My grandmother (God rest her soul) introduced me to my first love and thus began a relationship that would span over 32 years and encompass over half of my life thus far. We first met in 1975 or 1976, I was 10 or 11 years old (can’t remember exactly). My cousin and I were spending a week of our summer vacation at our grandparent’s farm in Oklahoma. We had gone into town with Mamaw and were browsing through the local grocery store. As we came around one aisle at the front of the store, my cousin became extremely excited and started pointing at a life size cardboard cut out of Walt Garrison with the caption “A pinch is all it takes”. Now being from Texas, I was naturally a Dallas Cowboys fan and also a real working Cowboy, of which Walt Garrison was both. Needless to say Walt Garrison was my icon, hero, role model etc…. If I could have had a choice at that time to be anyone I wanted to be, it would have been Walt Garrison.
My cousin was determined to talk Mamaw into buying us each a can of snuff, because if “A pinch is all it takes“, then we wanted what it took. We begged and pleaded with her and after a few seconds of hesitation, she relented and bought a can of Copenhagen for my cousin and a can of skoal for myself. Naturally we both wanted to carry our new tins out of the store with us and not hidden at the bottom of some grocery sack. I remember being so proud as I walked across the parking lot, with the feel of that round can in my back pocket, knowing that soon I would have the much cherished ring of honor on my jeans, which would tell the whole world that “I was Cool”.
Remember this was mid 1970’s smoking was just beginning to be frowned upon and smokeless tobacco was rapidly being advertised as the safe alternative to cigarettes. The public did not know the dangers of tobacco or the addictive nature of nicotine. Some were beginning to associate lung cancer with smoking but no one, including myself or my grandmother knew the actual dangers of this drug. Had my grandmother known the potential dangers, she would never have agreed to buying that first can of skoal for me. She passed away several years ago and though she only mentioned it a few times, I am sure she regretted that decision for the rest of her life. I only wish I could have quit before she past away, and hope she can see now that I have finally ended my relationship with nicotine.
We returned to the farm where my cousin and I immediately opened our cans and stuffed our lips full of shit . Spitting was even better than having a ring on your pocket, man we were cool! The chore of the day was building fence. It only took about 15 minutes in the Oklahoma heat for my cousin to succumb to the Tobacco “Candy”. He literally turned 3 shades of green, with some purple and yellow thrown in for good measure, and lay in the shade the rest of the day puking and moaning something about “make it stop, make it stop”. Needless to say he never became addicted to tobacco use and remains tobacco free to this day. I on the other hand breezed through the day with a big ole skoal turd in my mouth, feeling very proud of myself , that I was now a “pinch is all it takes” guy and if I ever met Walt, he and I could hang out and share the same spittoon. That night my cousin gave me his can of Copenhagen and swore he would never dip again. Looking back, I only wish I also had gotten deathly sick from the dip and would have vowed to never touch it again. Instead I gladly took his can of Copenhagen and after trying it, preferred it to the sweet taste of skoal. Thus from that moment on I fell in love with Copenhagen and she fell in love with me. It was a match made in heaven.
I could always go see her almost anytime I wanted. Though she was much older than I, there was no age limit at the time, no need for I.D. and she was an inexpensive date, only costing 10-15 cents per can. I could walk through the parking lot at the Village Drugstore and gather enough money to buy several cans and if the parking lot had already been cleaned, I could return a few bottles of soda pop and make enough money to buy her.
At first we dated like a couple of pre-teenagers just hanging out every once in a while, passing notes to each other, meeting behind the school, or meeting every so often at the soda fountain or movie theater. My Mother did not approve of our relationship in the beginning, and actually tried to forbid us from seeing each other on several occasions. However, in the end I guess I was able to convince her that it was nothing more than a school boy romance and would never amount to a serious relationship.
Soon however, our relationship became more like a high school crush. We did almost everything together. We went to ballgames together, went to eat, took the same classes, hung out after school, did our homework together , rode bicycles together and during the summer hung out at the pool together. We were inseparable and having the time of our lives.
Before I knew it, our relationship had evolved into a full blown romance. We were constantly together and the few occasions we were apart, were spent longing for each others companionship. It was an exciting time, we were both young, active, and free, with no worries, minimal responsibilities and no need to hide our relationship from others. We could enjoy each others company at any time day or night, in any situation without the fear of reprisals. This euphoric relationship lasted for many years until, at some point in my mid 30’s, I began to realize that the romance was gone, there was no love left in me for her, and I was trapped in a dysfunctional marriage. Somewhere along the way the Love faded from our relationship, I did not enjoy her company anymore, nor did I want to be around her constantly. I could not help it, she was constantly nagging at me, “take me here, you should do this or that, etc…she would not leave and I could not get a moments peace away from her. Life had become boring and predictable for both of us, spend money on can, put dip in mouth, get nicotine fix from dip, spit dip out, repeat ever ½ to 1 hour everyday, It was a vicious cycle that I was unable to break. God I was bored with her and she with me, but we continued on miserable, neither of wanting each other but scared to face life alone. This is the hell in which I lived until November of 2008.
