields in length (not counting end zones). Or you could stack them in a pyramid that goes 381 levels high and have 269 cigarettes left over to have tiny swordfights with.

Scaling it like that helps me put a handle on it. Helps me realize what I've done in those last ten years. Gives me a glimpse of how my addictions have run my life.

I'm damned grateful for that perspective. Not to mention all the extra days.