My Disgusting American Habit

Feb 21, 2008 by

By the title, you can tell that this is another socio-political blog about my struggle with the culture shock of moving to London. However, I’ve got a few things to say about the podcast before we begin.

1. I’m getting quite a bit of support from the UK so we’ll be playing quite a bit in the next show.

2. If you’re looking for the playlist from the last show, scroll down or click on it in the blog archives in the sidebar.

3. Check out the cool new widget in the sidebar. Now you can truly listen right on the page. There’s also one on my Myspace page. Cool, huh?

4. There’s also a email subscription spot in the sidebar as well that I’ve just added. If you’re not already on the mailing list, this is an automatic list that is generated with the text from the podcast. It’s pretty slick. Consider it if you need to be reminded every week, and you’re not already on my personal email list. If you’d like to be on my personal one, email me and I’ll put you on it. I’d love to have you.

Last one before the story…

I’m tossing around the idea of splitting the podcast blog and the story blog. What do you think? I’ll put a poll in the sidebar for you to vote.

Alright, time for the story.

I used to be a smoker. I was just calculating the other day how long it’s been since I had my last cigarette and according to my poor math I went back to July 2006 and if you count from July 23 (my half birthday, making it really easy for my math brain to calculate) and it’s now almost February 23 it’s been almost 1 year and seven months. The thing is, I still crave cigarettes.

I don’t have cravings on a daily basis anymore (or hourly… wheew) but there are days when for a good, solid hour or two all I can think about is the sweet taste of inhaling nicotine smoke and watching it slowly float away as I exhale. Oh, and you can’t forget that holding in part, either. To combat this when I quit I began to chew on these toothpick-like chewing sticks. They’re flavored with tea-tree oil and they help a lot with the cravings. They’ve worked so well that I’ve even given up chewing on my fingernails which was a much longer-lasting habit that I’ve had since I was small. Ask my mother. She hates it when she catches any of her boys chewing their fingernails (or smoking, for that matter.)

So, as most of you know I’m now living in London and I’m beginning to run low on my sticks. One reason is that my roommate has tried to quit smoking recently and I gave him two boxes from my personal stash. He went through one box in only two weeks, showing the true power of their aid to quit smoking. If you’re trying to quit smoking, or at least cut back go to any health-food store (in the States…) and ask for them. They’re usually right near the front counter, if not on it. They can run up to almost 5 dollars a box, and the boxes look small, but with almost 100 sticks in a box you’re doing way better than one (or not even that in some states anymore) pack of cigarettes.

Right, tangent… where were we? Ah, I was trying to find the sticks.

I went into a few health food stores here and did not find them either near the register or with the other tea-tree products (I’m giving you my tricks for finding them when you go looking). So, with a toothpick already on-board (or in my mouth) I showed them the box and asked them if they carried them in the store. In both stores I was looked at with a bit of disgust and then they responded slowly that they did not carry them. After the third time I got a similar reaction, I stopped my quest and just resigned to either order them from the States or grab a bunch when I’m there.

It stuck in my head that these people were so struck and disgusted with my response and I brought this up among some of our other American friends. Our friend Matt told us that he, too had asked for a toothpick after dinner in a restaurant and his British colleague leaned over the table and told him that toothpicks in public were quite rude and disgusting. I was shocked, but prepared for this. I asked him, “I wonder who they think is more disgusting, us with our toothpicks or the French with their incessant cigarette smoking?”

An Englishman who had (apparently) spent some time in the States overheard me say this and told me, with an apologetic tone, that the toothpicks were more disgusting.

The next morning I stared at my change dish where I keep not only my change but my watch, my house key, and my box of toothpicks. “Should I take them, or should I leave them.” I had become anxious about them! Not fair! After thinking about it for a minute, I promptly popped one into my mouth and said out loud,”I AM a disgusting American! Yee-haw!” From then on I’ve had no problems chewing them. They’re good for my mouth and dental hygiene, make my breath smell fresh and lovely, stop me from picking up cigarettes and biting my fingernails and – best of all – mark me as an American. God bless America.

That’s the story for the week. Take care of yourselves. We appreciate all of the support over here. Without it, we’d be having a much more difficult time. So, thanks!



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