Cigar Envy (or Hey, It’s Just A Cigar)

Cigar Aficionado can be a stimulating read.  The magazine’s glossy images of cigars are often referred to as “cigar porn” and justifiably so.  The lighting is dramatic, the cigar textures sensual, and the up-scale backdrops are akin to that of the Playboy Mansion.   To a cigar-lover, a “sexy” cigar photo has a lot of appeal.  Certainly not as much as a centerfold, but the feelings that both pictures elicit are not dissimilar, i.e. desire, curiosity, and emotional stimulation. The act of sex and smoking cigars also share physical similarities.  For example, kissing and cigar smoking are both sensual acts performed orally, and the silky wrapper of a cigar can feel as enticing as human skin.  These comparisons may seem silly, but there is one thing cigar lovers would agree on…cigar smoking is a sensual, intimate experience.

Playing the numbers game…

The 1979 movie “10” introduced a numerical system to judge a woman’s physical beauty.  From that point on, every woman’s attractiveness was doomed to become a numerical value based on a scale of 1 to 10.   Physical beauty was always a staple of Hollywood films, and we now have a way of grading it. Here again, physical desire and cigars are similar. Both are rated numerically, with cigars having a top score of 100.   The higher the number, the more desirable the woman/cigar becomes.  Yet it seems that for some men, the desire to get a 10 is less important than getting a certain “type” of woman.  It could be a “big” woman who excites him, or perhaps an “older woman”.  This is to say that personal taste plays an important roll in sexual attraction and one mans’ 10 could be another man’s 6.  That is also true when choosing a cigar.  Cigar smokers may prefer one brand or vitola over another, but generally, the higher the number the more desirable the cigar/woman.

In the dictionary, the word envy is defined as “A desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to someone else” (a quote from the Apple Dictionary).  In the case of a centerfold, the fantasy of sex with a printed figure is not envy, unless the woman is the wife of a friend, in which case the husband is the focus of one’s envy.  The same is true for cigars that are deemed as unattainable for the “average” man.  We often fantasize about the things that are beyond our reach, things “out of our league” that only a select few are able to obtain.  This is true not only for beautiful movie stars, but for exceptionally rare cigars as well.  In a recent Cigar Aficionado article, James Suckling wrote about sharing rare cigars with wealthy cigar collectors in exotic international locales.  To many readers this article would provide a wonderful vicarious experience, but to others may serve as a source of envy.  Yet in this case the object of envy is not the smoker, but the cigar itself.  As with fine wine, the act of aging cigars can create an exception smoking experience.  One that newly rolled cigars cannot deliver.  Additionally the high cost of cigars makes collecting and aging them a pursuit reserved for the wealthy.  But “Cigar Envy” can occur with inexpensive cigars as well, provided they are hard to find and have received rave reviews and ratings in the mid 90s.  So for cigar enthusiasts, talk of a great cigar can create a desire that, in turn, could become a source of longing, at least until the cigar is eventually consumed.

A psychological approach to “Cigar Envy”…

At this point it’s good to look back and get in touch with why we smoke cigars in the first place.  Do we NEED to have that “unattainable” cigar to enjoy smoking?  Would smoking an exceptionally rare cigar REALLY be that much better than the cigars we already love?  I think not.  The pleasure we get from smoking our favorite cigars is founded in the ability of a particular cigar to deliver qualities that speak to our own personal tastes.  We often read about a “great” cigar that, to some, is nothing special.  A great cigar is only great to the person who thinks it is so.  Each of us has our own preferences by which we judge cigars, and these preferences determine how we deem a cigar to be great.  Besides, with the current trend to age tobacco before rolling it into a cigar has leveled the playing field in terms of cigar age.  So the next time we read of that twenty-year-old Cohiba, we should remember that its existence does not make our favorite cigars any less enjoyable.  We love them because of “who they are”, and they will always be special to us.   Remember, that twenty year old Cohiba is just a cigar.

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