As I write this Hall of Fame Speech…it’s been exactly 126 days since I put down my last can of Skoal Longcut Straight. On the night of Friday August 27th, 2010 at about 11pm……..something hit me suddenly and without warning. It was not planned or thought out at all. I was laying on the couch with a dip in before bed…..as I did each and every night for much of the last 10 plus years……and it finally hit me……..out of nowhere……..I had to stop this devastating and disgusting habit. I had started dipping in college in the early 90’s as I played baseball…..a 19 or 20 year old punk. Several guys on the team dipped as did some of my buddies in the dorm. It was everywhere and I got hooked on it. It became my only vice….no drugs….no pot and limited booze. After graduating from college in 1994……I was somehow able to quit chewing…after only about 2 to 2.5 years on it. Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 1999 going into the year 2000….now at age 28. After a day of skiing…..my girlfriend at the time and I stopped at a package store and the infamous urge suddenly returned after several years. You all know that urge…I don’t have to explain it. You know the voice….you know the attempts at reasoning. “I am quit……I can have a couple of chews tonight…..no problem.” What a dick I was. I bought that tin that night and then proceeded to buy that tin for the next 10.5 years plus. I was quit for over 5 years and threw it all away like a dumbass. The tin went everywhere with me……I loved it. Loved looking forward to the next chew after a bad day at work……in the batters box facing 85 – 90mph heat ….while ripping some mogul field in Vermont or out in Colorado or at Jackson Hole…..or watching the Pats each Sunday. Driving = chewing. Boating = chewing. Playing golf = chewing. Everyone reading this knows what I mean. We have all had our hobbies, activities and interests that we associated with tobacco usage.
Then something tragic happened. In 2003….I lost my 29 year old brother in law to Lung Cancer. That is right……29 years of age. His name was Joe and he and my sister were only married for 4 months. Joe was a former brief smoker and chewer for a couple of years but this type of cancer that he developed was not from that. Every MD and specialist said it was not from his short term tobacco usage. It was either genetic or environmental. No answers were ever found….as they often aren’t in the journey of life. Why do some truly great people get the short end of the stick as far as life expectancy while some of the biggest assholes out there can live to be 95 years old as they lie, cheat, steal and screw others? Over the course of 18 months or so….I watched Joe slip away. He had a lung removed which bought him more time but the cancer came back in the remaining lung. We watched helplessly as the cancer took over his body. When he died in March of 2003….this 6’2″ ex Marine weighed less than 120 lbs. That’s a devastating blow to take and something you never get over. I did the eulogy at his funeral because nobody else could do it. Try doing that sometime…in front of hundreds of people as you fight through the pauses in your speech because you get that lump in your throat. Out of the corner of your eye as you stand in the church pulpit…you see the casket with the American Flag draped over it. That cancer had taken someone who I deeply cared for and respected. It doesn’t get any more sad or tragic than that. I should have stopped chewing then….but like an idiot….I did not. That should have been a sign…..but it wasn’t. I kept rolling the f’n dice for 7 more years. The only days I didn’t chew were days when I was sick with a stomach illness. I needed to wisen up….to smarten the F up.
So on 8/27/10 at the age of 38…newly retired from playing twilight league baseball….I decided to try to go one day without a dip. That was my plan. Let’s see if I could go one day without it. I found the KTC site about 2 days after that and decided it was time to do this……one day at a time. The roll call, the support of my fellow December 2010 quitters and the knowledge and wisdom of the vets on this site…..all made this very hard task…seem a bit easier as each day went on. I cannot thank everyone enough. I have never met any of you but you are all responsible for me being 4 months quit. The last time I was 4 months quit was the fall of 1999 so I thank everyone. I don’t post too much other than roll call but I read a lot and have enjoyed the playful banter…the humor and the great personalities of everyone. Could not have reached this point without this site and without all of you. I am not stopping. One day at a time…..I am going to make a decision not to put that shit in my mouth. Happy 2011 to all! And to any newbie out there reading this or to anyone still chewing but thinking about stopping…….you can do it……I promise you. You just have to want it bad enough.