Everyday life is so full of doublespeak that I’m always surprised to encounter straightforward speech. George Orwell shined a light on deceptive bureaucratic wording in the novel 1984, in which the Ministry of Truth is actually busy falsifying history and the Ministry of Love is where you go to get tortured. Today, in real life, the concept is more pervasive. For instance, we have such institutions as the “employment bureaus,” which are really unemployment facilities designed for those who have been laid off only to be told they were “downsized,” or some such euphemism. And the examples go on and on.
So I admit I was taken aback last week when I visited the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas and read this forthright heading in its guide to dining: “Nonsmoking Policy.”
The wording was so honest that it was kind of endearing. Even while I knew I was just about to be told where I couldn’t smoke, I was struck by the author’s honesty in simply stating that fact. It’s been my experience that institutions will call out their “smoking policies” or “smoking regulations,” even while they are really informing me is that what I can do is the very opposite of smoking. Here was a refreshing bit of truth in advertising. Atlantis had decided not to sugarcoat the bad news.
My immediate assumption was that my enjoyment of cigars was about to be relegated to the resort’s casino floor. Perhaps “enjoyment” is too strong a word here, because it is difficult to take much joy in such a meditative and sensual pursuit as cigar smoking when one is confined to an atmosphere punctuated by blinking lights, clanging bells and the aroma of menthol cigarettes and decorative deodorants meant to hang on a car’s rearview mirror.
Except that when I read on it turned out that the news wasn’t so terrible. I could smoke cigarettes at all the outdoor restaurants and bars, as well as in indoor bars and lounges. Cigars were a bit more restricted. I could smoke them at indoor and outdoor bars, but not in restaurants.
And I took that as a victory. I don’t much care to smoke while I’m eating anyway, and I don't exactly feature someone blowing cigarette exhaust at me while I'm inside eating at a place like Nobu (which is one of a number of prime eating establishments at Atlantis).
So I marched right over to the Havana Humidor, the on-site cigar store, and stocked up. Not only does it have a large selection of Cubans, but it also rolls its own and sells such cigars as Padróns that are legal in the U.S.
After exercising my right to stroll the grounds with my Cohiba and watch as my daughter shot off the many water slides there, I had another with a glass of whiskey at a bar. When I got back to my room I felt an encore was in order. I thought about consulting the manual about the legality of smoking in the suite, but then I realized this is the Bahamas and that’s what al fresco decks are for. I stepped outside and enjoyed the nonsmoking policy.