I am a person with a monkey on his back. Granted, it’s a really thin, pathetic looking monkey, an extremely poor little monkey, but a monkey all the same. I’m addicted to tobacco.
Interestingly enough, this can be used to distinguish a desperately impoverished person from someone who’s just poor: the former doesn’t have enough money to support his or her addiction. Believe me, when I get money, the very first thing I buy is not food or gasoline or coffee, it’s a pack of Camel Straights. Sorry, Mom, I didn’t really buy new underwear with the birthday check you sent…. That must be why they call it an addiction.
Since the aforementioned little monkey doesn’t seem to care that I’m broke, however, I must find alternative methods to placate it. In the beginning of Extreme Poverty, when I ran out of cigarettes and couldn’t afford them, I used to smoke butts with a roach clip, or re-roll the butt tobacco into handmade cigarettes when I could afford cigarette papers.
These days, however, I’ve perfected a better nicotine delivery system – I break open old cigarette butts and put the resulting tobacco into a container, which I then smoke with a pipe. I have three old but serviceable pipes from a previous incarnation when I thought I wanted to project a professorial image, and I rotate through these regularly. The advantage of this system is that no tobacco is wasted as it is in cigarette buttage, store-bought or otherwise.
The really weird thing is that at this point in my bleak life I take this whole process for granted, and don’t even think twice about breaking up butts and smoking them in a pipe. I used to think this was really pathetic, and it would sadden me greatly and make me angry with myself whenever I had to resort to this. Things have changed, however. I’ve kept cigarette butts for some time now, and have two (what used to be) 2-pound coffee cans full of old butts (and ash and paper bits and…). While breaking apart the butts can be a tedious job, I usually do it while watching some mindless TV show or listening to the radio (if the electricity is on, of course). I find I have become an accomplished butt-breaker, for whatever that’s worth. Be forewarned, however, that butt-breaking is a very dirty business. No joke. Okay, a little joke, but it is still -- and I can’t even rephrase this like I should -- a dirty business.