I think the detractors of the cigar often confuse it with other modes of tobacco – cigarettes and chewing tobacco. If you were raised by wolves or you play baseball, both pedigrees equally off-putting, you put in for chaw. And cigarettes are a nasty habit only acceptable in three settings: prison, the battlefield and the divorce settlement (which is a bit of both). Not one of these “conditions” rises to the celebratory level of the cigar. There is no “Victory Cigarette” nor do we pass out “chew” on the birth of a baby; but a cigar – a cigar is more than a smoke, it’s a King’s feast.
From the commencement celebration to the wedding reception, from the golf course to the boardroom, a cigar is the choice award for a merit won. We celebrate the newborn, the newly married and the recently retired with a smoke that is an event in itself.
A young man gets wheels and goes mobile, he starts with a Swisher Sweet that is little more than a tobacco candy-cane but gradually, his tastes mature and he realizes a galaxy of taste from which to indulge. As manner and taste are refined, he becomes a man and puts away childish things. It is then that he has arrived and with a knowing smile, takes a draw from his Safari Cigar .500 Nitro and silently consents to the advanced wisdom of the good Prince: “There are five things, above all else, that make life worth living: a good relationship with God, a good woman, good health, good friends, and a good cigar.”
So, what makes for a memorable smoke? – The company you keep, the setting in which you keep it and the stick that’s in your hand. Remember, a cigar is an event and under the right conditions, the occasion becomes the fifth essence that brings unity out of diversity. In similar fashion to the Cherokee wise men that passed a pipe, men partaking of fine tobacco settle transactions, wage or remit war, even arrange marriages; but the vast majority of the time, the cigar is indulged to unwind, relax, bond, appreciate beauty, indulge the senses, or to just share a moment.
I’ve had four experiences that stand out beyond the rest. The best one by far was on a beach in Puerto Vallarta in the company of my new bride. To the left of me were a couple of French lovelies that I dutifully ignored because I was on my honeymoon and they obviously could not afford the whole bikini. My wife was to my right, having her hair braided a la Bo Derek by some local – it was interesting for about 5 minutes. So I took in the horizon and a Cohiba Esplendido, pondering my luck to have her on my arm and our future together. It was a fine smoke.
The next was in our nation’s capital, from a terrace in Georgetown overlooking the Potomac in the company of men of whom I’m not worthy. It was an Opus X that night and with open ears, I indulged in both the tremendous gift that was Arturo Fuente’s BBMF and the fascinating lesson that I received from the heroic company.