Rough and tough, middle aged, rebel, man, pompous ass, wealthy, celebrity, connoisseur, rugged, rude, aristocrat – the list can go on an on for adjectives that a common person may have flash through their mind when they think about a cigar smoker. I have to admit, for most of my life I was in the same boat – Pops was a homicide detective and I remember he smoked cigars nearly every single day of his career – his comment was that during work ‘it covers up the smell of dead bodies’ while when he smoked them at home his answer was ‘to keep your mother away’ followed by a bright smile and a small chuckle. My neighbor was an iron worker and would smoke cigars nearly as often as my dad, usually in the garage when they were teaching me how to work on a car or leaning on the fence ‘catching the breeze’. My favorite memories were when I would go with my dad to the barber or the cigar shop – it would be filled with old, gray haired men cussing and joking around while smoking cigars and having a few beers. For an 8 year old boy out with his dad, this was just about as close to heaven as I could imagine.
The persona of cigar smokers I was raised with were that of middle aged to older men who were not your pampered, office type but rather more blue collar, off the cuff type of crowd. Not that this is bad, but my perception of the situation was much more narrow than the truth of the matter. As things have changed and I have had a chance to grow up a little, I realize that the views I had of “who is this cigar smoker” really took a dramatic change the more exposure I had to them.
The first person, aside from interactions directly with my father and his friends, who I met that smoked cigars was when I was in high school, a young lady I was dating had a friend that lived in the penthouse of the Purina building in downtown St. Louis. We were all going out to a concert, the friend’s parents were driving us and before we left the girls father picked a few cigars out of his humidor and placed them in a leather carrying pouch and laid it next to the car keys on the counter and continued about his business. Now I was more worried about things other than cigars at this point in time, but I knew that this well dressed and obviously wealthy businessman was not cut from the same cloth of what I had previously known to be a cigar smoker to be.
Years go by and minor details such as that never really seem to strike a cord to where you ponder deeper about the situation, but given my current situation of running this site and trying to find more ‘rants’, it dawned upon me about the huge diversity of those who are cigar smokers, as well as (what I determine) common factors that we all possess. Now of course, these are generalizations that can be picked apart but there will be certain characteristics that all of us cigar smokers possess.
For some of the more veteran readers to this site, you have heard about my overwhelming respect for the cigar community, the giving and helping nature of a bunch of people who became acquaintances or even close friends simply over a bunch of plant leaves. Never before in my life have I seen such a large group of people from all across the world come together in the way this community does.
The things I have been able to notice with the larger variety of cigar smokers, that my original thoughts of a smoker were not too far off. Most are men, although women (thankfully) are coming into the foreground and being accepted for taking part and prospering within the community and the business. Most men and women are usually middle-aged, some reaching towards the senior years – but with that being said (and being part of it) I have seen a forward movement from the newer blood of 18 to 30 year old range and perhaps a transition from the ‘old school’ crowd to the younger ‘new skool’ will be in our future but that is another rant all in its own!
That is pretty much where my prior thoughts were squashed though! Cigar smokers come in a huge variety, from blue collar to white collar, young to old, man or woman, military and civilian, straight or gay, any race, any religion, any creed yet we all have a tie, the knowledge and understanding that some times in life you just need a chance to sit back and relax with a great cigar. I have never seen a group who has the intelligence the cigar community contains yet never discusses. Most individuals I have spoken with have a degree or are very successful in their career and a growing percentage even own their own business. We know a little, learn a lot, bounce ideas and questions off those who know more so that we can inform those who know less – all without even making a specific plan of it.
I’m sure through the years we have all found a mentor(s) or someone who taught us right from wrong or pointed us in the right direction to find out answers – and shortly following the time we ‘earned our wings’ and left the nest, did you not try to inform a buddy or a co-worker about the wonderful information you just found? I think that is one of the best parts of being a part of the cigar community – the personal desire or need to share good experiences with others or to save them the pain of a bad experience.
It goes beyond the cigar though, onto a much more personal level. Our brothers and sisters of the leaf trust us enough to seek out our guidance or just a shoulder to lean on no matter what the topic may be. From the worst to the best there seems to be this bond where its not just someone reading a post on a forum or a blog, but rather the person being genuinely interested in what the other has to say. Perhaps we are just using the cigar as a buffer to meet these great people, just to have a conversation or an experience that we otherwise would not be able to encounter.
Either way, if it is the desire for a great cigar or a common camaraderie that brings us all together – why mess with a good thing?
(images courtesy Lifemagazine.com, annewhistonspirn.com/ and flickr.com)