Cigars and Me

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.

Image result for excalibur cameroon

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.





You and I were chatting earlier this week about music, memory, and nostalgia.  It got me thinking quite a bit about how for me nostalgia never seems to be a common memory.  The moment always shoots me back to some forgotten place in my past.  Its also almost always a triggered sort of thing; I’ll smell something, or I’ll hear something that just instantly floods my mind with memories of years long past.

Most recently I was down at the waterfront with my girlfriend, enjoying the brisk whether and the nice walk.  There was one stretch of the waterfront that suddenly smelled like a wooded creek, and I remember being out camping with the family at the Fort McCoy camp grounds, on their modest river beach.

For me most of my memories its smell related for some reason.  My nose doesn’t work correctly.  I’ve never had it looked at by a doctor, but I’m reasonably sure I should be able to breath through it normally.  Either way, I feel like when I’m able to clearly smell something it’ll stick with me better.

Remember when we were young and out camping with the family.  Dad would always tell us the fire wasn’t big enough and he’d go get his Boyscout Water.  Remember that?  It always makes me laugh.  Whenever I smell a nice wood fire,  it springs up.

Another is the way grandmas house smells during the winter.  The rain, the forest, and the mildew makes me think of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I was reading that book while we still lived there during that summer.  Do you even remember living there?  At the time it felt like forever, but now it was a blip on the radar.

Baking pumpkin pie reminds me of Lego’s.  We used to always go out to Indiana for thanksgiving, and grandma almost always had new Lego sets for me to play with.  So thanksgiving day was always waiting around for dinner while I built my Lego dinosaurs.

Hot asphalt reminds me of of the new asphalt they put down at Lemonweir right before they put the new play equipment up.  I remember when it was brand new that anticipation building up for lunch.  I’d go eat my lunch but I’d end up throwing half of it away just so I could run outside and play on it.  That bright burning Wisconsin sun, and that stiff, acrid asphalt smell as I sprinted out there.

Gasoline reminds me of the Shell station in Tomah.  We’d wait in the car while mom was fueling up, and we’d beg and plead for her to get us scratchy-tickets.  And mom would let us keep the money we won.  $3 was so much money back then.

Freshly opened model kits remind me of the first Gundam modelling kit I got at the mall.  That little kiosk used to be the only place to buy little Pokemon toys and Gundam modelling kits.  The smell of the plastic; the scale of the models.  I still have those Pokemon toys somewhere in my closet.

Fresh book smell reminds me of the little catalogs we’d get in school.  You had to take them home and then your parents sent you back home with some money and an order.  Like three weeks later a box would show up and everyone got the books they ordered.  It was always so exciting.  Personally, I had most of the Animorphs.

I’m sure there are so many more, but the coolest part about nostalgia is that I can’t just make it happen.  Travelling to those points in my past is always sort of exciting to remember.  This post didn’t really have a point, but I’d love to hear some of yours.