Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Re-defining SNOB

I have been approached a few times about the name of this blog. The name has received praise and criticism from several arenas. I believe my position on the name is well supported in my very first post, but a recent moment gave me pause to reconsider.

Just for a moment though.

Recently, I have taken a part-time job as a side gig at my local cigar club. I have had the best time so far and am continuing to learn so much. I must give a public thank you to Perry Tong and his wife, Pat, for giving me the opportunity to spend just a little more time around one of my greatest passions.

One of the things that I love about this club and cigars in general, is that it brings together a most eclectic group of individuals. In just one night last week, I saw two police officers, one janitor, a dozen realtors, three musicians, one politician, and a group of paint salesmen all light up a stogie in the same place.

I was able to talk and recommend cigars to all types and loved every minute of it! Well, at least that was the case until Chuck walked in (names have been changed to protect the guilty). As soon as I shook Chuck’s hand I knew this was going to be painful. He said he had never been inside a cigar shop before and he asked for a recommendation and I immediately went to some of my faves. I asked what he liked (Full flavored? Mild? Size? etc). He told me, “I want a CEEEGARRRRR.” Really? Here I thought he came in to smoke chili peppers. I asked what he meant, and he indicated something with a lot of strength and flavor. Easy. I immediately drifted to the La Flor Dominicana Air Bender and had him take a gander.

If you are a faithful reader, you remember some of the items on my list of what not to do in the world of smoking cigars. Well, this guy takes the stick and takes a big ol’ whiff of the cellophane wrapper. “Not much to it,” he proclaims. “Yep, today’s plastic just doesn’t have the oomph that it did five years ago.”

Just like I suspect most witty remarks do, this one sailed right over Chuck’s head.

I opened the cellophane up so that he could actually smell the cigar itself. He was still not impressed.

“Do you have anything better?” he asked. “Bear, do you understand what I’m asking? I want a CEEEEGGGARRRR! Something strong, that will kick me in the teeth and let me know I am smoking a CEEEGGGARRRR!”

Wow, this guy was annoying and once more, I am fairly certain he was on medication. In order to protect the innocent, I will not be using the names of anymore cigar labels for the rest of this story. I lead Chuck over to a VERY powerful cigar, excellent flavor and sustaining strength from pre-light to nub. I warned him that the first quarter of this particular stick could be a real doozie, but I advised him to hang in there and he’d thank me later. He nodded and took a whiff of it (this time outside of the cellophane) and declares, “I’ll take it!”

Ok, mission accomplished. Or so I thought.

I added the cigar to his tab, and he saw me write down a price: $7.59. “That’s it?” he commented more than asked. “Well, ok, I guess I can’t complain too much about the price.” He walked away. A few minutes later, about three-four puffs into the cigar, he comes back asking about our ports. I went over the port selection, at least the ones we sold by the glass. I was starting to like Chuck a little more. After all, I tend to like most people and we were talking about port, the perfect accompaniment to a good stogie, so very little could be better. After sampling a glass I poured him, he took a glass and returned to his seat.

A little while later he returns again, stogie in hand and smoked about a quarter way down, and sighs right before a lecture ensues.

“Bear, I don’t want you to be offended, but this cigar is terrible. I mean, it’s really strong and I just don’t know if I can finish it. I even dipped it in my port (another faux paux that I just love) and nothing is helping. In fact, now it’s burning hotter and has a hot sugar taste to it. When I said I wanted a cigar, I wanted something that was going to be worth my time. Maybe you just don’t understand what I was asking for.”

I apologized and said he was right. What I had understood was that he wanted a strong and flavorful cigar. I warned him about the first quarter. I even told him the reason the cigar got worse after dipping it was because he had done just that- dipped it in a sweet, dessert wine. I offered to see if maybe we could get him something else for free, but I needed to talk to my manager.

He grabbed my arm, “Bear, Bear, Bear, no, no, no.” I told him I insisted and I turned to look for the manager. When I looked back, Chuck had disappeared into the walk-in humidor.

He emerged a few minutes later with a cigar that to be honest, for the price, I am not at all impressed with. The price on this particular cigar was $28.50. He went to my co-worker and asked to put it on the ticket.

I didn’t see Chuck for about an hour after that. He comes back to cash out his tab with the cigar about three-quarters finished. “Now Bear, this is what I was looking for; this is a CEEEGGGARRR.” I told him I was glad he found something that he liked.

I know all my readers have heard me say that taste is subjective, and it is. And when I was just about to write this particular case as such, he opened his mouth and hit me with, “I mean come on Bear, you gave me a seven buck cigar. What were you thinking? That was supposed to impress me? I ask for a cigar and you hand me an overpriced Black & Mild? Clearly, you have a lot to learn my friend, about judging one’s tastes and cigars themselves.”

I have waited until this point in the story to tell you that Chuck is at least a couple of years younger than I. For those who don’t know, I am 26. I wrote up the ticket and I suppose to show that there were no hard feelings, he threw a couple of bigger bills into the tip jar which, to this point, was his most redeeming quality. I was tempted to hand his tip back to him. However, since I do split the tips, I didn’t want my co-worker to miss out.

What’s the point of telling you about Chuck? Well, the moral of this story is that while taste may be subjective, price has nothing to do with quality of a cigar and nor should it. I have smoked good and cheap alongside poor and pricey. What makes me a SNOB is that I am only satisfied by the best. What makes Chuck a TOOL is that he needs to feel that his wallet weighs a little lighter and his ego is stroked a bit more in order to feel superior.

Like I have always said Guys and Gals, there is nothing wrong with KNOWING you are the best.




  1. Dear Chuck,
    Don't you know how far you are from being inducted into the Perfect Club? You are a lucky son of a gun that Bear did not lay your innards all over the floor with his razor sharp wit...although it probably would have went over your head anyway. Next time, take what he gives you and know that you are in the presence of greatness.

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