I know what you’re thinking. The title alone of this post is a bit of an oxymoron. Etiquette at the Dirty Dog is a bit of a peculiar thing (mainly because we don’t really exercise it very often). Life is a lot more fun without it, we’ve found. With that in mind, we don’t expect this to be the most active category on our blog. We have a few suggestions that we’ll get into over time, though. This one, however, is a life lesson. This is possibly the most important thing you’ll ever learn about cigars. Without any further ado, let’s do this.
On a trip to Nicaragua a few years back, Tim and I had the opportunity to attend a blending session with one of the industries true gentlemen. An absolute legend when it comes to blending cigars. This man has forgotten more about cigars than any of us will ever know. Before we even talked about the basics of blending, José Blanco taught us a lesson that we will never forget. He asked us to think about the perfect cigar, whatever that meant to us. Several people brought up their favorite sticks. A few of us were more inclined to think of an experience that was enhanced by a great cigar. José then dropped the bomb on us. “How could you ruin that perfect cigar?”, he asked. We all went quiet for at least 30 seconds. It was sort of a sad thought to dwell on and nobody knew the answer. After what felt like forever a few people started to speak up. We heard answers like, “it starts to unravel on you” and other things related to the cigar itself. That’s when it happened. That’s when we heard the phrase that has become the mantra for the Dirty Dog Cigar Shoppe.
“You can ruin the perfect cigar by smoking it next to an asshole.”
That was it. Here we were expecting some epic knowledge on how to cut a cigar. Maybe it was a trick with how to light it. We didn’t expect that. José’s answer was met with laughter, as you might expect. While we were laughing, though, each one of us was having a moment of clarity on something we already knew. Cigars are about community. They are about friendship. There is a reason the phrase brother/sister of the leaf exists. We are a family. Sure, there is something nice about relaxing on the porch with a beer and a cigar as your only company. It’s tough to match the experience of sitting down with a friend and swapping stories for a couple of hours over a cigar, though.
So what’s the lesson? It’s pretty simple. Don’t be that asshole. Also, don’t feel like you have to tolerate one either. I’ve walked into a lot of shops/lounges over the past couple of years. I’m sure many of you have walked into many more than I’ve seen. There are great people in each one of them. The Dog prides itself on being a place that anyone can walk into and feel like they’re at home. Your income, job title, age, sex, race or whatever don’t matter. When you’re here, you’re family. That’s not because of us. That’s because of our friends that step foot in here every day. We built the rooms… you built the Dog. We’re thankful to say that in our six years, we have only run into a couple of people that didn’t play nice. Luckily, we don’t see them anymore.
It’s a simple lesson, but when one of the legends of the industry makes it his first point to you… you don’t forget it. Remember that piece of etiquette every time you walk into a shop. Whether it’s our shop here in Pittsburgh or any shop across the globe. We already have enough people attacking us from the outside. Let’s keep life on the inside as enjoyable as possible.
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Until next time…
Cheers and long ashes!