As the rest of the world is getting more and more educated about the dangers of cigarette smoking, the underground world of cigar smoking is making a comeback. We are constantly being bombarded with horrible, targeted, public service advertisements on TV during the evening news that are literally unwatchable, yet people still can’t break that nasty smoking habit.
Growing up on Long Island, I was lucky to have a group of friends that were more interested in sports and girls than cigarette smoking. We may have developed a lot of unhealthy habits during those highly vulnerable years, but smoking wasn’t one of them. While bar hopping in our glory days, we had limited funds that were reserved for drinks and video games. Who had a buck (or more) to feed a cigarette habit?
Besides, it was a disgusting habit. We were trying to kiss girls, not repulse them. Of course, many girls back then (and even today) liked to smoke in bars. That’s why one of us always had a pack of cigarettes handy, just in case they asked. Hey, you never know…
Today, cigarette smokers are herded like cattle outdoors and treated with such disdain, you would think they were criminals. “Hey Mommy? Why are those people standing outside with no coats and their mouths on fire?” As much of humanity (at least here in this country) realizes inhaling smoke directly into your lungs for pleasure is probably not good for you, the lingering cigarette smokers are being ostracized.
And then there is the return of the cigar lounge.
Cigar smoking, an activity that was once reserved for your parents’ generation, seems to be making a comeback. While smoking is often prohibited in most public (and even private) spaces, indoor cigar lounges have become a civilized refuge for the cigar aficionado. More and more people are coming out of the closet and heading to a neighborhood lounge.
I admit, I love this new trend. There is a lost art in selecting and smoking a fine cigar that establishments like The Matador in Massapequa Park are reinventing. We are not talking about the five-for-a-dollar Phillie Blunts you used to get at the 7-11. The world of cigar smoking has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry.
The Matador, and other places like it, have recreated the man-cave experience with couches, comfy chairs and big screen TVs. More importantly, you can puff your rope peacefully and guilt-free within the confines of a no judgement zone. Gentlemen, this may replace a round of golf to separate yourself from your troubles for a few hours.
Although the ladies are always welcome, this is truly a male dominated sport at this time. Men of all sizes, shapes and status gather at The Matador on evenings and weekends with a common sense of purpose. They get lost in conversation, watch a ballgame and puff a fine cigar without anyone looking at them like they are assaulting another’s right to breathe.
Ah, the dreaded reek of cigar smoke. After spending an hour or two engulfed in the cloud, even modern air filtering technology cannot remove all the cigar smoke from your clothes. It’s one of those things that you don’t really notice until you leave the building. But I bet your wife will.
Is cigar smoking as filthy or unhealthy a habit as cigarette smoking? Most likely. Please understand that for most closet leaf lighters, the smoking lounge is a breath of fresh air. Once inside, you are surrounded by likeminded people who are all looking for the same thing—a relaxing place to hang out, have a peaceful conversation and smoke a cigar.
Don’t get me wrong, smoking cigars inside your home or in public places will never be tolerated and I am in no way advocating for that. Stogies are still relegated to golf courses, championship locker rooms, race tracks and summer weddings with an outdoor terrace. It’s not for everyone. But if it is for you, take my advice and bring your stick to a smoking lounge.
Just be reminded of what Rudyard Kipling wrote in The Betrothed back in 1885, when his beloved Maggie insisted he choose between her and his cigar. “A million surplus Maggie’s are willing to bear the yoke; A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar, is a smoke.”