One summer day, I was hanging out with my buddy Austin. It was a pleasant, warm day. I told Austin as we were sitting behind his house and I mentioned that I wanted to smoke a cigar. No real reason why, but I was curious about them. I was also a growned up, damnit! I head spent most of my teen and adult years avoiding vices; during my formative years I was explicitly told that imbibing things that wasn’t food would outright kill me or give me every possible STD.
So I wanted to smoke a cigar. Austin and I walked down to Paul’s Cigars and we picked up some cigars that were light and easy to smoke. They were Excalibur Cameroons by Hoyo de Monterrey.
I was a natural at smoking according to Austin. I didn’t cough, and I didn’t mistakenly inhale the smoke into my lungs.
The cigar at first was pleasantly bitter. The tobacco was strong and coats your mouth. But as I continued, I started to notice that it tasted sweet on my lips, and earthy in my mouth. I was fascinated that I was getting this much out of lighting a stick of leaves on fire. I have always loved the smell of pipe smoke and cigars, and we grew up with relatives that smoked cigarettes. It was comforting somehow, and made me feel like it was summer with Lynn and Tim.
It’s one of those experiences that I can’t possibly expect people to get, but I figure it’s how you like beer and I don’t. Just one of those things that connects with you.
There is something ritualistic to me about smoking cigars. It’s become a past time in our group now to smoke after Rogue Trader or Dungeons and Dragons. Most weekends we usually smoke at least one. For me, there is something the feels satisfying about cutting the stick, igniting matches, and puffing the cigar to life. Watching the tendrils of smoke curl and unravel in the air. The heat on your lips, the strangely flavorful smoke coating your mouth, and the exhale.
I’ve been doing it long enough now that cigar smoking is able to smoke feelings of nostalgia out of me. My friends and I used to to smoke in the parents garage. Long summer days, smoking into the cool evening. Talking about Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Warhammer. Watching the sky dim and the sky set. Usually now I only smoke socially, but back then when I had more disposable income and a place to smoke, I smoked by myself. Frequently now when there is a family get together, I still go smoke by myself.
It’s meditative in a way that I never expected. I mentioned before that, to me, it’s become a ritual. I stare into the middle distance, and let my extremities fall to the sides of my consciousness. It might sound weird, and when I describe that way it may even come across like psychedelic, but my thinking becomes clearer and I become more relaxed.
I’m sure it seems weird to many who see me come join a hangout, and turn right around and go outside to smoke. I don’t expect anyone to come with me; often times I love the quiet. Over the years I’ve been turning into a hard introvert—with crazy extrovert benders every once in a while—and the act of smoking lets me still recharge while spending time with people. Often times in gatherings I end up looking for a quiet corner to poke around in my notebooks or my phone. Smoking helps me overcome that urge to be alone.
Kind of a shame that I don’t have one right now. I seriously talked myself into one.