I began to have sudden thoughts or realizations of what life might be like to be divorced from Copenhagen. Could I survive by myself? What would I do? How will I do it? Can I do It? Am I strong enough to do it? Every conceivable doubt one could think of would creep into my mind every time I would think of leaving her. I had more self doubt about myself, my life and my future than I had ever had up to that point. It was difficult to imagine living without Copenhagen, she had been my constant companion for most of my life.
The thought of leaving her began as a fantasy that I would play over and over in my mind, until eventually that fantasy began to take on a realistic quality. I don’t think I really wanted to leave her, but something in my subconscious kept telling me that by staying with her, I was putting my life in danger. You can only load a bullet into the chamber, spin the cylinder, stick the barrel to your head and pull the trigger so many times before the law of averages catches up to you and your luck runs out. I had been playing Russian Roulette with a can of Copenhagen for over 32 years, my luck would soon run out and the cylinder would spin one click too far.
I decided to leave her over Thanksgiving, this seemed like a good time to me because I would be away from work and have my family around for support, plus if my face was stuffed with food, I wouldn’t be able to dip. I began with a plan of mixing ½ can Copenhagen with ½ can Hooch for the first few days, then I tapered to 1/4 can Copenhagen with 3/4 can Hooch , and eventually when I felt comfortable I was going to leave her altogether. This was my plan and that is the way I started my quit, however, something unexplainable happened before I completed my quit plan. On Saturday, November the 29th, 2008 exactly 43 years to the date that I came into this world, as I was mixing a can of Cope and Hooch together, I decided enough was enough and this bitch had controlled my life long enough and I was through with her completely. I threw the rest of the Copenhagen cans away and filed for divorce from her that very day!
At first she let me have a little space to think about my decision, but by the 2nd day apart she began to try and talk me out of divorce. She began by whispering into my ear, calling me cute little sexy names, reminding me how wonderful our marriage used to be and how we could revive our relationship, it could become fun and exciting again, she would change, she would not demand so much of my time or attention. She would let me control my life. I almost fell for her lies several times, part of me longed to touch her, feel her and taste her one more time, but my resolve held and I rejected her offers. When she realized she could not lure me back with her lies, she turned from the sweet innocent lover I had know in my youth into a raving lunatic, hell bent on destroying me and my new life. For the next several days she tried everything imaginable to not only punish me, but to torture me into submission. She sent the fog into my brain trying to distort my sense of reasoning and reality, insomnia (I never knew I could operate on so little sleep), fatigue, headache, upset stomach, sore throat, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc.. She even tried to convince me that my sore mouth was a sign that I already had cancer and that if I would only come back to her, she would soothe me and make it better. She tried to punish me in every way imaginable both physically and mentally.
It was at this point that I realized I needed help. I knew I could not continue to fight with her and that she was winning, it was only a matter of time before I gave in and went back to my former life and marriage to her. I needed someone to represent me in this divorce, someone to stand up for my rights and wishes. I needed a support group that I could count on to help me fight this battle. I came across www.killthecan.org while surfing the web and spent several days reading all the valuable information available. I realized there were many other who had already divorced their nicotine addiction and many others who were in the process of divorce. I lurked on site for several days and finally decided on December 10, 2008 that I wanted QS Extreme to represent me in my divorce. I signed on and joined the March group from that moment on I knew this divorce was going to be final. I had found the representation and support that I needed to be rid of Copenhagen once and for all. It was not easy and the fight is still ongoing but little by little the past 3 months she has become disinterested in me and no longer disturbs me on a daily basis, or tortures me the way she once did. She still continues to linger in my life and still has an influence on my life whether I like it or not. Copenhagen will always be like an ex-wife, not really apart of my day to day activities but somehow still intertwined and involved in the manner in which I choose to live my life from now on.
Today March 8, 2009 marks the approval of the Final Divorce from Copenhagen. Today I am a free man with a new life and new possibilities. Today I am no longer married to Copenhagen or to her family the U.S. Tobacco Company. Today I have separated myself permanently from this miserable marriage and though there still may be consequences in the future for my past actions, I am willing to face those with the knowledge, that come what may, I will never have to go through these past 100 days ever again.
I can not thank this site enough, it has been a Godsend in my quit. I am thankful for all my quit brothers and quit supporters, and even thankful for those that just wanted to stir shit up, making each day fun and interesting. As exciting as today’s milestone is, I realize it is but a small step in my quit for my life and I look forward to continuing to offer my input to this forum.