Cigar Aficionado

Opening Day

The hand signals across the crowded dining room were unmistakable. Two fingers held up to my friends’ lips—the gesture that clearly asked, “Are we going to have a smoke?” As I stood up and began working my way across the Grill Room at my country club, several more guys asked if I was headed to have a cigar. By the time I reached the doors to the patio, I knew I wasn’t going to be alone.

It was the Opening Day dinner for the 2009 golf season. I didn’t count, but there must have 60 or 70 people who joined the evening’s festivities that included a rundown of the upcoming season’s events, a report on the club’s operations and plenty of just good old camaraderie with people who in many cases have known each other, and played golf together, for years.

In year’s past, before New York State passed its own draconian anti-smoking legislation, the cigars could have and would have been lighted right at the tables. But those days are long gone, not only in New York but across the nation. While there may be more than a little nostalgia for the Good Old Days, most people are resigned to the current rules and laws and are more likely to get charged up by finding ways around the law to enjoy their cigars.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful night last Friday. The sun had come out late in the day, and the air temperature was still quite warm. The cigar smokers gathered around a large table on an outdoor patio and by the time we all lit up, there were at least 10 people there. We compared smokes. There were lots of stories about local school and club sporting events since several dinner attendees were headed off the next morning to watch their sons or daughters play in soccer, baseball or lacrosse games, and were not going to be able to attend the opening day tournament. And there was some good-natured ribbing about the competition the next day.

Best of all, there was just an atmosphere of shared pleasures: a cigar, a good libation and the friendship of everyone around the table. It never gets old.

"Gordon,As much as you love golf, you well know that the term "Opening Day" truly applies only to baseball season. As you are a fan of a particular team and not of baseball in general, I ask you to honor the use of the term for what it was meant. Of course, one (and I would argue the only) advantage golf has over baseball's opening day is that you can smoke a cigar on a golf course.Hit 'em if ya got 'em.AB" —May 4, 2009 21:58 PM