Get Over Yourself
by Ari Silva
I remember quite fondly the first time I enjoyed offending someone. It was a balmy San Diego day in the spring, and I was eager to relax on a Saturday morning with a stogie and cup of coffee. I was outside on the patio of a cigar shop downtown. I took a seat in the corner, away from two ladies who were smoking cigarettes, and lit my cigar. The dirty glances were immediately casted, and the “coughing” ensued, the coughing that emphatically announces the distaste for cigars. I looked over at the two women and smiled. I love irony. They waved their hands to mimic the action of dispersing the smoke from their delicate breathing space, and gave me dirty looks. By no means do I ever intentionally blow smoke towards people, I don’t need attention. I politely smiled and stated, “Isn’t it wonderful to be able to smoke cigars in a cigar shop?” My sentiment was lost and unanswered as the two ladies left without saying goodbye. The friends I’ve lost.
From that day forward I became a staunch enthusiast for publically enjoying cigars. I am 100% unapologetic. Debate me. We can go live on YouTube. I don’t care. As smoking in general becomes more frowned upon in public, (I happen to agree with some of the arguments) cigar smokersalbeit arguably face more of an uphill battle than cigarette smokers. The reason? Cigars carry a more “repugnant” odor. They are V12’s as opposed to the 4cylinder cigarettes. A hookah pipe does more damage to your lungs than a cigar, but since the hookah pipes emits olfactory friendly odors, it is ostensibly more accepting; hence the vaping phenomenon. Cigars are like a boxer who punishes the body: they make an immediate impact. The smell carries a different odor, and has a way of striking chords in a way that cigarettes cannot. Personally, I love the smell of a cigar being lit. So do you. That’s why you’re reading this...
Now, being a young man in my early 40’s, I can look back and remember when cigarettes were a part of life. You could smoke almost anywhere. Some restaurants and bars allowed it, others did not. The business owner could decide whether or not he/she chose to allow it, and their decisions was controlled by basic economic gains. I understand the health concerns. Nicotine is not going to give you health benefits. We need to acknowledge that smoking is not goodfor you. I concur.
But neither is loud music, nor overexposure to the sun, alcohol (I wince at typing that), microwaves, not stretching properly before sparring in Brazilian JiuJitsu (I’m sore as a type), fast food, stress from working too hard, working out too hard in the gym without replenishing your muscles, etc. The list goes on. I’m not comparing the risks,just comparing our abilities to justify risk based on what we deem tolerable to what we want. Not everything is mutually exclusive. We all condone things that appeal to our intrinsic preferences. We are selfish by nature.
As I type this, I am eyeing my next cigar. My sister gave me a bag of stogies, and out of courtesy, I will smoke every damn one of them. But I am forced to leave the patio in my small community of apartments, and will have to walk on the sidewalk to smoke my cigar. This is obviously not preferential. I am a lazy cigar smoker, I’m even annoyed when I have to relight my cigar. I like to sit and puff, listen to low volume music, and sip on either tequila, whiskey, or scotch. As of last year, my apartment complex went to a “smoke free zone.” Needless to say, I was not a happy man. I can no longer put in my iPhone earbuds, pour a glass of Johnnie Walker Black, and light up a stogie on the comfort of my wicker furniture. I know, first world problems, so I do my best to still realize I can smoke my cigaralbeit in less than ideal circumstancesand make do with the cards I’ve been dealt. I consider myself a fairly gracious cigar smoker: I will proactively move to the other side of the street should I see a woman or kids walking towards me, (men, you have to man up), I am polite with my ashes, I never blow smoke in people’s faces, and I never, ever, apologize for enjoying my cigar. My rebellious side has a witty argument for any comment thrown at me, but I rarely encounter anyone who says anything directly.
The day is coming when we cigar smokers will be even further marginalized. I remember, before partying in Santa Monica fairly recently with a person (who could or could not be my sister), and sneaking a stogie at a famous hotel on the outside pool area. Santa Monica allows cigarettes, but alas: not the evil stogie. You’ve got to be joking. Can you think of anything more censorious than a group of people deciding, for me,what is better for meto smoke? I would like scientific data, clearly demonstrating the benefits of smoking cigarettes over cigars. I doubt anyone will ever email me this fascinating breakthrough. As if the breathing of cigarettes mitigates all other “foul” smelling odors, or as if it has been publically declared that cigars are more offensive than cigarettes. Oy. This is where the hypocrisy begins. Back to the hotelwhere we witnessed a gentleman, who could’ve been the stunt double for Truman Capote himselfunveil an impressive leather briefcase full of all tools required to enjoy the perfect cigar. He very slowly and methodically went about the incredible process of preparing his stogie. It was as if time stood still. As we all lit our cigars in a faux unison, there was a silent approval as our stogies were lifted to salute ourselves as fellow lovers of the leaf. The neighboring cigarette smokers noticed us, but were reluctant to voice opposition. I was proud.
So next time you’re out, and encounter cigarette smokers who make faces or wave cigar smoke away in distaste, just do this: make a face as you look at them like they are the type of people who continue to try to push open a door that says “pull.” Feel sorry for them. This person “hates” dairy, but will still eat a pizza full of cheese. Get over yourself.