A couple years back, a friend of mine offered me a cigar. He wanted to celebrate something, or commemorate something, or agitate his wife – I’m still not sure which. Although I’m a non-smoker, I accepted his offer. It wasn’t as if I’d never tried a cigar. When my girls were born I handed out pink ones that tasted like bubblegum. I had a few left over, so I kept them to try. I thought they were delicious.
Turns out, the cigar my friend handed me was the grown-up type made of actual tobacco, and had a fancy band imprinted with words other than El Bubble or Pink Owl. I wasn’t sure whether I should run away, feign sudden-onset menstrual cramps, or be a pal and have my respiratory system take one for the team. Before my bovine-like brain had a chance to process these options, I was holding a lit cigar somewhere between my fingers – clumsily, like a dog gripping a golf club. Five minutes later, I came to a realization – the kind of realization that bovine-brained people like me don’t often have. I liked it. I mean, I really, really enjoyed it; the flavor, the mellowing aspect of it, the nothing like bubblegum sweetness – all good.
Now, the story could have, or probably should have, ended there, but it didn’t. Inspired by this single cigar, I decided to do what anyone who’d discovered something so surprisingly enjoyable would do, and bought a few things.
Having said that, I understand that a cigar’s lack of heartbeat and non-existent digestive system make it somewhat easier to care for. And their inability to bark at inappropriate hours establishes them as neighbor friendly (although, if you smoke one in your back yard, and it happens to be a breezy day, they may not be as neighbor friendly as you had thought). But cigars require love and care, just like any pet – or else. Unless your house is kept at a level 70 degrees with a consistent humidity of 65 to 70 percent, and unless you keep the shades drawn to filter out sunlight, your little babies will have to remain in their cage, or humidor, which, I suppose, is a less savage-sounding moniker for the same thing.
But it doesn’t stop there. A healthy cigar in a humidor won’t stay healthy for long if you don’t keep said humidor clean (no table scraps allowed), moist (but not too moist), and cool (but not too cool). In other words, it’s a big responsibility. I had a pet boa constrictor for 26 years. Boas require a specific environment of uniform toastiness and Amazon (not the booksellers) level humidity. My boa was much easier to care for than any cigar. And he was easier to hold.
I have lots of pets, actually. And they’re not all cats and cigars. You do too, and you may not even realize it. Take clothes, for instance. They need regular baths, and they get all stiff and cranky if you don’t let them out of the closet and take them for a walk now and then. If you have a car, you have a pet. It needs to be fed and then hosed off after it plays in the puddles. The payoff for me though is when I ask my car if he wants to go for a ride; the way his headlights get all bright and glow-y – it gives me a warm feeling. Our homes are pets too. They may sit like a blob all day, never moving, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. If you do, they’ll bite you worse than a pile of fire ants, which, by the way, do not make good pets. I could go on and on, but I won’t – except to mention houseplants and golf clubs – you figure it out.
And just because all your pets don’t bark or meow, don’t assume they’re exempt from the occasional trip to the vet. Susie’s Dry Cleaners, The Home Depot, Bob’s Garage, Cigars International – all vets. They just sound friendlier and less expensive than Dr. Susie’s Dry Cleaners, Dr. Home Depot, Dr. Bob’s Garage, and Dr. Cigars International.
So, the bottom line I guess is that it’s very difficult for me to light up one of my stogies these days. I will hold them and nurture them, but as their father, kind of, it’s my responsibility to make sure they never get burned.
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Harry Margulies is the author of The Knowledge Holder and the to-be-released The Weight of the Moon. When he’s not writing about romance, money, women and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about, he’s frittering his precious time as a cartoonist.