Date: March 21, 2007 10:49 AM
The Power of Nicotine
Canteen day here at Brannen Lake. The egg with the flat bottom manages to crank over to its rounded side once again… barely. The cigarette shortage that is commonplace come Tuesday and Wednesday is only further imperilled by the new arrivals, of which we’ve had four. All of whom are ardent smokers. More so than me, judging from the frequency of their requests for help. So seldom are their efforts rewarded with a full cigarette, that their nicotine teased lungs compel them to hover around conspicuously, determined to peck away at the dregs of those who have and who’s tolerance for such antics dwindles in relation to their supply. I ought to know, for I am thankfully stocked enough for myself and then some. Not only do I take my smoking seriously when I do it, I’m thankfully supported financially by those on the outside who love me. Thank you Scott, James, Savage, and The Compassion Club! Anyways, my entire week’s supply got ground down to a single aprés dinner cigarette just prior to the call of canteen. It’s proving to be the norm. I have to say that at least I’m being reimbursed. Perhaps not entirely 100% by everyone but enough to keep me appeased. What little that I’m out of pocket for such discrepancy I gain in social cachet. While I’m not looking to make popular with everyone, I feel established enough for the time I’ve logged thus far and I’m keenly aware that no one here wants to bite the hand that feeds them. There might be some nibbling but it comes at the cost of position. They ask. I don’t. It gives me a measure of status strangely enough and that is a form of protection from bullshit. It’s not as though there aren’t other costs for me, mind you. The methods employed in asking, begging, take many forms. The indebted feeling and subsequent gratitude for my facilitation means I have to listen to more than I’d care, often. Stories and hare-brained schemes abound. Beyond the obligatory ‘thank-you’s’ are tales of anticipated monies that at times sound further away than discharge dates. To diagram the paper trail of tax returns, PST and GST cheques, girlfriends and family a world away, that seemingly prioritize transferring monies as highly as their need to receive them, can look akin to a schematic of the old ‘flea flicker’ play:
Invariably, I’m also made privy to the reasons for their being here to boot. None of this is really of import or interest to me so it can be as draining to listen to as it is draining to my nicotine supply. This place does force one to be tolerant when you have to cohabitate. While a simple thank-you might be enough for these reasons, it can also be seen as too singular in focus. Just as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, offering 2 for 1 is more indicative of desperation in the now, than an ability to follow through when considering what we all earn here. So too are the interesting tales told that hold little interest to me. To not be made as a mooch, most anything can and will be said. At least I’m not cast in such a role for the financial backing I’ve got. Truly fortunate I am! The cycle is established and it will only repeat itself. The faces and their lungs might change but the methods employed in pursuit of the almighty nicotine will show the same consistency as the cycle. At least I’m on top of the ebb and flow. It makes life in this place manageable. I couldn’t handle being on the other side of the coin in such casting of roles. I’d just quit smoking altogether. It would simply behoove me to go around jonesing on everyone. It’s too much to give up for a measly nic-fit. Giving ground up so easily (and needlessly, it could be argued) in a place such as this can compromise one’s experience unbearably. Hell, even Sean Miller, who once threatened me with a beating hit me up for a smoke! He’s proven to be no sweat to me since and his juvenile tendencies annoying but harmless. The range has taken to calling him Furry, in reference to his Big Dawg assertions, almost mockingly. It’s rather priceless to my perspective. The psychotic, tough guy persona has met with enough needling and derision from most everyone, that Furry could well describe the truer texture of his being. It is not to say that he isn’t some piece of work, but there’s too many of the rest of us for him to mesmerize or hold sway over. Everything gets exposed in such tight quarters, and quickly. Furry the flaky psychotic! It has been suggested that he exhibits signs of drug psychosis. “Crack will do that to a person’s mind.” I don’t doubt it for an instant. The other day he casually mentioned that he was the third ranked BMX rider in the world. In the world! There’s no end to this guy’s stories. What initially was very difficult to take has increasingly become hilariously entertaining in a way. Anyways, there he was yesterday calling me Mikey, as he’s looking for a smoke. Like we’re buddies or something. Amazing. It was my golden opportunity to foist back in his face how boorish he was toward me all that time ago. I probably could have held out for an apology given the desperation quotient I’ve alluded to, but I didn’t. I gave even him that which he requested. He’s still big. He’s still volatile and, as of this writing, I’m still reasonably cute and intact. Big Sean-y, my friend?! Nah! But at least he’s not the threat he fancied himself as being.