By PATRICK GAVIN | 8/16/10 10:59 AM EDT
Christopher Hitchens to Charlie Rose: I'd do it again
Christopher Hitchens has discussed his cancer diagnosis across several platforms at this point, but Charlie Rose was the first to ask whether the writer had regrets about the less than healthy lifestyle he's sustained over the past several decades.
Appearing on Rose's show Friday night, Hitchens applied the famous quote — “If I had known I would have lived this long, I'd have taken much better care of myself” — to himself. But when Rose asked Hitchens if he would have continued smoking and drinking with the knowledge that he'd eventually be diagnosed with cancer, Hitchens wasn't full of remorse.
“All the time, I've felt that life is a wager and that I probably was getting more out of leading a bohemian existence as a writer than I would have if I didn't,” said Hitchens. “Writing is what's important to me, and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me. So I was knowingly taking a risk.”
Still, Hitchens said, “I wouldn't recommend it to others.”
“You would do it again?” asked Rose.
“Yeah, I think I would” said Hitchens. “I've had to reflect on this, of course, a lot recently and trying to imagine my life different and not ending up mortally sick, but it's impossible for me to imagine having my life without going to those parties, without having those late nights, without that second bottle. … I wouldn't cut any of that out, no.”
But Hitchens admits that, much in the same way that he gave his own parents grief for their habits, his children hound him to quit.
“I used to hate even the smell of alcohol,” said Hitchens. “Goes to show that there's some inheritable faction to it. My mother used to smoke like a fiend. I used to beg her to stop. Thought I would never start. And my children do this to me. … They've really said they wished I wouldn't do it.”
About his future, Hitchens said it looks like he'll be “leaving the party a bit earlier than I'd like,” and that what irks him is “not only that, but the party will go on without me.”
“But why should I be enraged at that?” he asked. “That would be spiteful.”