Don’t most of us use expressions that mean nothing, that can’t really explain why those combinations of letters come to mean something we agree on but don’t always know why?
I’m referring to the archaic expression “cold turkey.” Where did that come from? When I smoked for 25 years about 33 years ago, friends, family, doctors and others advised me to “quit cold turkey.” By that they meant I wasn’t to hide an emergency stash of Salems in the trunk of my car, or to allow myself just one cigarette in the morning upon arising and just one more at night, or to simply stop buying those cancer sticks.
Although cold turkey has no doubt worked for many, a great number of smokers choose to “taper off.”
I think quitting, when I did, in 1984 was as difficult as trying to ferret out a reason why the term “cold turkey” ever came about. I used to hear it a lot — mostly from adults whose bellows and exhalations filled our house. All eight of us Trujillos smoked for a time. Mom smoked Luckies, Dad smoked pipes and Roi Tan cigars. Uncle Juan bought a pack of Camels every day, and the rest of us smoked — my late brother, Severino, was a smoker, as was I. Our three sisters were no strangers to cigarettes, although my recollection is that they smoked small quantities, and not for long. Continue reading