Thursday, October 29, 2009


I started smoking cigars when I was nineteen. I'd grown up in a house divided by smoking, it was one of the bad things my dad did. Somehow it was part of the package with depression, yelling and running away. To this day smoking is a demon in the family mythos, along with many other things most people take for granted. The ghosts dance like smoke across windows, playing hell with the light.
I'd always liked the smells of tobacco and smoke, so when cigars came up among older friends and mentors, and it sounded like something to try. I ordered one that looked tasty, a Churchill in a dark maduro wrapper, and did some basic reading. A toe in the water of vice, as an adult.
It was the first week in April, and a soft rain fell on a warm day. Everything was green and gray and the earth was rich with wetness. My mom was in the hospital, my dad with her, and I was alone on the ranch. The cigar has come, carefully packaged. It was a good day at the post office, a box of five vintage British Fairbairn-Sykes fighting daggers, and the cigar. I cut it, carefully, with a razorblade to protect the wrapped, and lit it with a cedar firebrand. And then I walked in the light, fine, rain. It was the beginning of everything.
More cigars followed, and whiskey and women. Vice, for the sake of vice. Because in their own right, these things are good and ends unto themselves. No demons need escaping, no wildness or chaos to cover despair and loneliness. The whiskey nights of smokey women and drunken, joying, love are their own justification.

If there is external motivation it is this - I do the things politeness says are bad for me because my heroes did them, and it made them who they were. They would have been barren abstractions without the smell of smoke or the whiskey stains or the women and heartbreak. I refuse to be barren, and I insist on being distinct.


Hat said...

It befuddles me that such things are taken to be "bad" in a simple, stark sense of the word, completely without context.

To be sure, I have found more joy and goodness from evenings involving such vices than not- in fact, I can think of no wholly unfortunate evenings.

The back porch needs a tarp to cover it, so when it next rains or snows cigars can be had.

Nagrom said...

It's all in how you put it to use.
Anything can be abused - Vice items are just an easier target, somewhat because of the ease of abuse sure, but it's still an unjust stigma.

Well... for us responsible sorts. Our Nazg├╗l "friend" on the other hand...

And yes, the porch needs a cover for enjoying salads under.

Hat said...

I think that's what really defines "vice" and "evil"- how one uses or abuses something. Taking something good and mistreating it.

I.e. our dear Nazgul. Great chap normally, but needs to grow up a bit (like I should talk though).

Porch covering to come..

Nagrom said...

Agreed. Such things are states of action, not of products.

You are quite a deal more grown up and mature than he is, particularly with booze-a-hol.