Well, I’ve stalled for long enough so I guess I need to draft my HOF speech. I wanted to make sure that my HOF speech was entertaining, insightful, genuine, and inspiring. After I wrote this I realized I might not have touched on any but “genuine” … so I guess I’ll have to hang my hat on that…
Unlike many of you guys, I didn’t dip for 35 years. BUT, like many of you, I DID quit already. I quit and then came back. Unbelievably stupid.
Ok… so it all started way back in 1992. I was in my late teens and at a summer party. Much booze was ingested, and two friends and I were sitting on a couch in the living room around 1 in the morning. Our heads were buzzing pretty good and this guy we worked with (we worked at a cool go-kart/waterslide/mini-golf place in the summer) came over and asked us if we’d ever “dipped” before. This dude was awesome… super funny dude… totally cool… just social gold – gold! Plus, he was 2 years older than us and we totally looked up to him (the bastard!). So, we shook our heads no and he gave each of us a pinch of Skoal. I’m sure that it was wintergreen (yuk!). So, each of us took our pinch and the freaking world started to spin. In hindsight I don’t see the attraction of the room spinning at 1am surrounded by drunk people, but it seemed cool at the time. Well, as most of you know… don’t swallow the juice! My buddy Dave didn’t heed the advice and off he ran to puke in the bathroom. Dan and I, on the otherhand, seemed to be just fine. We were the winners! Sort-of.
So, Dave never dipped again, his weak stomach allowed him to escape the nic-bitch. Dan and I, on the other hand (and our iron digestive systems) did not. The next morning we ran out to get ourselves a tin of dip and the game was on.
Over the next few years I dipped to the point of a tin a day. One funny story… I was at my parent’s house alone and dipping. My folks had a KILLER stereo system with these HUGE speakers (hey kids, when I grew up people had BIG speakers and didn’t put “earbuds” in their heads to listen to music. We listened to music TOGETHER). I have Van Halen cranked up and was reading a magazine or something. The music was so loud that I didn’t hear my folks drive in the garage. My dad came in, saw me dipping and just walked away. Later he simply told me, “that stuff will rot your mouth out.” Truer words were never spoken.
So, as college was winding down I started to have terrible dreams about my teeth falling out of my mouth. Did any of you have those dreams? It got so bad that I woke up once thinking I had swallowed my teeth and couldn’t breathe. I knew I had to quit. Quitting wasn’t easy, as you know, and I’m not proud to say that I dumpster-dived a few times in my life to rereive a full tin of dip that I had thrown away the night before when I intded to “quit”. Websites like this didn’t existing 1993. Anyhow, I eventually committed to quitting the day I graduated college. This was 1995. And I did.
While I DID quit the day I got my diploma, the nic-bitch was always lurking. I was soon smoking a cigar at a golf tournament or a stag-party. I was smoking cigarettes “only when I drink”… which turned into “only during a round of golf”… I was never a smoker, but I dabbled every so often.
Fast forward to 2007. I’ve been in a fantasy baseball league with some college friends since 2000. Each year I drive down to PA from New England and draft my baseball team and hang out for the weekend with some old friends. In 2007 I drove down with a guy who was local to me, but I didn’t really know him. He was friends with a friend who was in the league. So, we drove down and he started dipping some Kodiak. It was a 6 hour drive, so I figured, why not? I took a dip and my head started spinning! It wasn’t long after that ride that was hooked again. This was 12 years after I had quit! Why??
I think back to that trip, and the following weeks and realize that I started for a number of reasons. One, I was (and always will be) an addict. In addition, I was in my late 30’s and I have to admit that it seemed like a “young” thing to do… I didn’t want to be a “smoker” but dipping? That something you do in college… I guess that was some of the attraction. Finally, my marriage was in the duldroms and I figure that dipping became an escape from the issues. Of course, not only did it become an escape, it became a way to avoid the issues altogether – which only made things worse.
When I first started up I was only dipping maybe 5 or 6 times a week… it slowly turned into maybe once a day… and then it turned into a tin every 2 or 3 days. I remember the first time I bought a new tin… I felt like such a scumbag… on top of it all I had 2 young kids that I wanted to hide this from… not to mention hiding it from my wife. It became a shameful habit that I kept to myself.
I eventually switched to Skoal Pouches so I could easily pop one in and then toss the evidence quickly. It let me dip without chew getting stuck in my teeth. Soon I was dipping on the way to work, the way home, going to get the mail, weeding in the garden. The worst was that I needed to get my “nightly” dip in before bed. Unreal… I would wait for everyone to go to sleep – including my wife – and then go into the basement to watch tv and dip. Hmmmm… wonder why my wife thought I didn’t love her? The addiction was running and ruining my life.
Well, 5 years after I re-started my love affair with nicotine I ended up divorced. It wasn’t soley because of nicotine, but that was a part of it… If I hadn’t shuttered myself in the basement each night dipping maybe things would have worke dout differently. Who knows?
Well, about a month after my divorce, and much soul-searching, reading, talking, introspection, and praying I realized that I needed to change ME. While the divorce wasn’t all my fault, I WAS at fault for some of it… and if I wanted to live a healthy and happy life in the future I needed to change. So, the first step was to get rid of the silly, expensive, and self-destructive activity of chweing tobacco. As many of you know, it seemed like an impossibility (although I guess I thought being divorced would never happen to me as well). I had often thought about quitting dip over the previous 12 months or so, but I never thought I’d actually DO IT. In fact, looking back I surprised I DID DO IT. Not because I lack the self-control, but because of the circumstances. So many people would have drowned their sorrows with their vices during such a stressful and tumultuous time. While I’m not proud of all my behaviors, I AM proud that I realized that the only way to “right the ship” of my life was to change the only thing in this world that I COULD change – which was my behavior. So… that first week was TOUGH. But… after 5 days or so I got hope. I hadn’t gone 5 days without a dip in like 3 years. That is 1095 days – wow!
At this point I realized that perhaps I COULD do it. After day 30 or so it was pretty smooth sailing. In fact, doing it during the craziness of my divorce I think actually helped me because I had so many other things on my mind that I didn’t think all that much about dipping. I had a SERIOUS craving during Hurricane Sandy, but afterwards I was pretty good. Now, I never think about it.
I realize that I don’t have the 30 years of living with tobacco that some of you had to deal with, but I was hooked all the same. It is really amazing how TAKING THE FIRST STEP AND JUST STOPPING FOR THE 1ST DAY can turn into 2 days, which turns into 5, which turns into 140. I implore anyone of you thinking about quitting to just try to stop for day 1. Worry about Day 2 tomorrow.