Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Intoxicating Power

The Intoxicating Power

What does one do on a Friday evening in Jakarta? For the young and energetic, Friday evenings are ripe with exciting possibilities.

June asked me to join her at the Burgundy--that swanky wine bar at the Grand Hyatt. I like drinking wine but I'm not into clubbing these days. Even if I do go out sometimes, it is often out of nostalgia rather than a need to "kill boredom" or to "release tension"--which are the usual reasons June likes to give me.

But I can understand why she chooses to go boozing every other night. I am actually very fond of people who drink and smoke because for some reason, I tend to get along better with them.

Well, I must confess that I too enjoy drinking very much and even though I'm not a smoker I don't mind people smoking in front of me. I kind of enjoy watching cigarette smoke waft in the night air, illuminated by the glow of distant neon lights--it makes me feel as if I'm living in some Wong Kar Wai movie.

I used to enjoy the occasional social puff or two, so I can understand the pleasures of smoking. Telling people that smoking is bad for their health will not stop them from smoking. People who like eating will not stop indulging in their gluttonous habit as long as they associate pleasure with the experience of eating. It is only when they suffer the humiliation of being called fat or develop health problems due to overeating, will they make an effort to stop.

Smokers will never take the advise of non-smokers, because non-smokers have no credibility--they simply don't understand the exquisite joy that smoking brings. The presence of nagging non-smokers actually encourages smokers to smoke even more because dangling a phallic cigarette between one's lips--like showing the middle-finger--becomes their subtle way of saying f**k you.

To stop smoking a smoker must learn to associate pleasure with the act of resisting a cigarette itself. I have successfully trained myself to do that. I get a certain high everytime I reject an offer to smoke. Treat it as a game initially; after a while you will find that the challenge can be quite fun. You'll enjoy a sense of triumph everytime you succeed in doing so and at some point, the pleasure of refusing a cigarette becomes greater than the pleasure of smoking itself. That is when you come to the realisation that you are no longer a smoker and you begin to marvel at the new-found power that you suddenly possess.

But beware, the power, like smoking itself, can also be very intoxicating...

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