In one of his essays, “Il Sigaro e’ un Giocattolo?” (Is the Cigar a Toy?), Nino Inzerillo analyzes the cigar smoker career. I like how he associates it to the process of falling in love, as an initial, spontaneous genuine passion followed by love consolidation.
We all know there are many different reasons we start smoking cigars, some might even be connected to the will to socially appear different, by cloning some successful fellow cigar lovers. This is probably less important than it seems. What is certain is that the lower average age of today’s fine cigar smokers, together with the exponential growth of the internet usage, have contributed to a vast spreading of the interest and that the information available on the internet clearly exceeds the human processing capabilities. Eliminating noise is up to each individual, we all need to judge by ourselves what the most valuable information is. The starting cigar smoker makes her choices, finds her initial sources of information, then analyzes and compares them to find her own position on facts, which change based on further experiences and findings.
At any point in time through the discovery process, the smoker might find herself recognized by peers; there is no linear sequence of the phases. There may be overlap, regression or termination. Doubts are completely ok. Like in any relationship, we may look at the mirror and ask ourselves how genuine what we feel is, so, transposed, how spontaneously we love cigars vs. how much we had convinced ourselves that we desired them. As long as there is an intense feeling, there is passion. Passion has a life and can have an end like any other human feeling. Sometimes a smoker just can no longer answer the question “why do I smoke?”, or can continue for addiction, or can stop for multiple reasons.
Passion requires a certain intensity in the exchange with fellow lovers. When the feelings arise, we are anxious to understand what all this will mean to us. It’s not so much trial and error but a new insight that is changing us.
As mentioned above, the novice gathers facts with the aim to gain sufficient insight and own judgement and trust to build her cigar cultural foundation.
Nino uses the paradox “dispassionately passionate”: dispassionately is referred to whom is not influenced by personal benefits, passionate to whom feels with strong intensity. Different values, principles and traditions are sometimes easy to read between the lines for some, they may less evident for others. It is not easy to make abstraction of our own culture when we publish information for a large audience, the internet is global and the risk is to come over as ethnocentric. There are clearly differences in the personal preferences of North American, Cuban, Spanish, English, Italian people, just to name a few. It is important to keep all of this in mind.
There are also obsessions linked to the lighting, the cutting, the storing, the tasting, the rituals, the etiquette and what not. In most cases, they are temporary, as they are more frequent in the initial phases of the passion. Just like when we learn how to drive a car, we consciously check all mirrors all times, but once we have been driving for a while, all this becomes unconscious and is no longer obsessive. It is not unimportant to cut the cigar properly but, after years, you no longer argue about what type of cut or cutter works best.
Growing into the passion brings knowledge that allows to trust or distrust what we read and bring our own opinion in the social group we are part of. Building our own preferences is part of the process and this means starting to gain our own identity, strengthened by a common lexicon shared with the other members of the social group.
While initially the relationship with lounge or internet fellow cigar lovers is “one-down” (one is inferior to the peers), at this growing stage it becomes “peer to peer”. It is important to note that this phase does not grant any expert status, but the recognition of a smoker status, meaning no more ill famed “newbie” stamp. This status offers the benefit of keeping away the non solicited advice or the arrogance of self-proclaimed “experts”.
The habit takes over when some intentional gestures become routine. We are less stressed and no longer obsessed.
At a certain stage, normally more advanced, there is a rather common trend to feel the need to collect. This is not part of the “falling in love” process. A syndrome leads the smoker to stock quantities that exceed by far her needs. Per Nino, this behavior typically contributes to the research of a complex object such as the premium cigar. However, there are different ways to consider an object for a collector: projection, fantasy, investment.
For some collectors the object is a fetish, psychologically speaking, so the means to reach an objective. They seem to need some concrete presence of objects to recall a memory.
Other collectors use objects as security blanket to keep hold of their relationship with the past and project into the future.
The identification in their objects is another possibility. The collector might feel like the objects have their own life and feelings. I wish Nino could publish his books in English because his elaborations are fascinating, but unfortunately I cannot translate his entire book here.
Beyond the analytical and the anthropological aspects, there are the functional and the dysfunctional.
Dysfunctional can be the setting of a budget which is not in line with our income, or the exceeding of one in any case, or buying impulsively and showing off.
Buying select quantities to allow aging and tasting experiments is certainly functional and a very acclaimed stage in the premium cigar smoker career.
This is the end of this article but we will follow up with more interesting content on the fine cigar smoker sociology. Stay tuned and tell us what you think so far.
Reference: “Sigari? Si, grazie!” Nino Inzerillo
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