lot of things have improved for cigar smokers in the past decade-better
quality smokes, better availability. But one aspect has changed for the
worse and it's had a profound effect on my behavior.
Back in the boom years, I wouldn't walk around the corner without a pocket humidor in case the opportunity for a smoke arose. When I was expecting to meet people, I'd carry a lot more than that in case some poor, unfortunate souls were without smoke.
But since the proliferation of smoking ordinances I've backed off on packing heaters when I leave the office. What would be the point? The occasion to smoke hardly arises now as the number of cigar bars and restaurants has plummeted and you can't even stroll your smoke through the park. Used to be that several pubs and one steakhouse within walking distance were safe havens. Now I have to get on a subway for a whiskey and a smoke.
One of the downsides of not carrying is that every once in a while the opportunity to smoke rears its lovely head and I'm left empty handed. That happened when I was at an event for Canadian Club in New York's Explorers Club. Normally, I would have thought of it as the perfect clubby, old boy's venue for a smoke, but alas you can't indulge there anymore. Except that it turned out the party was held in a room with an outdoor deck overlooking the city on a summer's evening. Perfect! But I wasn't packing. Hell! I had to stand by and wistfully watch cigarette smokers puffing away.
Yesterday, I was at a luncheon for the Art of Shaving at Masa in the Time-Warner Center. Once again, in the old days I would have thought: "Shaving-men-cigars." But this day, it didn't even occur to me. And as it happened I was seated with someone who expressed an interest in cigars when he heard what I did. He didn't smoke-except cigarettes-and was wondering what entry-level smokes he might try.
I talked him through outstanding mild cigar brands and discussed shade wrappers as a stepping off point. But nagging at me were shades of the old day. If I were loaded up with cigars, I might have been the hero, reaching into my breast pocket, pulling out an Avo or something and saying, "Try this on for starters." And he might have walked his newfound friend down to the Carnegie Club and gotten his smoke on right away.
Instead I missed my chance to be the magnanimous cigar knight and all I could offer was: "There's a Davidoff store on the ground floor here and they'll sell you one."
Close, but no free cigar.
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