Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Cigar of the Year, Jan/Feb 2005
What propels human beings to smoke tobacco? What perpetuates the so-called filthy habit many of us richly enjoy? I'm convinced cigar smoking will continue to exist for centuries to come. As long as our society is rabidly anti-tobacco, cigars will symbolize the antithesis of the herd mentality. Men who smoke tobacco are not and cannot be sheep. To simply light up a cigar is counterculture. There are many things we cannot change about our lives. Tobacco is a choice: the burning within our reach, the choice of what we consider a fine cigar. In terms of health, we choose the pleasure and intense enjoyment of a moment over potential risk. In a word, lighting a cigar is flaunting danger and pooh-poohing the naysayers. Simple as it is to light up a great cigar, the symbolism is gigantic. Personally, these are all peripheral issues. Ultimately, cigars will be around for a long time because they represent the best of humanity. Fine cigars have both objective and subjective traits that will always endear them to those who appreciate such things. In a word, there will always be a demand for quality and a good smoke.
Editor's note: Amen.
I reside in Lexington, Kentucky. As I'm sure you are well aware, this city has recently joined the ever-increasing number of cities and states that have banned smoking indoors. But I'm not writing to bitch about that. I am writing this because as a cigar smoker, I resent being lumped by an increasingly ignorant public into the same category as cigarette smokers. The foul, offensive odor that permeates the smoking area outside the entrance doors of my college can scarcely compare to the rich aroma or velvety smoke of a finely made cigar. The people who suck nervously on rolled-up paper filled with a variety of chemically altered and poisonous substances can hardly claim any association with those of us who select a cigar made from hand-rolled tobacco leaves. I guess what I truly dislike is the underlying implication that I am an addict. I am an adult. I smoke cigars because I have yet to find anything so relaxing and enjoyable. I smoke because I want to, not because I need to satisfy a desire and am addicted to nicotine. I'm done with my rant. Thanks for your patience.
Editor's note: We couldn't have said it better. Since the inception of Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1992, we have tried to separate the world of cigars from cigarettes. Cigars are a passion. They are a lifestyle choice. They have nothing to do with the mass-produced cigarette. All we can do, and all you can do, is continue to trumpet that message far and wide.
Our young friend Patrick dropped by one morning. I served him his usual cup of black coffee and, after the customary pleasantries about health, weather, work and whatnot, he said, "I've decided to return to smoking cigars."
"Patrick," we asked, "what brought this about, when did you make this decision?" He obviously wanted to tell us. This is his story.
He said he'd always enjoyed a good cigar. This July, Patrick's brother-in-law, Joe, decided, at the age of 55, to get married for the first time. This brought Dave, Patrick's brother-in-law from New Jersey, to Napa for the wedding. Dave came with gifts, among which were several boxes of Romeo y Julietas. After the ceremony and banquet were over, the men of the family sat in the evening air by the Napa River and enjoyed a quiet smoke together.
We said this sounded like a very relaxing way to end an enjoyable day.
Then he said some of the teachers in his union smoked when they got together in Detroit, where they took their training classes. There were also a few men on the construction sites who would light up a cigar occasionally during the lunch break. "Besides," he said, "I find the company of like-minded individuals most enjoyable."
He has decided, for now, to smoke once each week. It's an activity he looks forward to continuing. As he was speaking, a little ditty came dancing through my mind. I could almost envision the frolicking cigars. This is it:
"Once a Week"
I'm only wanted once each week
It's not that hard to take.
His brother-in-law introduced us
I wasn't even on the make.
There have been others in his life
Willingly he will tell.
But for now,
I'm the one who rings his bell.
Filled with desire
We're going steady.
He lights my fire
Yes, he's always ready.
Could Shakespeare have put it better?
Take me, Romeo y Julieta.
Does he worship me from afar?
His occasional cigar.
Catherine E. Schoen