Sunday, July 21, 2019

Cigars and Pipes

Cigars and Pipes

Recently, because I enjoy a cigar now and then (well, a few times a week I’d say), I became interested in pipes. To be honest, up until I met a friend of mine, we’ll call him Spencer (because his name is Spencer. HA!) a few years ago who is extremely knowledgeable in pipes, I thought they were a thing of the past.

Truth be told, the only thing I had ever seen when it came to pipes is Popeye, a few old Normal Rockwell paintings and my uncle Dave. I remember as a kid always seeing my uncle Dave with a pipe and it smelled so good. He was always smoking something like cherry or something fruity smelling. I was a kid though, so I never really put much thought into it. Other than my uncle, no one I knew or had seen ever smoked a pipe. So, like I said, I had thought it had disappeared.

Well, flash forward a few decades and here I am as a 48 year old man now involved in cigars and pipes. More involved than I ever thought I would be. Now as of this writing, I have a few pipes, 8 to be exact (I assure you I am in the market for a few more. I don’t need 150 in a collection, but perhaps a few good dozen would satisfy
my wants and needs). One is a corn cob (and yes, those still exist and lots of people smoke them) and one is called “Dracula”.  I have over 20 jars of pipe tobacco from Crème Brulee to rum and I have three desktop humidors filled to the top with cigars (so around 80-100).

Just like any other hobby, sport or collection (yes, I know, cigars and pipes are not sports…just stay with me here for a second) it grows into something bigger and ends up costing more than you probably would imagine. Take a musician for example. A musician doesn’t just purchase a guitar and go…no no, they also have to purchase the guitar, a strap, picks, amplifier, cables, pedals, case, strings, stand, and on and on. What starts out as a $300 purchase quickly becomes a $3000 habit. Did I say habit? I meant hobby. Yeah, hobby.

Well when someone gets into cigars and pipes, the simple $8 cigar or $50 pipe turns into much more; humidors, tobacco, different cigars, pipe tampers, pipe cleaners, humidifying gels, different pipes, cigar cutters, special lighters, pipe racks, special ashtrays, tobacco storage, and on and on. $500-$1000 later and you finally feel like you can be somewhat comfortable in the “realm of the dark leaf”…for now. J

My kids asked me a few weeks ago why I’m into cigars and pipes so much. Good question. Motives to get involved in anything for people are different for each person. Some people get into sports for the love of competition and physical aspects. They get into music for the way each note speaks to them and makes them feel. They get into hunting for the thrill of the chase and the success of bringing down that trophy buck. I suspect many people get into cigars and pipes for a variety of reasons. Here are my thoughts...

Now, my reasons are nothing profound, nothing earth shattering and nothing that will or has changed the world. This is just my little world, my little “slice of heaven” as they say. First and foremost I would have to say that I am always intrigued by how things start, how things are made and the traditions behind them. I’ve always been enamored by how craft beers are brewed, how whiskey is made, how grapes turn into wine and so on. The “how it’s made” or “how it came to be” is one of the things that intrigued me with cigars and pipes.

Cigars and Pipes, to me, have always been a symbol of sophistication, gentlemanly gatherings, good conversation, great smells, history, stature, confidence, rituals, tradition and relaxation. Many fine people throughout our history have enjoyed fine cigars and pipes, so I always knew I’d be in good company.

There’s a peacefulness and relaxation that comes with enjoying a cigar or pipe from time to time. The way you prep, the items you gather, the way you light them, the way you take in the smells and on and on. It forces you to slow down and focus on just the task at hand.  …It’s completely different than simply lighting up a cigarette.

Cigars and Pipes are not for everyone…and honestly, I’m ok with that. It’s a special club to be a part of. It’s the brotherhood of the dark leaf. I recommend if you ever want to check out a cigar or pipe, partner with someone who knows what they are doing. Don’t let some dufus give you some garbage from a gas station and tell you it’s a top notch cigar (gas station cigars have come a long way and have their place, but come on…). Do some research on the Internet and YouTube…there are some great things out there. Light up and enjoy!

…And the answer is yes, yes I am. I’m assuming someone is asking “Is he smoking a pipe or cigar while writing this?” I currently have a nice Isla Del Sol Robusto cigar in my mouth. It’s a pleasant infused cigar with a hint of coffee and sweetness. It’s one of my favorites.

NOTE: The uncle I spoke about earlier, Uncle Dave, gave me one of his old pipe tools after we had a conversation about pipes. He purchased it back in the 1950’s and passed it down to me. A simple gesture on his part, but a meaningful moment for me. It’s a treasure I will hold on to for the rest of my life especially since he recently passed away.

Want to know my favorite cigars, pipes or tobacco? Just ask.