Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the beginning...

Although it may seem corny, or perhaps lame, I feel it necessary to introduce myself. After all, this is my first submission and, in fact, my first attempt at a blog of any kind. I do comment on sports websites and will always lodge myself into the breach of the eternal Boston Red Sox-New York Yankee rivalry. But, for arguments sake, this is my first go-around.

The name is Bear, yes just like the animal, and no, not like the brand of paint. I am a college-educated male that comes by the way of Texas and who enjoys the finer things in life. Although other things (i.e. liquor, beer, wine, food, golf and poker) may seep in from time to time, this blog's primary focus will be about the wonderful and often misunderstood world of cigars.

As for the title of my blog: SNOB, it's simple; there is nothing wrong with knowing you're the best. I love, and feel that everyone should agree, quality over quantity in nearly every capacity. I don't buy the most expensive toilet paper, by any stretch, but I certainly stay away from single ply. I do humbly admit, at the birth of my introduction to cigars I was all over Black and Milds, Swisher Sweets and Titan Phillies. On seldom occasion, I revert back to my "childhood" to remember where "I came from" and for sentimental reasons. It was my brother, Shawn, who shared my first cigar with me on my 18th birthday, a white-tipped, filtered Swisher Sweet. Man, I was the coolest guy that night.

For the next eight years, I have smoked many, many cigars. Some were tremendous, each one being like one of the best moments in my life. And others, like sucking a bowling ball through a straw, getting smacked in the teeth with it and then licking an 80-year-old, unwashed ash tray. But, each time, whether alone or with awesome company, has been a treasured moment. Each of these moments I look back on as a collection of fond memories.

I love the finer things, I love a good cigar, and I really resent the label that it gives me. Yes, the title of this blog may turn some away, the content will more than likely be the killer, but I wish the offense of my indulgence did not exist. I'll pursue this avenue a bit more in the coming weeks and months, but for now let me share a story that I think, cigar smoker or not, will shock, at least, slightly unnerve most people.

One day this past year, a friend and I were in a restaurant in a community that still actually allows smoking inside. The name of the establishment is irrelevant, but the following course of events is not. After my friend and I finished our meal, we proceeded to the bar area, where smoking was permitted. I reached into my coat and pulled out two Drew Estate's Acid Blondie's. We cut, lit and began to enjoy the end to a good meal. After about 15 minutes, a manager came over and asked us to put out our cigars. Feeling that perhaps we misunderstood or were in the wrong location, I asked to be pointed in the direction of the permitted smoking area. He said were were in it, but if we wanted to continue to enjoy our cigars "we were welcome to do so outside," but if we wanted to remain inside, we needed to put them out. Well, my friend was finishing up a cocktail and we didn't want to leave at that moment, so we hesitantly agreed and ceased our puffing. My friend continued to enjoy his cocktail and since I wasn't smoking I decided to order some dessert. I ordered from our waitress and ten minutes passed and the manager returned to our table. He asked me very politely, I may add, if we could please refrain from smoking. My friend exclaimed that we hadn't smoked since he had left us, pointing to our cigars in the ashtray. "They're still smoking," he replied, "And I am continuing to get complaints from our other patrons." Smokers attacking cigar smokers? No way.

As many of you know, or should have been taught, you do not simply "stub out" a cigar. A number of reasons include two that have to do with consideration: First off, if a cigar is stubbed out, the inevitable stench that lingers is lengthy and extremely unpleasing to even the aficionado's nose as well to the company around him/her. It is simply easier to let it burn down with no long-term lingering effects. The second reason, if given a cigar, it is extremely rude to put it out once lit. If one is done enjoying (or not enjoying) they need to let it burn out as well. A "stub-out," especially one that is premature, signals to the giver that the cigar was not good or to the taste of the individual in a very abrupt and rude fashion. One friend, in particular, continues to do this in my house even though I remind him each time that it is considered rude and it really stinks up my house. He doesn't do it on purpose, or at least I am convinced he doesn't, but if you are one of these people...PLEASE STOP!

