Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tea Beats Cigarette Butts

Yesterday, for the first time in months, Cockatoo forgot to smoke her daily 3 or 4 discarded cigarette butts, which she usually spends about an hour each evening trolling around her neighborhood for.

You might think it's gross, but there are really very few diseases you can catch from smoking someone else's cigarette after it's been exposed to the elements for several hours. And even if it has only recently been smoked and is still warm and moist, what are the chances that the original smoker had TB or some strain of herpes that Cockatoo doesn't already have? Besides, all the walking makes for a relaxing ritual, it's good for the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle, remember?), and it's very easy on the wallet. It's also a highly effective way to keep the addiction under control; there are never any packs of cigs lying around, calling to you, siren-like.

Anyway, 2 am rolled around and Cockatoo suddenly remembered that she hadn't smoked. And now it was too late to smoke because the nicotine keeps Cockatoo awake at night (technically morning and afternoon.) So what could have made her forget to take her medication? The only thing that keeps at bay the urge to strangle her own pretty birdie neck?

TEA. The magical properties of tea. Specifically, the fact of drinking home-brewed tea compulsively, as in cup after cup after cup after cup after cup. And then maybe one more cup. And another. It seems Cockatoo unwittingly replaced an unhealthy, addiction-based ritual with a healthy, compulsion-based one.

All the tea Cockatoo was drinking yesterday in the hopes of curing her emerging appendicitis (or whatever else may be causing the persistent slight pain in her lower right abdomen that she's forced to treat with alternative remedies because she can't afford to get it checked out by a doctor thanks to the current cost of health insurance, the psychological and physiological ailments impairing her ability to hold a regular job, and her irrepressible desire to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the world,) must have somehow knocked out the nicotine cravings.

(Oh, and about the pain, it's been around for months, so, actually, it probably isn't appendicitis. The appendix would have ruptured by now. So it's probably more like a tumor or large ovarian cyst or something. Nothing tea can't handle.)

There is something very relaxing about guiltlessly indulging in a compulsive behavior. Cockatoo says "guiltlessly" because she's quite the ascetic, and normally any kind of indulgence, especially in a somewhat pathetic, unproductive, compulsive type of behavior, will make her feel guilty for not being all she can be. This doesn't actually stop her from indulging, though, since it's hard to be ascetic when you lack will-power, so Cockatoo tends to carry around a very large load of guilt. It's like a caravan of guilt, with every man, woman, child, camel, dog, cat, and large, named rodent (these are pet-loving people) representing a different source of guilt.

Anyway, tea drinking, fortunately, is one of those activities that is totally socially sanctioned and, if anything, improves productivity, by improving over-all health, even when done compulsively. (And I'm using "compulsively" in a loose way here - mostly just because it's a nice, sexy word - meaning that it was an act repetitive to the point of being slightly ridiculous, not that it was something irrational I couldn't help doing. Cockatoo doesn't do irrational.) Because it's totally good for you and totally socially accepted no matter how much you drink, it's one of the rare activities you can go TOTALLY WILD with. You can be that CrAZy tEa DRiNkER you always wanted to be!!! (WOOOOIIIIIEEEEE!!!)

But let's be serious. Tea drinkers are serious people. So let's be serious.

Repetitive behaviors are comforting, that's part of the reason people like rituals, because their repetitive. Repetition means familiarity, the familiar is comfortable. So allowing for a few exceptions, like when the familiar is the beating you're partner gives you every night (someone please help me), that's Cockatoo's theory. And compulsive behaviors are generally highly repetitive behaviors, so it kind of makes sense that they'd be comforting.

I wasn't really into the tea drinking yesterday because it was compulsive, though. No, Cockatoo was drinking all that tea because she liked the idea of mega-dosing on all those wonderful antioxidants. She really does believe it will cure whatever's malfunctioning in her lower-right abdomen. Those chest pains, too. And the tingle in her left foot.


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