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Hand Rolled


A quick glance at the cover of the August edition of ‘Cigar Aficionado’ can tell you a lot about those who have a penchant for the panatella and read this magazine. Jeff Bridges is shown, smoke in hand, next to the tease ” ‘The Dude’ On Acting, Music And The Zen Of Cigars.” Other featured articles concern “Online Poker’s Future” and “Golfing Northern Ireland.” Besides cigar manufacturers and companies pedaling air purifiers, advertisers include the makers of fine Swiss watches, luxury automobiles and top-shelf spirits. It’s interesting to note that, given the relatively higher percentage of cigarette smokers, there isn’t a publication called ‘Cigarette Aficionado.’ It isn’t enough to merely smoke cigars; one has to live the life.  The demographic seems to be ex frat boys who idolize Tony Soprano. They’ve made it or are in the process of doing so, but aren’t quite sure what to do with it yet.

Somebody slipped me a pair of Cuban cigars at a recent cookout in Brooklyn. I’m not sure where the legality of such a transaction resides, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere in between copping a kilo of heroin and removing the tag from a mattress. I fired one of them up on the spot and, having had a few drinks, enjoyed walking around the affair like some kind of Nicaraguan dictator. There’s a definite ‘asshole factor’ associated with smoking a cigar but this can be part of their appeal. In this instance I had the excuse that somebody had given them to me. Also, I lean toward the quiet side at social gatherings and have both observed and lamented the fact that, within reason, it’s often the assholes who draw the most attention. Smoking a cigar is a means for a quieter guy to make this impression without having to go to the trouble of raising the volume, cutting people off, or interjecting himself in to conversations.

I do have a few personal caveats for cigar smoking. I think one needs to be of a certain size – not necessarily a giant, but not so small that he looks like he’s making up for something. Also it helps to be somewhat older; to have at least a few grey hairs and a line or two on your face. You can be twenty years old and still look like an asshole smoking a cigar .. just not the right kind of asshole.

Even if you do meet the necessary criteria, there are other considerations to be made before jumping in feet-first. As much as I enjoyed puffing away at the bar-b-cue, the next day my mouth tasted like someone had set up an Havana sweatshop in there then burned the place down. You definitely want access to outdoor spaces if you’re going to indulge the habit – unless you plan on frequenting those cigar bars where everybody’s firing up over a glass of fine single malt. (And really, what’s the point of being an asshole when there’s more of the same in every corner?) Also, try to model yourself after the right kind of cigar smoker. Think more Groucho Marx and Gomez Adams as opposed to, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi. And unless you really need some extra oomph in the asshole factor, avoid any subscriptions to Cigar Aficionado magazine. The occasional issue will do just fine.

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