Should I do it?
I know everyone’s first reaction will be a resounding “NO”. But I see smoking as a “skill” that I’d need to learn, sooner or later.
Once in a while, I get a role which requires me to smoke. I’ve tried to fake it twice… without much success. I look so goddarn fake on TV that I want to bayonet myself.
I thought I could pull it off, you know. I observed smokers. I got smoker friends to coach me. I practised with an unlit cigarette. I learned how to draw the “smoke” into my lungs and blow it out, without the smoke, of course. Easy peasy.
What I didn’t, couldn’t, prepare myself for was the moment of impact. Cigarette smoke does not agree with virgin lung.
Who would have thought smoking could be such an excruciatingly painful experience?
I mean, I take in second-hand smoke all the time, everywhere (before the new smoking law was passed). I hang out with smokers. I live with a smoker. I don’t like it, but I can deal with it.
I really thought I had it nailed.
But when the camera started rolling and they popped a lit cigarette in my mouth, my lungs screamed bloody murder. Before I could even fully inhale my first puff, my protesting lungs tried to kill me by forcing me to cough a kidney out.
It took several takes for me to master the pain of the smoke slicing into my lungs. I made like I was inhaling smoke but I actually kept it all in my mouth. Of course, some errant smoke would invariably sneak its way into my lungs, making me cough and spoiling the take, but it was easier to manage than the full onslaught of wilful inhalation.
I survived my first smoking scene. Barely.
Second time I had to smoke in a scene was four months later, I thought I could do better already. After all, my lungs weren’t virgin anymore. They could jolly well take the abuse.
I practised for the scene, again with an unlit cigarette. I practised looking like I was inhaling without actually inhaling. I was good to go!
My lungs, my stupid lungs, went into mutiny at the first lick of errant smoke wisping south. This time, they made me cough my liver out.
Having to control the coughing, my performance became strained. Not good.
That’s why I told myself: The next time I get a smoking role, I will learn to smoke for real. If I have to become a smoker, so be it.
Nothing wrong with being a smoker, is there? Like, half the population of the world smokes.
So now, I got my third smoking role.
Problem is that it’s a four-minute short film. The smoking scene will run for as long as is needed for me to light a cigarette and take one puff. Is it worth it becoming a smoker for this?
The artist in me says yes. I must do it well this time. In the film, I want to look like I’ve been smoking my whole life. I owe it to the director and to my integrity as an actress to do the best I possibly can, even if it’s just for a five-second shot in a four-minute film that will possibly only be seen by a handful of people.
After all, I have to start sometime. This will probably not be the last smoking role I’ll get.
The worrier in me says hold it.
The director, finding out that I don’t smoke, had offered to think of an alternative that might achieve the mood he wants for that shot.
I said I didn’t mind picking up smoking just to do that shot well.
He said we’ll discuss it further down the road. Maybe do a test to see how I look smoking. If I really can’t handle it, he’ll rewrite the shot.
But I don’t want a director’s work to be compromised on account of me, so I want to do the smoking scene and do it well.
Only I worry about the consequences. I worry about addiction. I have zero willpower when it comes to addiction, as can be attested to by the inordinate amount of time I spend on computer gaming and by the terrifying amount of fried chicken I eat.
If I really get addicted, I will have a hard time kicking the addiction because half my regular hangout friends are smokers.
I worry about the cost of supporting a smoking habit.
I worry about the damage to my lungs and hair and teeth and complexion.
I worry about becoming like one of those disgusting bloody plctures on cigarette packets I’m forced to look at every time a friend whips out a packet.
Everything just points to a huge neon sign saying “Don’t do it.”
But I must. If I can’t give my best shot to something I’m really passionate about, then what the hell am I doing alive?
Maybe I won’t get addicted. Maybe I can practise just enough to pass off convincingly as a smoker but not get addicted.
Maybe it’s the mindset. If I refuse to get addicted, maybe I won’t?
There are people who are social smokers, aren’t there? I don’t understand them, though. I’ve studied substance abuse and addiction in psychology class. I learnt that tobacco causes a physical addiction that is hard to fight because of the bodily demands inflicted by the addiction. So you either just smoke your lungs dead or you quit and never look back.
How do social smokers smoke only once in a while without craving to smoke all the time?
That’s what this blog entry is about, actually. I’m wondering if people who have smoked could share your experiences. Tell me what it’s like. Whether you’re a chain smoker or social smoker or only tried it once in your life, I’d like to hear your views.
When does the addiction kick in, in the first place? I mean, I’ve tried to smoke twice and both times I nearly died doing it. No way in hell would I ever want to do it again without good reason.
So why would people continue smoking despite the trauma of the first puff, and how many sticks does it take for an average person to get used to it and start enjoying it?
Do I have a chance of just doing it for a couple of weeks and then stopping?
All comments will be much appreciated.