Do You Believe In Magic? or How I Finally Quit Smoking

I used to smoke.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t even start until I was 24: unfiltered Lucky Strikes. I liked imports but rarely had the money to buy them. But living in Arizona, I was introduced to Delicados, a Mexican cigarette you could pick up cheap in Nogales. Basically a harsher Lucky Strike in rose-scented paper.

I can’t for the life of me explain why I liked these, but I did.

The impact on my health was dramatic. I’d get winded and light-headed at work just pushing boxes. By the time I didn’t drink any more, I was hooked on cigarettes even though I’d only been smoking a couple years. I tried to quit a few times and failed, trying new things each time to lessen the addiction. I ended up switching to American Spirit Lights and cutting the filters in half.

Hey, it was an improvement.

Back then smoking American Spirits was a total pain in the ass. Most places didn’t carry them and pretty much no one had websites yet. By this time I was on the road, so every week I’d be in a new town having to scout around for a place that sold my brand.

If I spent all the time reading that I spent trying to find my brand of cigarettes, I would have finished Gone With the Wind, War and Peace, and everything Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon ever wrote. With comprehensive literary analyses.

I changed tours and my new show had a service truss. Translation: you climbed an 18-foot straight ladder about forty times a day when you were setting up. Believe me, your lungs felt every damn cigarette you’d ever thought about when you got to the top and collapsed on the platform. I was always afraid I’d get too light-headed and pass out while I was still on the ladder.

It was really getting old. I was only 29 for God’s sake.

When I was a little kid, my sister and I were crazy for Shaun Cassidy. We saved our allowances and bought his records. At the top of our birthday lists were Shaun Cassidy posters and T-shirts. We bought every copy of Tiger Beat that mentioned his name (which was all of them).

Shaun’s older brother David starred in The Partridge Family, but my sister and I weren’t taken with him the way we were with Shaun. Shaun was in The Hardy Boys and my sister and I fought for the seat closest to the television every week when it was on. She claimed more rights to the seat: I had the 45 of Hey Deanie but my sister had his whole album.


I had a t-shirt, but somehow she had scored the Shaun Cassidy satin jacket.

Also hers.

She never let me wear it.

Not even once.

So this tour with the service truss that was kicking my lungs’ asses on a daily basis was Aida (the Elton John musical, not the Verdi opera) and we were playing San Francisco. They often did opening night parties for us and while I generally hate parties, I loved not having to go find my own food in a new town the first night.

Our male lead was Patrick Cassidy, another Cassidy brother and an all-around good guy. One of my tasks was to put Patrick’s mic on him every night at the 15 minute call, and check it every intermission.

Standing around at the opening night party in San Francisco, one of the actors came up to me.

Him: Hey, do you have an extra cigarette for Patrick’s brother? You’re one of the only people Patrick knows who smokes.

My heart did a little flutter, and it wasn’t because of the cigarettes.

Me: Which brother? Shaun or David?

Him: Shaun.

Me: Um, let me check.

I pulled an American Spirit out of my pack, grateful that I was smoking something sort of normal now. Nobody ever wants your Lucky Strike or a Delicado.

Me: Can I give it to him myself?

He lead me through the crowd to a little cluster of people standing around Patrick which included a well- dressed, slightly older, slightly fuller Shaun Cassidy.

And so it was that I bummed a cigarette to my very first star crush.

Then called my sister to brag. Something along the lines of “Holy sh*t, Beth! I just bummed a cigarette to Shaun f-ing Cassidy!! Take that, satin jacket!”

I knew I had reached the pinnacle of my smoking career. Nothing else related to cigarettes would ever surpass this moment where I bonded with Shaun Cassidy for 1.4 seconds over an American Spirit Light with the filter cut in half. I was finally able to quit smoking.

The patch helped, but it was really Shaun Cassidy that did it for me.

He certainly does. He may also make you lose weight.
He certainly does. He may also make you lose weight.

Who was your first star crush?

I originally wrote pretty much this whole post in a comment on Darla’s blog She’s a Maineac; the day I decided to write it as an actual post Darla also wrote about Shaun Cassidy, so Darla, I think he’s going to do something magical for you too.


34 thoughts on “Do You Believe In Magic? or How I Finally Quit Smoking

  1. I…….he….um….holy crap on a stick! I’m babbling. Where do I start?

    First of all, I smoked for a brief time back in college, Marlboro Lights (blech) But thankfully, I never got addicted, I just smoked here and there when I drank, so kudos for you for kicking the habit and holy hell! Shaun Cassidy! Shaun helped you kick the habit. How many people can say that?
    He is magical, that man.

    I am in awe. What did he say to you? Did he sing Da Doo Ron Ron? Did you get him to sign your sister’s satin jacket? This post made my day.

  2. It’s impressive enough that you quit, and then, and then… THIS!!! It was a sign from the Tiger Beat gods, for sure.

    My first celebrity crush was Neil Patrick Harris, followed by Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I was a vegetarian my entire teen life because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was. And he never even asked to bum a Boca burger.

    1. Doogie!!! We want him to host the Tonys forever. (Side note: how many of our childhood star crushes turned out to be playing for the other team? Bummer!) Okay, I’m admitting my age, I had to google Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Definitely teen-idol worthy. Perhaps one day he will eat a piece of your chocolate chip bacon-topped pie.

