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The Cigar Community, And The Characters Who Make It Great

Posted by on Dec 3, 2013

communityIn my short time on this Earth, I have been part of many clubs, groups and communities. I have been on numerous swim teams, spent many years in a USA judo club, was part of a very close group of editors for my school newspaper, and at work, I am a founding member of what became known company wide as The Gentleman’s Club. Each of these communities had their own dynamic. Everyone was different, and everyone had their role. I was always beaming with pride when I announced that I was a member of one of these communities. Of all of those communities, none has brought me more joy, more pride, or provided me more opportunities to meet and become friends with a better group of people than the cigar community.

I smoked my first cigar when I was nineteen. Well, I guess you could call it a cigar. It was a Garcia Vega that I picked up from Wawa that I smoked in my friend’s backyard, accompanied by about seventeen Miller Lites when his parents were down the shore. I loved how it felt in my hand. I loved how it I thought it made me appear. Looking back, I probably looked like a total ass, but that didn’t matter. I loved everything about it. Well, almost everything. It tasted like shit.

Ashtray mouth aside, I kept buying and smoking those Garcia Vega’s from Wawa. Sometimes, when I had a few extra bucks to throw around I would pick up a Black & Mild or two. My new $10.00 a week hobby was all I needed. I was happy, and nothing could change that. Or at least that’s what I thought. One day while driving around aimlessly smoking one of my “cigars”, I saw while stopped at a red light a sign that read “PREMIUM CIGARS”. I stared at the sign thinking, “What the fuck is a premium cigar?” because I knew there was nothing in the world of cylindrically rolled tobacco that was more “premium” than my Garcia Vega’s. When I stepped over the threshold of the since closed Monster Cigar Co. in Bensalem, PA, I had no idea I was stepping over the threshold to my new life. My cigar life.

I stood in the walk-in humidor for a full minute without moving. This prompted the proprietor to come in and ask if I was okay, and did I need any help. I didn’t want to seem lame, or sound too much like a noob so I told him I was fine and that I was just thinking. (Jeez, that sounds so dumb now). I then snapped out of my trance and just started grabbing sticks. Take this time to actually picture this nineteen year old kid who clearly has no clue about cigars just grabbing handfuls. I had never smoked a real premium cigar before and here I am grabbing all kinds of sticks just to look like I was a tobacco veteran. That day I’m pretty sure I picked up some Arturo Fuente Hemmingway Short Story, a couple Padron 1964’s and a handful of overruns.  The Padron’s I just couldn’t appreciate at the time. The overruns were good at the time because I didn’t know any better, but the Short Stories? The first Short Story was so damn good that I knew halfway through smoking it what premium cigar meant, and once I saved up enough money to support this wonderfully pricey hobby I never looked back.

Fast forward a few years, I am in my early twenties, and smoking whatever I can get my hands on, and reading all about tobacco. At this point I still hadn’t fully thrown myself into the cigar community. To be honest, I was intimidated. I would go into places like Holt’s where I would be surrounded by grown men in suits, and weathered-looking men in work boots who had been smoking for years, and here was this kid who thought he knew something. I honestly felt like they were all staring at me. I would turn down every offer by the humidor staff to help me. I just wanted to grab my cigars and get the hell out of there. But then something happened. I started following cigar people on Twitter. I began posting pictures of what I was smoking and that attracted cigar smokers to me, and soon I had a two and then three hundred followers, most of whom were cigar people. It was the Twitter Crew that delivered the final blow that knocked me full force into the cigar world.

By this time, I had already been following G for a couple years. However, up until this point we had only ever talked about our crappy hockey teams (Go Flyers!), and boobs. I really didn’t even know he was a cigar guy at the time because he wasn’t posting too many pictures of them. I began noticing he would go back and forth tweeting with the same guys night after night, and they all really seemed to know their cigars. So, one night I wedged myself into their conversation, and I was welcomed with opened arms. These guys would recommend cigars for me to try as a novice smoker, and educate me on tobacco and the different brands. All of that was fantastic, and really appreciated, but what really struck me was the first time someone told me to direct message them my address so they could send me cigars. I did, and the next week I received my first “cigar bomb”. A total stranger, whom I met online, sent me premium cigars at no cost with absolutely zero expectation of receiving anything in return. This was done out of pure generosity, and for the love of the leaf. I did of course learn the etiquette of the bomb and sent a return package.

What I learned about cigars in the beginning on Twitter from guys like G, Irv and Frankie (if you’re on Twitter then you know who I’m referring to) gave me the confidence to walk into local B&M’s and have conversations with the owners and members, and ask questions of veteran smokers while proudly exclaiming that I was new to cigars, and soak in anything and everything they were willing to teach me.

I smoked and I questioned, and I read, and I learned about cigars, and the next thing I knew a couple years went by, and I was a veteran cigar smoker. I was one of the guys who was sending bombs to new smokers I met on Twitter.  ~~ It’s so hard to believe it’s been almost four years of cigars on Twitter for me. ~~

In April of this year I hopped in my car and drove an hour and half, smoking a CyB, to northern New Jersey to attend the NJ Cigar Festival. What made this trip special was the fact that I was going to meet a bunch of the guys that I’ve come to consider friends. Guys I knew only from Twitter, as strange as that sounds. I met up with Irv in the parking lot (Irv I already knew. He’s actually a neighborhood guy as it turned out), and then the guys starting coming in, and though we were meeting for the first time it was as though we did this every weekend. There was Matt Ross, Brian “Leakester” Leake, Vic Lucatorto and his son Vic, and three of the four Bodega boys, Ronny, Stephane and G, and the genius himself, Mr. Jose Blanco. We spent hours together that day sharing stories, sharing cigars, and sharing the enjoyment of each other’s company.

Its guys like these that make the cigar community so special. Complete strangers, whose love of cigars and cigar people is so strong that instant friendships can be formed.

The generosity and sincerity of guys like Ronny, Steph, Rob, and Gino made me fall in love with the cigar community. To me, it’s made up of the most unique cast of characters, and there is nothing else that compares to it. I was thrilled when G asked me to be a contributor to the Bodega website. Accepting that offer was an easy decision, and I close my first post by wishing Ronny, Steph, Rob and G the best of luck with Bodega Premium Blends, and their website. I’m honored to be even a small part of it. Thank you, guys.

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DK

DK is a born and raised Philadelphian. Creator of the 2gentlemenreview.com. Lover of cigars, Hamm's beer, the Flyers and Phillies. DK is an amateur Rock’N’Roll historian with a focus on early rhythm and blues and 1950’s vocal groups. When he grows up, he wants to be a writer.

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8 Comments

  1. Love it!

  2. Thanks Gino! Site looks fantastic!

  3. Great read man, and thanks for turning me on to the site. Its looking great guys

  4. Great write up DK. This community is one big happy family and I’m glad to interact with many people on the sites. There’s a lot of great B&SOTL.

  5. Congrats on getting the site up and running. Many good things to come in the future.

  6. Great write up DK…and it’s in part to Gino and the others you mentioned that my delving deeper into my cigar education has been so enjoyable..

    • DK is slowly but surely becoming a superstar in this industry. Once again great job.

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