Posted by: pendrops | July 7, 2008

that smells good

That smells good, I thought to myself every time I walked past the man smoking a cigar every Monday, Wednesday and Friday outside the office building where I worked over ten years ago.  He would smoke at lunchtime in the shade of the rain shelter and I looked forward to the sweet smokiness wafting from the corner where he stood deep in thought and gazing at passing cars on Jefferson street.

I’ve always liked the smell of cigars. Just last week, I roller-bladed past a man who was strolling along the trail at a nearby park. He had a tall walking stick in his right hand, a half-finished cigar almost hidden in his left hand.

“That smells good,” I said as I rolled past him.

He laughed. “Wife makes me take it out of the house.”

I nodded and waved at him, hoping that I could double back in time to pass him on my return trek down the path.

It’s funny. For as much as I love the smell of cigars it has never occurred to me to try one. To exhale my own fragrant wisps into the air for some passerby to enjoy.  And I started thinking, “Why don’t I try a cigar?”

I pondered my flimsy, false answers to this question. Answers like, girls don’t do that sort of thing and I could never do that. But I still hadn’t answered the bigger questions: “Why avoid cigars like they’re the plague? Why avoid so many things that seem risky or foreign?”

Risky. That was the word. I had hit upon it. My answer. I could easily state the merits of cigar smoking, predominantly the aromatic glow of tobacco and ash. But after that I would immediately go to fear.

“What if I become addicted?”

“What if I get cancer?”

“What if I inhale?”

“You’re not going to become addicted,” Jason said as we sat on a park bench a few nights ago. “It’s not possible.”

“Well, what about…” I started to ask.

“And you’re not going to get cancer. You inhale more cancerous toxins standing on a street corner for five minutes than you do from smoking a thousand cigars.”

“But what if I…”

“If you inhale, you’ll cough. And then you won’t do it again.”

It’s not like I’ve been thinking incessantly about cigar smoking for the sum of my natural life. It’s just that so many times it’s fear – and only fear – that keeps me from enjoying the little exhilarations, the unfamiliarities, the sweet aromas that make life slightly more delightful. And I have been thinking about that a lot lately. About how fear has made me a late-bloomer and a misser-outer for too long. Yes, there is a time for caution, for care, for saying no. But isn’t there also a time for delight, for airy-ness, for throwing off so much fretting?

Isn’t there a time for cigars?

“That smells good,” I said to Jason as I blew a plume of smoke over our heads. It came from my Oliva Serie O Petit Perfecto. And it was perfecto – the flickering stars, the feathery clouds, the occasional puffs. Suddenly that dangerous, horrible thing I’d feared (and loved) became the modest backdrop to a moment that might not have otherwise been.

Jason and I stayed at the park almost two hours – long past dark – sharing and hearing, sitting still and learning the katydids’ rhythm as we exhaled mellow smoke. And it was good. Very good. Not even a bit dangerous.



  1. Just wait until you pair a fine cigar with an equally fine wine or scotch or brandy or …

    that there is a touch of heaven.

  2. Welcome to club my friend…welcome to the club!

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