Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Tyson vs. King, Jan/Feb 04
(continued from page 1)
Summer did not officially start in the New York metro area until July, as it rained during most of May and June. July 4th weekend was a scorcher, and just the type of weather that everyone had been impatiently waiting for. I had the fortunate opportunity to sit in a park in Queens on July 4th, in the hazy, hot and humid weather smoking a Padrón Churchill. I was sitting in a park, and celebrating the sun. That night I watched fireworks at my grandmother's house in Nassau County, with a Maria Mancini Robusta Larga, and was proud to be an American. I was happy to be able to enjoy myself and my freedom, what with all of the geopolitical turmoil so widespread these days. That Saturday night, however, I met with opposition.
I had read that Nassau County had repealed its smoking ban in restaurants. Eager to relax with a fine smoke inside, I went to a lounge with my girlfriend. I politely asked the maître d' if I could smoke and he said that it was fine, but I had to sit at the far end of the bar. I had smoked there before on a big couch, but we sauntered over to a bar stool, and ordered drinks while I lit up my Maria Mancini Magic Mountain. Not even five minutes into it, the manager came over and asked me to put out my cigar because a dining patron had complained. It was after 10 p.m. The manager abruptly walked away, and I followed his orders. The maître d' came over and apologized and offered to buy the next round, and promised that I could relight up after the last diners had left. This softened the blow, but I did not come there to drink, I came to smoke. I paid the bar tab ($14 for two drinks) and left. My girlfriend and I drove back to Queens, where we found a restaurant with an outside patio. I smoked there but was afraid that I would be asked to stop, because there was an awning over part of the patio.
I was not annoyed about the incident in Nassau until Sunday. I was smoking a Fuente 8-5-8 outside, and started thinking. July 4th is a celebration of freedom. Independence Day is commemorating our rights as citizens. It is ironic, albeit sad, to me that my rights were violated. I have been enjoying fine cigars for over seven years, and from Niagara Falls to the Hamptons, to all five boroughs of New York City, to Albany, I have enjoyed my hobby. New York is a gorgeous state, and the people of New York are progressive. I am appalled that, suddenly, it seems as if New York is regressive. While it is true that Nassau County found its smoking ban to be unconstitutional, New York instituted a statewide ban in late July.
While it is a fact that metro New York has suffered from the deleterious events of 9/11, it should not mean that all citizens should have more constraints on them. I will, with much chagrin, say good-bye to the days when I was asked "smoking or nonsmoking" upon entering a restaurant. I will say good-bye, with much disenchantment, to enjoying one of my passions with my friends or family or alone. I will say good-bye, with much bewilderment, to some of my rights and freedoms. To me, that is a real shame, and everyone should be aware of this, if only to ponder or challenge it. I still have the right to voice my opinion and question authority; as a human being, as a free thinker, as a cigar smoker, as a New Yorker, as a U.S. citizen.
Commack, New York