  3. I, like Darla, only smoked in HS/College when I drank, but never got hooked, and when I decided to stop, I just stopped. No Shawn Cassidy involved. My first Tiger Beat crushes were Kirk Cameron (I know) and Johnny Depp. Still all about Mr. Depp, by the way. I would START smoking again, if Johnny wanted to bum a smoke!

    1. I started off only smoking when I drank. But then I was always drunk, with a cigarette in my hand. No judgment here on Kirk Cameron, and I am totally behind you on Johnny Depp. Holy cow, he’s hot. And weird, which makes him even hotter to me. He’s also from Owensboro KY, where my dad lives.

  4. I wish I had an epic story like this about quitting smoking! My quitting was not nearly as magical.

    My first major celeb crush was Taylor Hanson. After I realised it wasn’t a girl singing MmmBop I knew we were soul mates because we had the same blonde bob. I actually went to my first Hanson concert last year and fell in love with him all over again. No shame

    1. No shame, and no judgment. It’s so much better to see your idol years later and still get all worked up, rather than going OMG. What. Happened. To. You.

  5. Wow. My trick to quitting smoking was to substitute eating everything in sight. That’s worked great for almost 20 years, but I think the Shaun Cassidy method might have been better as I wouldn’t have developed this permanent spare tire.

  6. Love it! I was also a Hardy Boys – Shaun Cassidy fan. I had the album & posters & an 8 year old birthday party dedicated to him where we all danced to the album in my mom’s living room 🙂

  7. Rick Springfield. I finally saw him in concert last February and it was AMAZING! I touched him and everything.

  8. Mine was Leonardo DiCaprio. What can I say, Titanic came out in my freshman year.

    I, too, had a chance encounter, while working one of my least favorite recurring gigs, managing a loading dock for fashion week. I’m talking, 60ish trucks a day, two loading docks, dock priority kerfuffles, and random VIPs who want to shut down the dock and turn it into a private entrance every time they show up. Also: 16 hours a day outside, in either the worst part of winter or the humid wind-down days of summer.

    So one fine blizzardy February evening, I got the call over the radio to start prepping the loading dock for a VIP to exit. I sighed with exasperation, but didn’t really care, because by then it was nearly midnight, and trucks were few and far between; shutting the loading door would, at least, stop the wind for a second. I did what I had to do, and paced the dock with my ear to the walkie.

    And then, suddenly, there he was. Leonardo DiCaprio, walking across the dock towards me and then past me. Older and doughier, but still himself. I tried not to stare, but I had no peripheral vision because my face was wrapped in two scarves and topped with a fur-lined Fargo-esque hat complete with ear flaps that could double as horse blinders, so in order to see him, I had to basically turn my whole body towards him. Which I did.

    And he turned back as he walked down the ramp, and looked right at me! At the one visible part of me – my eyes! I had a moment where I regretted everything – the long underwear, the two pairs of pants, the three shirts plus flannel plus wool sweater plus vest plus puffy jacket; the scarves. Definitely the hat. But he could see my eyes, and he looked at my eyes. And I swear to god, it was the exact same eye-spression from that part of Titanic where he’s waiting at the bottom of the staircase for Rose and he turns around and kisses her hand while looking up at her. Sure, he was “looking up” at me because he was descending a ramp into a dumpster-infested hellhole, rather than bending down to kiss my hand; sure, he may have had no idea if I was a man or a woman (or a child – I’m really short), or underweight or overweight, or blonde or a redhead or what. But he looked into my eyes.

    And now, forever, I can pretend that my eyes are like Cinderella’s glass slipper to him. That he left that loading dock with just a hint of who that woman (person) was, and that maybe he will spend his whole life searching for the woman who matches those eyes.

    It helps to tell myself that.

  9. OMG! You lucky thing. I actually have an entire scrapbook filled with Shaun Cassidy pics torn from Tiger Beat issues. You’re so quick, I would’ve never though to suggest I give him the cigarette myself. Best line ever: Take that, satin jacket!! It’s inevitable I’ll blog about Shaun myself someday and I will be linking to this post 🙂

    1. And I never would have thought to make a scrapbook out of Tiger Beat pictures. That’s awesome! So, ah. . .you didn’t have the satin jacket, did you?

  10. Jimmy McNichol and Leif Garrett. Don’t bother googling them, or if you do stick to the pre-1980 versions that pop up 🙂 I remember sitting on the floor staring up at the wall, gazing lovingly on creased posters and pics pulled from Teen Beat/Tiger Beat. I am, however, willing to claim Shaun as my real first crush if the promise of magical weightloss is true!

    1. Oooh, I remember them! They were in the same Tiger Beats. Confession: I totally downloaded that single a couple years ago “Betty Ford for Christmas.” Kinda dug it 🙂

  11. My sisters and I had his cassettes, but my heart belonged to John Schnieder (I was a total Dukes of Hazard girl). I owned a satin jacket, but not with my crush’s face screened on. Feeling really deprived now. Loved the post!

  12. Funny 🙂

    My mom got me a Shaun Cassady cassette tape for Christmas once. It was the eighties, and she must have really been *trying* but it made me cry. Not with joy, which disappointment.

    I think my first star crush was River Phoenix.

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