Covid & Cigars

Covid & Cigars

Posted by Ethan Botts on Mar 18th 2022

Why do you smoke cigars?

It may seem like a trivial question, but everyone has their reasons. My reason has changed over the years. First, it started out to relax. I thought I was stressed out when I was 18 (and I probably was to a degree, but what little did I know about life!), so I wanted to find a way to decompress. I picked up my first cigar, not for a nicotine high, but to try and take a load off.

This habit slowly evolved over the years. Sometimes I smoked to meditate on things. Other times it was because I really needed to collect my thoughts on school, relationships, or life. My favorite times were when I was able to enjoy a cigar or two with friends, talking (and often drinking), the night away. Eventually, as I smoked more cigars, trying everything I could get my hands on, it became about the taste.

Now, you might be thinking, “of course I want my cigar to taste good. No one enjoys a bad cigar!” And, while I agree, I would like to think that I took it to another level. I enjoy sitting down and dissecting a cigar. Trying to figure out what kind of tobacco is used by discerning what I tasted on my palate truly brings me joy. I want to taste every little nuance, every flavor that the tobacco has to offer. Working at a cigar shop, it also helps to be able to pick out the right cigar for a customer when they come in and request something creamy, floral, woody, chocolatey, peppery, or anything in between. The same goes for drink pairings, food, or anything else that you can taste. Flavor, and knowing it intimately, brings me fulfillment and happiness.

As I type this, Jason and I are currently on our way to TPE in Las Vegas. It is an industry trade show where manufactures and companies showcase new products. Attendees can try a plethora of cigars and can decide if they ‘deem it worthy’ to bring in and sell at their stores. Sounds like a good time, right? Especially for someone that enjoys trying new things to see what flavors may await.

Well, today also just so happens to be the one-year anniversary since I lost my smell and taste to COVID-19. Sadly, it still hasn’t come back. One of the few things that brought me happiness in this life was taken from me abruptly and without mercy. No longer can I taste nuance in a cigar, drink, or food. There is no trying to figure out the types of tobacco used by dissecting flavors. No more looking forward to trying something new. I rely on what other people tell me a cigar tastes like and prior knowledge of tobacco to help customers. There is no end in sight and no doctor knows if it will ever come back.

When Jason asked me what I would do if my smell and taste never came back shortly after I came back to work from quarantine, I vehemently said that there was no way I could continue to work at a place surrounded by what I used to love, knowing that I can’t taste any of it. I was angry at the time; angry that I got COVID, angry that my taste hadn’t returned when so many others had, angry that no medical professionals had any answers.

Looking back now it seems silly, what I said that is. Time grants perspective, and while I may not know why this happened to me, I am no longer asking. I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore, it is just part of life. I am not telling you this because I am looking for sympathy, either. I am hoping to possibly help you. Maybe you’re reading this right now, going through the exact same thing. I’ve found that there are a lot of us out there. Be encouraged, my friend. Life goes on and you can still enjoy the things you used to love, albeit in a different way.

It seems that things have come full circle for me. I now smoke cigars to relax, meditate, or chat with friends again. It no longer is about the taste, but the experience. And I think that is what all cigars should be, capsules of time. A vessel that contains a memory that hasn’t been made yet, a solution to a problem that hasn’t been solved yet, or better yet, a recliner for your mind, to take a load off and just be present in this crazy world.

Whatever your reason may be, enjoy it to its fullest potential. Savor each puff, conversation, reflection, or moment that goes along with it. There are plenty of existential sayings I could insert here, but in this context specifically, I’d rather just encourage you to reach in your humidor and grab that special cigar that you have been saving. God knows I have plenty that I was saving “for the right time.” I’m here to tell you that the right time is now, friend. Cigars are meant to be smoked, so smoke them and enjoy them as much as you can, whatever the occasion may be.