Think back with me for a minute to high school. Yes, most of what you learned is irrelevant and yes, many of the people you attended with have scattered to the winds. But I want to talk in particular about the changing of the guards that happened so seamlessly as to be invisible.
I can’t speak for growing up in SoCal, or Arizona, or Florida, or some similar place with two seasons (nice and not-as-nice). I grew up in Seattle, where the seasons were Nice, Gray, Cold and Wet, in that order. And when I was in high school you could also tell what season it was by which jock was peacocking his way around the campus.
In the fall, football players dominated the landscape- lording their early-pubescence over the rest of us. In winter it was the wrestler, complete with spit cup and sunken cheeks. And in the spring, the baseball players took great pride in wearing the same dirty, sweat-caked ball cap to every class. We actually see much the same thing today in our national sporting scene- sports wax and wane in an elegant fashion, with Olympic Fever and World Cup to breakup the routine. Yes, you can watch the NFL Network and they’ll talk about drafts and training camp injuries, but baseball hasn’t quite yielded it’s grip on the country. The big three do a beautiful job of sharing the limelight, overlapping slightly, but coexisting in a way that is not often seen in other arenas.
When it’s hot or when it’s cold, whether you’re inside or outside, you’re going to want a different cigar. I think that Rocky Patel has done the best in this particular area, by releasing four distinctly different cigars- a summer, fall, winter and spring blend. The winter blend is dark and rich, while the summer is a light, commitment-free smoke. Each cigar suits its’ namesake perfectly. But we’re not going to talk about cigars today- we’re going to talk about suiting up and getting your game face on.
The Cigar Guys are spoiled, and we know it. Surrounded by cigar lounges and beautiful weather, we need no excuse to fire up a stogie and relax in the setting of our choice. But many of you are not as fortunate. Inhospitable climates and draconian laws prevent your from partaking in our shared diversion.
I once saw an episode of the TV show “Man Caves” with Tony Siragusa that featured a cigar smoker in… Minnesota or Nebraska or Wisconsin. Some state in the middle, where it got very cold and snowy in the winter. He loved cigars, and would stand outside with his friends, sitting on plastic buckets outside of his shed smoking cigars. Wearing a hat, down jacket, boots and thick gloves, he didn’t look like the picture of relaxation. Siragusa led a construction team that transformed the couple’s mud room (again, thank God I don’t need one of these!) into a cigar lounge with ventilation, heat and air conditioning.
As we examine this situation, this was a man forced to smoke in one location for half the year, and even if he wanted to go somewhere else, his options ended at his friend’s houses. No lounge to be had.
Tony and I once spent New Year’s in Las Vegas. It was dry, of course, and the days were crisp. But once the sun went down on the high desert, the weather took a turn. Surrounded by buildings, you lose track of Mother Nature’s abilities. As you’d walk down the strip, you were cold to begin with, but then that cruel wind would come slicing through your coat, cutting you to the bone and stripping away any warmth you’d managed to accumulate. And it’s a West-to-East wind in that town, too. Which means that whenever you ventured into an intersection, the towering buildings stretching in either direction turned the wind into a wind-tunnel. Tony and I would walk for 30-seconds, puffing away at our cigars, then change hands and shove the now-frozen claw deep into our pockets to warm up a little, before repeating the exercise. It was miserable.
So, my hat is off to you, Midwest, Northwest and Northeast cigar smokers. You suffer indignities to indulge that I simply cannot imagine. So whenever you feel like complaining because the temperature has dropped below 70, just remember the real gamers out there- the guys who suit up no matter what the elements throw at them just to indulge in the great American past time of enjoying a cigar.
You’re a better man than I am. And I’m ok with that.