I’ve been asked many times over the years, by non-smokers, to explain the allure of cigars. To them it’s a nasty, smelly practice akin to cigarette smoking. My mother, were she alive today, would frown upon my indulgence in the leaf, certainly prohibiting me from sharing a smoke with my dad within the confines of their home. And I would refrain―who am I to argue with my mother? Over the years my white kitchen cabinets and window blinds throughout my house have taken on a decidedly yellow appearance that some would find distasteful. To me it adds character to my humble abode.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to explain to the satisfaction of one and all, the pleasure we cigar lovers take in lighting up, and that’s okay. It keeps us, we band of brothers, in pretty elite company. But for the uninitiated I will attempt, not for the sake of justification but merely for the pleasure of writing about it, to elucidate.
It’s all about ritual: walking to the humidor, a turn of the brass tasseled key, a lifting of the lacquered lid that bears a facsimile of a golden tobacco leaf, a quick inhalation and feigning indecision over which cigar to choose (I’ve made my choice long before opening the humidor). A quick snip of the head and a lingering inhalation of the wrapper causing a slight salivation, like the aroma of the Christmas ham from the other room; finally, the strike of the cedar match, the touch of flame to foot, the first few puffs, the blowing on the ember to watch it glow cherry red. Ah, sweet ritual.
Who could argue with Denny Crane and Alan Shore who, at the end of every episode of Boston Legal, shared a bonding moment―the day’s victories, their dreams and disappointments, mad cow, at times debating topical issues our society faces, even arguing over presidential candidates―all over a cigar and a glass of scotch?
Men are by nature competitive. But with a lit cigar we forgo our one-upmanship, free to be simply who we are, no pretenses. Our masks come off. In a world seemingly running amok―suicide bombings overseas, terrorist attacks, global warming, to drill or not to drill, the rising cost of living, the debacle on Wall Street, unaffordable health care, job insecurity, our indecision over which candidate for whom to vote―we find comfort, if only for an hour or two, in the soothing company of smoldering, smoking tobacco, handmade with care by someone we’ll never meet in some exotic place to which we’ll never venture. Fragrant Honduran filler wrapped by a maduro Connecticut broadleaf grown from Sumatra seed in Ecuador: poetry for the palate.
I sit this morning, sipping a cup of bourbon flavored coffee and drawing on a Punch Gran Cru Prince Consorts double maduro. This has become my own Sunday morning ritual, whether writing an op-ed piece for an online publication, a piece of flash fiction, a sports article, or working on a novel. My Sunday morning cigars have become my muse without whom I would sit, staring blankly at the blank page on my monitor, intimidated by the idea of arranging words into semblance of an idea.
Do you get it? If not, that’s okay.
Excuse me while I go pour myself another cup of coffee.