Written by Gary J. Arzt

Sunday, 01 March 2009

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Kiki walked me over to one of the boxes on the shelves (a box in which the cigars were cellophaned), and illustrated to me the habit, he had observed, of people 'fondling' several cigars in a box - naked cigars; no cellophane. Now, he suggested, who knows what germs, bacteria, disease they have...and then we stick the cigar in our mouths. I noted that some old timers still like to lick the length of the cigar!

It was and is a very interesting point, although I have smoked some 150,000+ cigars and have never - to my knowledge - suffered any illness that was identified as coming from someone else's germs on my cigar.

I was discussing this with Manolo Quesada, at lunch in Santiago and he raised the point about smokers who tend to soak the end of their cigar with their saliva, and then ask to borrow your cutter. "No way," said Manolo.

Only drinking Petrus; only dinning at Le Cirque; only smoking one brand of cigar...not my idea of good living! If you smoke a couple of times a week, or even one (1) a day, smoking one brand, one size might suffice. If you are a frequent smoker - I smoke 7-8 a day; you need to have a handful of brands you enjoy in a few sizes. Otherwise, you'll be bored stiff. Variety is the spice of life; especially when it comes to cigars.

More thoughts about contemporary tobacconists. I mentioned the lounges last month, which hark back to an earlier time. Lately, I have been thinking about the variety of ambiances.

Some tobacconists are like a gentleman's club, quiet...hushed conversation, gents reading newspapers. Calm conversation that could run the gamut from sports to poker, business to politics, theater to cinema to art, travel to fine dining. You name it.

Then there are the places with the boisterous ambiance of a fraternity house! Hmmm "boisterous ambiance..." me thinks that is something of an oxymoron. But, I am sure you get my meaning. We've all experienced places like that. What I found was no matter how often I was there; over whatever period of time - and some might think it a lifetime; eventually, I need a respite.

Whichever atmosphere suits you, that is where you'll be most comfortable over the long run. That's not to say you can't have more than one 'regular' haunt, but, your enjoyment of each visit; in fact, your appreciation of your cigar will be influenced by your comfort with what's going on around you. At least mine is.

With a little help from my friends, Lon Schwartz, in whose extraordinary collection of 19th Century Cuban cigar box art I found the boxes with Masonic symbols, and Rich Perelman, of CigarCyclopedia, who I spoke to after my February column was published, I got more information on the subject.


0 # Masonic Symbols in Cigar Art Eddie Garcia 2009-03-01 08:03
It is very interesting to get some history in all your writings. The Masonic topic, as it relates to cigars and the art on their boxes is of particular interest to me. I understand that sources on this subject are hard to come by, but I will try to gather some more information and forward it to you.

Always your friend,
Eddie Garcia

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