Today is the first day of October and for all you fans of Halloween it is the bewitching month! I truly enjoy fall and all the pumpkin spice and apple smells that are either delightfully abundant or the bain of ones’ existence. Fall is my time. Maybe it’s because I was born in October? There’s just something that begs for home, harvest, hanging out and enjoying great cigars around a backyard fire pit. As for the Halloween thing; I hang with my neighbors to give out candy to Trick or Treaters and do some decorating in my house but I’m not really into the scary stuff. However, I have decided to start the Halloween month out right and share a cigar “horror” story with you. I hope you find this as disturbing yet hysterical as I and my BOTL/SOTL did when it occurred.
One of my cigar bucket list items was a trip to Tampa, FL. You can’t be a cigar smoker and not know that Tampa is the cigar capital of the US. I wanted to go and explore a bit and of course check out what treasures I could find in the many, many cigar bars, lounges and stores. When my cigar besties Mike and Sharon (great cigar couple – everybody should have a set), talked about heading to Tampa to hang out with some family who lived there, it was an opportunity for me to get in on the action and get to Tampa. We did just that over the Labor Day weekend and I have to say, Tampa did not disappoint! I came back with some great cigars, met some fantastic people and got some much needed rest and relaxation. Where’s the horror story you say?
So, some cigar smokers walk into a dive bar. Now it is important to know that this dive bar is special. It is home to many Vietnam Veterans and many members of the local chapter of the “Nam Vet” motorcycle club hang out there. It is a homey dive bar. You walk in and even though you get the feeling you wouldn’t want to start any trouble you also know you are welcome and that they are not going to let anybody mess with you either. Mike’s brother Ryan and his wife Melissa are very active in Nam Vets so this is a fave hang-out for them. Anytime I can hang with fellow Vets I’m always a happy camper. So, we all cram into seats at a small table and we are having a great time. Laughing, joking and meeting new people. As a cigar smoker you know that special times call for special cigars.
I carefully selected one of my prized Quesada Tres Reynas Limited Edition White Label cigars. This cigar was manufactured at the My Father factory in Nicaragua and was the creation of Janny Garcia, Patricia Quesada and Raquel Quesada – the 3 Queens of Quesada! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Quesada and have to say what a fantastic lady. She and her sisters did a superb job on this White Label version of the 3 Reynas.
With its Connecticut Broad Leaf wrapper and Nicaraguan Binder and Filler, this is a rich and luxurious smoke. I find all cigars relaxing (isn’t that part of why we smoke them?) but this cigar in particular slows me down and makes me savour and soak in the abundance of flavour.
But alas, I digress. So, here I am sitting in this fantastic dive bar where everybody knows everybody and you quickly beome friends. Sharon is sitting to my right and Mike is sitting across from me. I’m seated near the door and with my back to the wall I have a great viewpoint of what’s going on, including who comes in and who goes out. I’m not quite half-way through my Quesada treasure when this older “gentleman” walks through the door. In true Veteran fashion he yells, “hello mother f’ers!” To which a few of the regulars yell back the same term of endearment. Alright bro, you got this gals attention. He stops and talks to a few people including my friends brother and they proceed to introduce him to us. He fixates on me, I think mostly because I’m sitting on the end of the table most convenient to his proximity. I politely listen to him as he talks and we share a few military quips that he aptly replies to in his now obvious gruff and loud way. I find him amusing and since he is a brother in arms I am most willing to listen.
But then it happens. I’m sitting with my half smoked 3 Reynas in my left hand when I see him zone in on it. He doesn’t ask what I’m smoking but rather he reaches out and takes the cigar out of my fingers. I’m still not alarmed as I innocently and quickly decide that he just wants to look at the label to see what it is. I have never been more wrong in my life! As if I am seeing things in slow motion he begins to move my cigar up to his lips. It is like a bad accident that you are so terrified to look at but can’t stop looking at either! He takes a few puffs from my smoke and hands it back to me. I say nothing as I’m in shock. What makes it even more horrifying is that Mike is sitting across from me with a wide eyed deer in the headlights look while to my right I can all but feel Sharon throwing up in her mouth. You have to understand, Sharon can’t even handle sharing a cigar with her own husband Mike. This had to be her worst nightmare.
My new “friend” continues to talk to me while I hold my tainted cigar in my hand. I don’t hear a word he is saying because all I can think is “Dang it! I LOVE this cigar!! I don’t want to put it down! What the “bleep” am I going to do?!! I’m on vacation right? You live dangerously while on vacation, right? You do things you wouldn’t normally do, right? Somehow I convince myself of all these things and yes, I do it, I put the cigar back in my mouth and take a few puffs. Sharon is now beside herself as I can hear her groan ever so softly at the sight of me. I can’t help it. I’m in too deep now. I turn around and say to her “Geez Sharon, the flavours have really changed in this cigar”. We both burst out laughing like people nervously do when they’re at a funeral and don’t know what else to say. We are beside ourselves and yet I continue to smoke my cigar. This my friends has become a Cigar Etiquette Nightmare!
And so one thinks it has ended, but NO……here comes my new “friend” back to visit again. I notice he has a nice looking churchill lit but I don’t recognise the label. Forever being a glutton for punishment, I can hear myself say to him “What are you smoking?” Why? Was I so far gone from the first horrific incident that I no longer cared at all? Now, in even slower motion, he removes his cigar from his mouth and hands it to me with the head of the cigar facing me. I notice his glistening saliva on the cap and once again I am forced into the previous web of irrational lies I had somehow convinced myself were okay. As I slowly reach for the cigar I can hear Sharon let out a groan next to me and I can tell she wants to lurch forward and swat the cigar out of my hand. I take the cigar and take a puff. Only one, how gouache can that be I decide. There is nothing left to hide between this man and myself. Perhaps a new reality series – Smoking Cigars Naked?
Once again I am sitting in shock and feel as if I need a shower and some listerene after a date that has gone horribly wrong. I tell Sharon and Mike that when I get back to the hotel I am going to wash my own mouth out with soap for doing what I did. In the meantime I manage to finish my 3 Reynas and now know that I will never be able to see that cigar without thinking about this horrifying night.
As we finally get ready to leave, I am met once again with my new “friend”. He hands me a cigar and gives me a hug. I quickly look to make sure it is an unopened cigar and let out a sigh of relief when I see it still in it’s cellophane. We whisk off to the hotel where I am still laughing with that hysterical laugh one has when they are not sure whether to laugh or cry. Sharon is still gagging at the thought of it all and Mike is just putting one liners out there in coup de gras fashion.
Our trip ends a few days later and we head home to Jersey without further incident. However, I wind up with a wicked cold and in bed for a couple of days. I have time to reflect on our trip and once again am drawn back to this wickedly funny yet horrible story. The moral of the story? I have no f’kn clue other than I got a cold and free cigar out of it.
Until next time, Stay Smokey and Be Blessed, I know I am.
aka – Queen Of Cigars
Please feel free to share your cigar etiquette horror stories in the comments section throughout the month of October!