To return to the story, the manager asked us to "stub-out" the cigars. I refused, explaining the reason above in a calm, relaxed manner. My friend was starting to get visibly annoyed, and I could tell that neither one of us was going to be able to take much more of this. The manager then said, "Well, I will not be able to bring your dessert out until you decide to comply with my request." Let's get one thing straight, there was no requesting of any kind, this was a demand. Frankly, it was one I just did not understand. I looked all around as it was now apparent that we were causing a tiny scene. Well, Daddy likes an audience and my friend had downed the rest of his cocktail and was on his feet before I could get my response out. I retorted, "Sir, so let me make sure that I understand. You are not going to allow me to pay you for an item until I refrain from smoking in the clearly marked smoking section, in which we are not smoking anymore!?" He nodded. "Just out of curiosity, if I decided to light up a Camel, would you object?," I continued. "Well no..." he said, his voice fading. "That's ridiculous!" I exclaimed again. "So, are you saying that even though I have followed every rule that your establishment has required of me, I still am not able to enjoy a post-meal cigar? Who has a problem with it?" "I do!!!" a woman from behind us screamed. "I have a problem with you smoking your cigar in here where the rest of us are enjoying a cigarette!!" The woman was a mid-40's, cigarette in hand, leathery skin, bleached blond hair, with about a dozen other butts in the ashtray. My friend turned around and nearly threw up in his mouth from laughter. I began to laugh as well, and some surrounding tables joined in. Well, the sheer ironic stupidity was enough for me to walk out without my dessert and my friend "forgetting" to pay for his cocktail. A few weeks later, my friend said that someone he knew had gone into the restaurant and saw a huge sign hanging over the bar: NO CIGARS ALLOWED. My friend and I have not returned for obvious reasons as I am quite sure that he may be dodging an arrest warrant for aggravated laughter assault and cocktail robbery.

I have never been a fan of cigarettes, but I think that killed any desire for me to ever partake. I think it's bad enough that many of our options for smoking cigars have/are been taken away, but to not even be able to commune with other smokers? There is a line, and that lady crossed it. But never fear, she won't be alone. She soon will have emphysema to keep her company (-- that is if the rat poison inside her cigarette doesn't get her first).

Tonight, I am enjoying a recent favorite of mine, a Blue Label Robusto. It is a Honduran beauty of a cigar, with a trifecta of Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Dominican long-fillers secured by a zesty Corojo binder. It is a mighty complex cigar that is highlighted by a leathery and dense Habano wrapper. The smoke is plentiful and cool to the palate with a radiant bouquet of cedar and pepper. As you get towards the middle of the cigar, a surprise dousing of vanilla and oak hits you. The finish is a lingering, pleasant finale of pepper and leather. Knowing the complexity of the cigar and aura of sweet vanilla that comes with it, I decided to pair it with a night cap of a Vanilla Latte. The two went very nicely together, and of course the vanilla from the cigar was amplified by the accompanied drink.

I look forward to this being the first of many entries and I hope you all enjoy them. Always remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing you're the best.



1 comment:

  1. Bear,

    Congratulations on an excellent start to your blog. I look forward to seeing your dreams come to fruition almost as much as I await your next post.

    I too had a similar experience with a friend of mine at a local Kansas restaurant. They allowed smoking on the patio, but when we lit up our Partagas we were asked by the manager to leave.

    Another time on the golf course, my foursome was told to stop enjoying our Cohibas by the groundskeeper. Is nothing sacred? No cigars on the back 9? That is just downright un-American.

    I can understand prohibiting smoking of all kind in a closed area. It’s a free country and if its your establishment, you make the rules. But to selectively prohibit one smoking vice while allowing another? Preposterous. Especially when most cigar aficionados are connoisseurs, while most smokers are just addicts.

    Wait, I take back that last comment. I sound just as bad as the manager in your story. Even through my frustration I will not stoop to that level.

    Keep preaching Bear, and let the good times roll.

    Paul Hendrix, Esq.