carry it with you

the things in my pocket:

gum, keys, phone
receipts, a little money
cards, step counter, ear buds

are the things I need
not the things I want

the things I want:
breath, youth, love, power, fame

need to be closer
for instant access

The things in my pocket

I’m not complaining.  I’ve read Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.”

If, in my gut, I don’t appreciate how lucky I am — at least I have some intellectual understanding of how lucky I am.

But here is what I carry in my left pocket:

• nicotine gum

Nicotine Gum
Nicotine Gum

• iphone

• iphone earbuds


• a 3/4 inch thick wad of cards (debit card, driver’s license, library card, health insurance card, social security card, AAA card, and, for some strange reason, my tiny little laminated high school diploma).

wad of cards

wad of cards

I don’t carry a wallet.  I used to.  Then I went to the doctor one day with a lot of pain in my hip.  I thought it was a sciatic nerve problem.  He suggested I quit sitting on the wallet in my back pocket — a quick and easy cure.

A few more things in my left front pocket:

•drops for my eyes


•a tube of extremely therapeutic gunk I got from an herbal store — also for my eyes


•a pedometer


In my right pocket, I carry a couple of pens, a sharpie, and whatever change is there.

In my right back pocket, I carry cash (not much, if any), and my business cards.  I should carry more of these, but I don’t want the hip pain from sitting on cards.

In my left back pocket, I deposit other people’s business cards.

This is a lot of stuff — especially the left front pocket.  Frequently, I lose things.  Once I lose them, I spend a lot of time looking for them.  Often, I find them — in my left pocket.  Sometimes I look for things in there and have to take stuff out in order to find what I’m looking for.  Then I lose what I’ve taken out.

Sometimes, I take one thing out and something else accidentally drops to the ground.

Tonight I lost my nicotine gum. Still haven’t found it.

My wife told me I needed a purse.  She tells me this a lot.  We laughed about the Seinfeld European Carry-all episode.  “It’s not a purse. It’s European!”

She insisted I give it a try.

My daughter, the fashion expert, said it made me look even more ridiculous than I already look.

I thought I’d see for myself, so Alicia took a picture (see below).

Not gonna happen.

I might start shopping for a tiny backpack.


Nicotine Gum

Nicotine gum

Ah, another piece of nicotine gum.

By the time you see this particular piece, it’s been chewed and discarded — along with many others.

I buy the Walmart generic in quantity and chew it all the time.

I ranted against smoking as a child and then took up the habit in college, during a semester in Venice. Everybody did. And we all thought we could quit.

I did quit.  Many times.  Sometimes for years at a time.  I used the patch, the gum, hypnosis, and Smokenders.  Between 1976 and 1996, I probably smoked about ten of those twenty years.

In February of 1997, I quit for good.  The motivation was coughing, bronchitis, and the fear of pneumonia. Said motivation occurred on closing night of a play, Slient Visit.

Silent visit had a barely decent reception as dinner theatre at The Wrenn House, in Salisbury, NC.  Prior to the Charlotte production, one of the actors fell off a horse and injured herself.  The director simply cut her scenes from the show.

The ten year old kid who had the most lines got the flue a couple of weeks before the show.  Then he got behind in school and decided not to rehearse anymore.  He couldn’t remember his lines anyway, when the show was in Salisbury — so he really didn’t remember them in Charlotte.

It was a fairly bad play already, and this made it perhaps one of the worst plays to ever grace a stage in Charlotte, NC.  It ran for two weeks and the audience size ranged from two to ten.  It got two of the most negative reviews I’ve ever read about any play.  Both reviews singled-out the author as the primary problem.  The author of the play was me.

At one point, during rehearsal, someone asked me what kind of play Silent Visit was.  I said it was a “comedy.”   One of the actors responded that she thought it was a “dark drama.”

At a cast party, an audience member asked me what kind of weed I was smoking when I wrote it.

During the excruciating two week run, I smoked myself silly.  When the play closed, I couldn’t stop coughing and could hardly breath.  The next morning I started chewing nicotine gum and have done so every day since.

Nine years.

People often ask if I’ve tried to quit the gum.  Not really.

I’m a drug addict and content to be one.

Often, during intermission of a show, I walk outside, pop a piece of gum in my mouth, and join the smokers.

I’ve made gum runs to Walmart in the middle of the night.

[Note:  With some heavy revision — such that it’s clearly a comedy and makes sense — I think Silent Visit is a weird enough to actually be a decent play.  One day, I may re-visit Silent Visit.]