Dear Father Tony,
I'm involved with a smoker. He is funny and brilliant and we are great together, but I am not dealing well with the cigarettes. He wants us to live together and I do too. He promises that he will quit smoking forever on the first day of 2010. I don't know if he can do it, and I don't know if I can handle it if he doesn't. Love is a bargain, and I have a few bad habits of my own, but I am afraid I am getting into something I will regret.
Motown Helps When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
No, you should not move in with him. You should begin to search for a new love because if this one will not surrender his cigarettes on your behalf today, he most certainly will not do so on the first day of 2010. Or, if he does, he will resume smoking on the second day of 2010 and through the haze of his shame he will look at you sheepishly and he will wordlessly beg for your acceptance of his weakness, and this you will grant him because you will be addicted to him just as he is to his smoke, and you will both begin a new year of nurturing the elephant in the room - the only creature in this world known to grow more robust by dint of secondary smoke or the hollow carbohydrates of failed diets.
It is said that lovers must brook change or own up to the fallacy of their professed love. You know, that "for better or worse" thing? I agree with that promise, and love does grow stronger and deeper when illness and reversals of fortune are overcome together by courageous and devoted couples. But there is also the matter of unacceptable behavior and its enabling. This smoking, your tolerance for which you now question, straddles the firebreak between the two forests of human frailty and unacceptable misbehavior. I have an idea that the things you love about this man far outweigh the one habit that you detest. And in a world beset with loneliness and grief who am I to counsel you against fastening him with a lifelong lung-squeezing embrace? On the other hand, if you cannot imagine being relegated every fifteen minutes to the role of secondary spouse whenever he receives an urgent call from his first spouse, the next cigarette, you should not enter the tent of this bigamist. Also, you should know that washing the stale scent of smoke out of this man's clothing and out of your bedding and furnishings will be like constantly encountering the skin scent or the despised fragrance of your lover's paramour who, unseen, will taunt you in the sanctuary of your own home even as you kiss your lover's neck, laced as it is with your rival. Do you really want to end up like Diane Ross, singing
I'm aware of where you go
Each time you leave my door
I watch you walk down the street
Knowing your other love you'll meet
But this time before you run to her
Leaving me alone and hurt
(think it o-o-o-over) after I've been good to you.
(think it o-o-o-over) after I've been sweet to you.
Stop! in the name of love
Before you break my heart .
Won't his many good qualities become slippery stepping stones in the wide river separating The Land of What You Deserve and The Land of What You Get?
I remember the someday-promise I made to myself when I smoked that last Gauloises, whose sweet flavor is wonderfully associated with La Résistance and Jean Paul Sartre and the bistro life that is my birthright, and whose package is a soft, almost suede periwinkle blue, a suitable tint for the sad young dreams of any lost generation, for the color of the eyes of young men curious to know if you have cried, for the anthems of liberty stretched mournfully through the sighing folds of an accordion. I made myself that someday-promise that if I should give it up now, surely God will reward me by letting me know the time of my death sufficiently in advance of its arrival, giving me enough time, perhaps a month or two, in which to enjoy those Gauloises once again and to see that lovely package on the nightstand of my deathbed. After the passage of seasons of deprivation, I began to temper this consolation with the image of my friends lined up to say goodbye one last time. I saw them wince with each grimaced kiss as they encountered the stench of those cigarettes within the suffocating azured haze of my sunset. Is that really how I wanted to play that scene? Now I rehearse my final departure with the herbal lavendar of Provence rather the Turkish lavendar of Gauloises. All the same, I retain among my papers, safe from the fading sunlight, one empty pack of them.
Almost any excess pursued by a man will hobble a relationship. Food, booze, drug, TV, work, gambling, God and even you yourself can become his frightening obsession. If a problem interest like nicotine or donuts or slot machines or church should develop after you are in a relationship, you are obliged to work at its out sorting. But when a man up fronts his weakness before you move in, you ought to think twice and respect yourself thrice, for, as Diana's mother told her, you can't hurry love. No, you just have to wait. She said love don't come e-easy. It's a game of give and take.