Dear Hookah. You’ve been fun. But we’re over.

24 days ago Life44

July 1st, 2017. That’s the official day I stop smoking hookah. It’s something I’ve been saying for a while. I keep telling myself “I need to quit. It’s not worth it. You’re going to save so much money.” And yet here I am smoking a bowl of delicious white mint Starbuzz Hookah and writing a blog post about quitting. Ironic, right? There are a number of reasons to quit. I could list them out. However, I have a better idea. I’m going to share my story.

Before I share my story, it’s important to know I’ve tried this before. I made it two weeks. I wasn’t fun to be around and I started making excuses on why I needed it back in my life. One thing leads to another and here I am. Smoking.

When we first met

I was 18 when I was first introduced to smoking Hookah. I was with some friends on the UNLV campus. We were sitting around a circular table. This guy comes out and puts this gigantic hookah in front of us. It had two hoses and smelled like strawberry. Before that moment, I had never smoked before. I was really big into sports and everyone knows those two do not mix. I thought it over and I wanted to be part of the group. Peer pressure got to me. Strike one.

I saw a security guard walking towards us. I alerted the group and asked them to hide the hookah. I’ll be honest. I had no idea what we were doing. I didn’t know if it was legal. I didn’t know if there were drugs inside of it. The guy who brought it out told me to chill. “We’re fine. It’s legal to smoke this out here. Don’t worry about it” he said. Strike two and three.

We sat around for about an hour. We talked about a bunch of random subjects. All while smoking. When the coal died, the group parted ways.

The next hookah encounter

I was 20 years old. I had just gotten back to Reno, NV. I traveled on the road with my job managing an independent thrill ride. That was the summer of my life. I had been in Reno for about 8 months. I moved out of an apartment and into a house with three other roommates. That’s when Cameron called.

Cameron was an all-star football player for Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. He was 18, but his parents did not allow him to have any kind of sin in their house. He called me one day and asked if he could swing by and hang out. I agreed. Cameron showed up with this 18-inch blue hookah he called “The Blue Genie”. He asked me if it would be ok if we smoked from it.

I had smoked before and not become addicted. So I figured that would be the outcome again. I was wrong.

Cameron, Cody, Daveo and I smoked from the water pipe for about an hour and a half. Again, we talked about a bunch of random topics. All four of us worked together. Naturally, work came up. After the coal died, Cameron asked me if it would be ok to leave the hookah at my place. He stated I was free to smoke from it whenever I wanted. I just had to buy the Shisha and coals. And I had to leave him at least one bowl for whenever he came over. I had questions.

How do you use a hookah? I mean, until this point I had other people do all the heavy lifting. Where do you buy shisha and coals? I was a noob, to say the least. After Cameron gave me the run down, he left. I immediately lighted another bowl and I was hooked.

The funny thing was that the Blue Genie was my way into becoming friends with all my roommates and their friends. I’ve always had trouble making friends. Once I brought it out in front of my roommates, we started talking a lot more. I offered the same courtesy to them as Cameron did to me. Things were going well.

Social smoking

I had only seen scenes in movies where people bonded over smoking. Now I was living in one. I met this woman named Amber. We met at a party my roommates threw and we bonded over smoking. We became friends and anytime we hung out, a hookah was involved.

It’s important to know that before I met Amber, I smoked maybe once a week. After meeting her, I was smoking two or three times a week. We invited each other to different parties and always wound up back at her place or mine. Smoking.

A few years went by and I started smoking a lot less. That’s until I met Michelle. At this time, I had moved to Las Vegas and started attending a lot of hardcore metal concerts. Some friends of mine came down from Reno. They were in a band called This Calendar year. They opened for another band I was friends with called The Cab. I met Michelle and her friend Gina at that show. We started to hang out shortly after.

She would invite me out with her friends and we met at this hookah lounge called Chandelier. We would meet up around 8:00 pm and smoke until 1:00 am. Sometimes I would invite Michelle over to my place and we would smoke there. I mean, I had a hookah by this time. I smoked every day. I probably owned two or three by this point.

Insomniac smoking

I’ve always had troubles sleeping. When I was little, I wanted to stay up and watch the night time shows. My parents said no and I went to bed. When I was in high school, I would stay up late and listen to Loveline with Dr. Drew and Adam Carolla. My insomnia never went way. In fact, as I got older and had less rules about staying up late, it got worse. I would stay up all night and sleep all day.

One night, I was out back on my parent’s patio. I had my computer and hookah. I was just bullshitting around and decided I was going to learn how to build WordPress sites. I would smoke two or three bowls a night. For two years. I had developed my WP skills. I was building full blown websites nightly. While smoking.

For me, it became almost like a ritual. Build a site and smoke. I associated my smoking to my success. I started to believe I couldn’t progress without smoking while learning. I advise you if you’re reading this, DONT MAKE THIS MISTAKE. Your success is not dependent on anything else other than your will to succeed.

Why I’m quitting smoking hookah

Over the last few years, I’ve reflected on my past. Every memory I have involves smoking. It’s not a good thing. I promise. It’s to the point where I’ll watch a Nascar race and load a new hookah bowl every 50 laps. There are usually 200 – 250 laps per race. Then I’ll smoke again when something else comes on. And I’ll keep smoking throughout the night.

It’s become more of a problem than an enjoyment.

I’ve decided that it’s time to stop smoking. We’re moving into our new place on July 1st, 2017. I don’t want smoking to follow me everywhere I go. I don’t want hookah to impact my relationship. I don’t want smoking to be an option for my child. There’s the real reason. My child to be. Our child will be here sometime in late September or early October. I need to have a 100% smoke-free environment. It’s time I stop.

So here’s to you hookah. You’ve been there for me when I needed you the most. I’ve listened to a million songs and podcasts with you. However, it’s over. We’re done.

We’re going out with a bang. This last week, June 24th through June 30th of 2017, we’re getting it all out of our system. I’ve bought a bunch of my favorite flavors. I made a deal with Jill that she won’t say a word for the rest of the week as long as she gets to smash you into a million little pieces.

I think that’s going to be the breaking point for me. As long as I can’t see a hookah, I won’t want to smoke. As long as there’s nothing to smoke, I won’t smoke. As long as it’s not an option anymore, we’ll be done.

I’m quitting smoking hookah, and that’s final. Maybe when our child is older, I’ll think about revisiting you. NOT!

Russell Aaron