Valentine’s Day is a time for sharing. And I’m not just referring to intimate thoughts and candlelight dinners. It’s also a time for sharing cigars with that special someone.
During the cigar boom of the 1990s, there was a resurgence of women cigar smokers in the United States, and I was honored to be invited to give the very first all-women’s cigar seminar. It was held at the no-longer-existing Dunhill store on Union Square in San Francisco, which at that time carried a wide assortment of cigars, and the event received widespread news coverage.
Seventy-five women showed up for my seminar and the only two men in the store were Michael Pelusi the manager, and myself. It was a great ratio! But the most interesting thing was that there were no soccer-Moms attending. They were all business women and executives. Unlike men, who smoke cigars for pleasure, when asked why they were interested in cigar smoking, the majority of them said it was to put them on an even keel with men in the workplace. “Some of us don’t like to play golf,” one of them told me.
As the cigar boom grew, more and more women took up cigar smoking, as it really did make them an equal with “the guys” without having to become one of the guys. They still retained their femininity. But one of the results was they discovered cigar smoking was a relaxing pastime, and I can remember going to a number of cigar bars (before the anti-smoking laws shut most of them down) and seeing women and men, as couples or in groups, enjoying their cocktails, conversations, and cigars. Nowadays only a few places, such as Club Macanudo in New York, still offer a friendly environment where men and women can smoke with equality.
But at that first seminar and others that followed, I learned many things about women cigar smokers. Now, the one thing I know nothing about is women, but I have learned a great deal by listening to them, and so now I gladly pass some of this information on to you.
First, a woman will ask questions a guy never will. Not because he doesn’t want to know, but because he’s embarrassed to ask about things he feels he should already know, even if he doesn’t. Women have no such compunctions. For example, one of the most frequently asked questions at women’s seminars is, “How do I hold a cigar?” They also want to know what to do if they get lipstick on a cigar. My answer: “Leave it, just as you would with lipstick on a cocktail glass. It shows you are a woman. And if you put your cigar down for a moment in an ashtray, there’s no question that it’s yours.
Also, women do not necessarily like big ring-gauged cigars, and the current trend of 54 to 60-plus ring sizes may be macho enough for us guys, but it’s off-putting for female smokers. Many of them feel much more comfortable – and to me at least, look more elegant – with a Lonsdale or a panetela. During the cigar boom, when my wife found herself attending many of my media interviews and TV appearances, she took up smoking Macanudo Portofinos, as she liked the mild taste of the Café. In addition, the tubed cigar was convenient to carry in her purse without having to resort to a cigar case.
However, while women often like less-obtrusively-shaped cigars, that doesn’t mean they always want milder flavors. Some do. But some women, like men, prefer a richer, fuller taste, such as the Punch Upper Cut, especially in the 6 x 45 Double Corona size. Likewise, they don’t want to be pandered to with condescending feminine touches like pink cigar bands and frilly silk boxes (not that anyone is making these anymore – thankfully, to the best of my knowledge).
So the next time you and that special someone find yourselves in a smoke-friendly setting, offer her a cigar – or better yet, a selection of cigars so she can choose between shapes and strength. You may just find that you have more in common than you think.
Photo credit to Bodega Premium Blends.
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