Cigars and Ferretts

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Basically, a cigar is a good way of slowing the world down for a bit.
Now, normally I’m awash in input – writing, checking texts, hey a Twitter notification, Gini has a joke to tell me, new email! – but this summer, about every two weeks, I’ve poured myself a nice tall glass of good bourbon, set up my chair in the back yard, and lit up a cigar.
I leave my phone in my pocket.  There’s only the cigar, my drink, and my company.
There’s something delightfully contemplative about a cigar.  You’re not supposed to draw the smoke into your lungs – in fact, you’d choke on it.  No, you’re supposed to puff to fill your mouth, and let it linger there for a while.  It’s not an act I could imagine doing quickly, or casually.  To enjoy it, you have to move at the pace of rising smoke.
And you can’t just puff away like a madman.  It takes a while to cycle, maybe a minute or two between draws, so you’re made to be leisurely.  Everything else slows; conversation becomes delightfully paced as people draw thoughtfully on their cigar between thoughts.  Even arguments take place sluggishly.
The thing is, I still feel dreadfully ignorant when it comes to cigars.  I don’t even know the general classifications of cigars yet – if cigars were beer, I would not yet know the difference between an IPA and a stout.  And when I go to my local cigar stores, they ask me, “So what do you like?” and I fumble out my phone and show them the pictures of cigar bands from the four cigars I’ve enjoyed, and they go, “Oh, we don’t carry those.”
My education is very incomplete at this stage. And everyone seems to assume that I do know what I like, or even where to start, and it’s a bit vexing.
It’s also vexing to realize what a snob I am.  Were I a normal person, I might go, “Well, I liked this brand!” and then buy more of it and smoke the same thing.  But no.  I’m the sort of explorer who has to try everything, to see the finest and the worst any experience has to offer.  People ask me what my favorite bourbon is and I tell them “The one I haven’t had yet” – and that’s because for me, finding the shades of difference between a good Blanton’s and this Eagle Rare is the fun.
If I wasn’t so prone to wandering, I could be content.  But as it is, there’s thousands of cigars, and I can’t even group them, so when someone asks me “What flavor intensity do you like?” I just flail.
The little fuckers don’t even have the respect to look the same.  If all dark cigars smoked similarly, I’d be happy, but sometimes the cigar store rep points at a dusky cigar and says “That’s very intense” and points at another one the same shade and goes, “That’s much lighter.”
Ah, but there’s a ceremony I crave.  I like cutting the head.  I like toasting the edge.  I like realizing that I’m not particularly good at this ceremony, and when I go smoke with others, I’ll eventually see what I’m doing wrong. I like learning.  Cigars are a skill to be mastered, like writing.
The summer’s drawn to a close.  I’ll probably get to go out in the back yard once, maybe twice, with my daughters before it’s too cold to smoke any more.  And then what will I do?  I could go to a cigar bar, I guess, but part of the thrill is being anchored in a place I’m usually trotting past on the way to walk the dog or get some wood or park the car, and just taking it all in.  I puff until the stars come out.  I drink until I’m light-headed.  I smoke until I’m clear.
I couldn’t get that in a bar.
I couldn’t get stoked up on my life on someone else’s stool.
And so I’ll hope for friends, and bourbon, and a new wadded leaf of tobacco, and I’ll wait for spring.
I’ve never looked forward to summer, before.
So lovely to find new treasures as I get older.

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