Back on the day that I ended up eating Krispy Kreme donuts hot off the line, my friend Tray invited me to a steak restaurant, Hal's, to smoke cigars with him and some of his buddies as the thing I’ve never done before.
I declined his offer for several reasons, but mainly because I wanted my Hal's experience to be just that--an experience. I wanted Filet Mignon, red wine, dessert, coffee, and, of course my very own cigar to enjoy following dinner. We’d sit in a candle lit, smoke-filled room with a big dark, wooden table and talk about our lives while puffing on stogies. Like a scene out of the Godfather, minus the Italian food.
Yes, that's exactly how I envisioned my first time smoking a cigar.
But if there is one thing that I've learned since starting this little project, it's that nothing ever happens quite as I planned it in my mind.
Weeks later, I found myself enjoying my last weekend of a two week vacation at my friend Lindsay’s 30th birthday bash on Folly Beach. She had managed to corral a large, spirited group willing to celebrate her milestone birthday with a weekend full of fun, debauchery and dance parties.
Among those who made the trip to Charleston was my brother’s old friend Ben. I’ve known Ben for a long time, but it had been a while since he and I'd seen him. He hadn’t changed a bit, though; he is still one of the nicest, most optimistic people I’ve ever met. He and his wife Mary Ann are such great people and so much fun.
At one point during our beach day, Ben announced he was headed back to the house and wanted to know if anyone needed anything. I had been contemplating how I was going to manage my need to use the bathroom, since I refused to reveal my sunburn for all to see by disrobing in front of the masses on the beach to use the world’s largest toilet, the ocean. So I hitched a ride with Ben back to the house to use the facilities.
That was all entirely too much information just to tell you that on our ride, Ben was, no surprise, a wave of positivity, talking about how much fun he was having, how there was still more fun ahead that evening, and how he’d hoped he and Trey, our other friend, would be cracking into some Cubans later.
"Cubans," he said, seeing that I was confused about what he was talking about, "Cigars?"
"Oh, right, of course," I replied. Apparently the sun had fried my legs and my brain.
Ben went on as he opened the door to the beach house, "There's just something about a cigar that really classes a place up, you know?"
First of all, what a hilarious thing to say, and Ben said it with such conviction, I knew he believed what he was saying was the truth.
Secondly, we’d spent all day pounding domestic beers on the beach and the entire night before playing flip cup (did I mention this was a 30th birthday party?), so if ever there was a party in need of “classing up,” it was this one. I’m just not sure there were enough cigars in the world to pull it off.
But, if he’s got cigars and I’m in need of doing something that I’ve never done before (I know you’re not surprised that I’ve spent many a domestic beer drinking days on the beach and I’ve played quite a bit of flip cup before.), then maybe I should abandon my whole steak dinner, red wine, cigar fantasy and ask Ben if he would let me try one.
So I told him about the blog and he was happy to help, making Day 223’s thing I’ve never done before to smoke a cigar.
Later that night, after a positively glorious day on the beach, we continued Lindsay’s party back at the house with a cookout. And soon I was being summoned to the grill to partake in the cigar that Ben had promised me. He'd already lit it, and by the looks of the stubby thing, he'd already been smoking it for several hours.
He handed it to me, and I kind of held it awkwardly, staring at him for direction as to what to do next, as if I hadn’t ever seen anyone smoke a cigar before. Ben didn’t give me the instructions I was seeking, he just reminded me, as several people already had, not to inhale it.
I did as I was told, and took a couple of puffs, careful not to inhale the smoke. The end of the cigar was soggy, because apparently, as Ben and Trey demonstrated, smoking a cigar is really just chewing on the end of it, puffing it occasionally for effect and hooking it dramatically with your pointer finger to remove it from your mouth.
I expected to be disgusted by the taste, but I wasn’t at all. Because cigars, at least this one, didn’t really have much taste at all.
And as far as “classying up the place” goes, I didn’t feel classy at all. In fact, I felt kind of dirty. Maybe it’s that whole Monica Lewinsky thing?
After taking a few puffs on the cigar, I shared with the group, who all wanted to know what I thought, that I was underwhelmed. I handed the stogy back to Ben and went about the evening enjoying the birthday celebration well into the early morning.
The next morning, we had to clean the party house before packing up and heading home. I thanked Ben for being a part of the blog and as I took a load of trash to the dumpster, I heard Trey's husky voice calling out to me from the master bedroom.
"Hey Steph, did I make the blog?" he yelled.
Indeed, Trey, you did. You classy thing.