Sunday morning cigarettes are the best. It’s because it is the only day I allow myself to partake in, what society calls, a nasty habit. I look forward to it every weekend. It’s a remedy for the countless Sunday hangovers I’ve quelled in my numerous years of drinking. This Sunday was no different.
It was 7:00 AM, and my headache became too intense to sleep any longer, so I decided it must be time for my morning smoke. I tried to replay events from the previous night, but everything was still a jumbled mess of whirs and blurs. I crawled out of bed and forced myself into a standing position. The spins started swirling inside my head, and I almost collapsed back onto the bed. Luckily, I grabbed the nightstand and regained my composure. I grabbed my pack of Du Maurier, my lighter, and made a b-line straight for the deck.
“Fuck!” I mumbled under my breath. I was in such a hurry to have a cigarette, I forgot to make some coffee. Before I could even spark the flint of the lighter, I was back inside, hating life and trying hard — way harder than I should have — to make myself a pot of caffeinated goodness.
As I stood there waiting, a cloud of uncertainty fell over me. I was in a haze, and every synapse and message to the brain slowed. Each thought and each signal waded through the murky cesspool of last night’s debauchery. After what seemed like forever, the wait for coffee was over. I poured the black sludge into a mug, leaving no room for cream and sugar, and headed back outside.
I stepped outside, and a breeze of fresh, cold air ricocheted off my face, sending shivers down my spine. It was cold outside, but the freshness cleared away some of the fog muddling my mind. I took a sip of coffee and instantly felt better — not perfect, but the day was shaping up to be alright. Even after my sip, I could still taste the peat of the scotch from the previous night — a lingering kiss of smoke and caramel.
Finally, the time arrived. I swung open the top of the cardboard pack, holding my one of my many vices, and slid a single, perfect cigarette between my index and middle finger. I caressed and cradled this carcinogenic stick like a lover I didn’t want to leave. After only a slight hesitation, the filter was in my mouth. The cilia prepared for their weekly numbing, and my lungs readied to take a beating.
My thumb, a boulder rolling across the top of the lighter, sparked the flint, and a glorious yellow-orange flame burst into existence. Delicately, I drew the flame to the tip of the dart. I inhaled — for the slightest moment, everything stopped.
All of my stresses disappeared. The weight of last night — hell, even the weight of the world — vaporized, and I exhaled a nice plume of smoke. The sting of the white and gray smoke billowing through my nose made me feel alive.
Until now, everything was a struggle. My head and vision cleared — replaced by a familiar wispy acquaintance. One inhale of my Sunday morning friend, and I felt like I could tackle the day — no task would stand in my way. After the smoke cleared, my senses started to pick up, and I took in my surroundings. The deck was riddled with remnants of other Sunday mornings. Butts swam in beer bottle caps. Empty crumpled cans of beer scattered the corners of the deck.
I took another sip of coffee. The caffeine rushed straight to my head and started giving me the spins. The green trees, blue sky, and the yellow-orange rays shining from the sun mixed in dizzying fashion — a common occurrence when I drank too much the night before. I needed to drink coffee to wake myself up, but it always gave me the worst headache. To counteract the headache, I needed the fresh air and my morning smoke.
I took another drag. The day inched toward tolerable. I sat there listening to the birds sing beautiful wake-up songs. The warmth of the sun washed over me with its energizing rays. The vitamin D from the giant gas-ball furthered my road to recovery.
A neighbour walked outside and started up the barbeque and side grill. A few minutes later, I heard sizzling bacon and frying eggs. The crackle of cooked food sounded more heavenly than angels singing. The smell made my stomach rumble.
The coffee and cigarettes had to sustain me for a bit longer — until I could muster the strength to leave the house. Even if I had the strength, the grocery store wasn’t open. It was only 7:30 AM, and the nearest grocery store opened at 8:00 AM. Nevertheless, I likely wasn’t going to make an effort to see the employees flip the sign to open and unlock the doors.
The other neighbour came out to enjoy the majestic Sunday morning. She reciprocated my love for a morning smoke. I always liked when we crossed paths. She walked outside with such magnificence, lit her cigarette, and played some killer tunes. Her music tastes were vast — ranging from folk, classic rock, alternative, and crazy indie stuff. I liked that. Today was Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, my favourite album to deal with a hangover.
Wham! The sudden shock of hearing Second Hand News brought a slew of memories from last night’s blackout. First, there were just glimpses of single images here and there — snippets of the highlights.
One photo flashed through my mind — me and a bunch of strangers on a stage singing karaoke. I grabbed my phone to look for clues. To little surprise, I sent three new text messages. All of them to people not previously in my phone’s contact list. Every single one had the same message, “Jonathon.” It’s the first message I send to everyone the instant they occupy a spot in my contacts list.
I regularly found new people to hang out with during a night of debauchery. I got their number thinking we were going to hang out and be the best of friends. I never sent them another text. These people weren’t my friends. And even if I got a girl’s number during a drunken stupor, it wasn’t someone I wanted to occupy my time. They were all just placeholders. Our future together would end up as figments in my memory.
Another deep inhale — more photos flashed. I saw faceless people without the faintest recollection of having a good time. When I got into these moods, I wasn’t looking for friends. I was looking to escape my reality. The only way back to reality — to wade through the fog — my coffee and Sunday morning cigarette. Exhale.
The smell of bacon and eggs overtook my focus. I looked at the time and mumbled, “Shit.” Only 15 minutes had passed, leaving 15 more minutes before the grocery store opened.
My coffee was gone. I was on the last glorious puff of my cigarette. I became a little sad — it was my last until the following Sunday. The one constant in my life took so little time to consume. My smoking- and music-loving neighbour would stay outside until the end of the album, making the remainder of my morning bittersweet. I inhaled one last time and tossed the butt into one of the empty cans — the final embers swallowed by the darkness of the can.
I took in the beauty of the day. It started rough, but I sensed the day was worth living. If Saturdays were my escape from the hellish week, Sundays were my resurrection from the fiery pits of hell.
Feeling rejuvenated, there were a few things left to do before I faced the day. It was time to head back to bed, take a nap, and hope what little of my hangover remained was gone when I woke up. Then maybe, just maybe, I could find the strength to leave the confines of my comfortable home in search of bacon and eggs.
Surely, by that time, the store would be open.