From the dawn of time, nearly all civilizations, cultures, clubs, etc. adhere to a set of unwritten rules, or etiquette if you will. Cigar lounges are no different. There are certain behaviors that are likely to draw raised eyebrows and disapproving grumbles from your fellow lounge members, So in the name of protecting our readers reputations as fine upstanding citizens, we present to you: Cigar Lounge Etiquette 101.... the following is a list of the type of personas / behavioral traits that you definitely do not want to emulate.
1) The Licker
Most of us have encountered this phenomenon at some point in time. Glancing across the room, you can't help but to notice someone moistening up their cigar before cutting and firing it up. The Licker will longingly look the cigar up and down, and then proceed to fellate it before cutting and lighting. Some just lick the cap, others go all the way up and back down again. The Licker does this supposedly to help prevent the cap from cracking during cutting. Now...we will not chastise anyone for simply licking their cigars, despite the rather awkward visual it presents...however, there are a few souls out there either unaware or possibly just apathetic, who readily reach for a public cutter, or may ask whomever is next to them to to borrow one...post saliva bath. While aggressively lathering up your cigar may only earn you a giggle or a funny look, cutting it afterwards with a cutter that didn't come out of your own pocket is a sure way to make enemies quickly.
2) The Snorter
I personally love to get a good long whiff of the earthy, spicy tobacco scent emanating from a cigar almost every time before I light up. In my humble opinion, doing so is a sure way to kick start ones hypothalamus into pumping dopamine to your neurotransmitters. I always get a pleasurable rush during so. It can also aid you in selecting a cigar to smoke. So by now you are probably asking "Ok, so how does this practice conflict with cigar lounge etiquette?" I will sum it up in four words for you: Distance to nostril ratio. When partaking in this ritual, try to keep the cigar at least 1/2 an inch to a full inch from your nostrils. Though not as off putting to many as "the licker", "the snorter" will be sure to get a couple of double takes when spotted with a cigar crammed partially up his or her nose.
3) The Loudmouth
Everyone has opinions, and cigar lounges are often places where we get together and politely exchange or debate said opinions with fellow smokers. This a very healthy practice and often leads us to leave the lounge feeling just a little more enlightened than when we came in. It also allows people to bond with each other, even when opinions differ. The key phrase here is "politely exchange or debate". Most have no problem with this...however, there is always that one guy or gal...who will project their voice as if through a bullhorn to the entire room. This person usually has very strong opinions, and they are very sure that their opinion is the only one that matters. They believe that it would be a crime for the whole room NOT to hear their opinion, and it is equally as horrible if someone dare disagree with them.
4) The Spitter / Ashtray Abuser
Ashtrays are provided for your use by your cigar lounge for one reason: for you to drop your ash & cigar butts in. They are not intended for food, gum, empty bottles, etc. The one thing that they are definitely not to be used as, is your personal spittoon. Unless your favorite cigar lounge is located in Tombstone, Arizona, and the year is 1881, please refrain what that practice whatever you do. Not only will it help create an unsanitary environment and disgust and mortify patrons around you, you will also disgust and mortify the people responsible for cleaning them up after you...the hard working employees responsible for making sure your experience is all that it should be. Many lounges separate cigars and ash from other garbage and debris in order to reduce the risk of a fire. Ask yourself how you would feel to be standing in the shoes of the poor bastard in charge of picking through a bowl of spit, ash and food debris to ensure the safety of the lounge and its patrons.
5) The Cell Phone Commando
I can almost tie this one in above with "the loudmouth", but, I believe that the cell phone commando is a special breed, worthy of his/her own title and description. This individual doesn't appear to be directing their audio ammunition toward others in the room...but everyone knows that they truly are. There is no other explanation for the decibel levels comparable to a jet on take off that you are barking into your phone. (or worse yet, a Bluetooth set up that nobody can see, making the offender appear like a schizophrenic yelling at the air) We all are concerned for your health after learning about your recent struggles with gout....but we are also all frustrated that you have not made the seemingly easy choice of taking the conversation outside, or even just bringing the volume down to a level that blends in symbiotically with the background chatter.
6) The Braggart
Do you remember that kid sitting in the front row of class who's hand was always the first to shoot up when teacher asked a question? So do I. I hated that kid. Well, that kid is now all grown up, and might just be sitting across from you at your favorite cigar lounge. Brace yourself and be prepared to be pummeled by the sheer excellence that is the braggart. Your cigar is inferior to theirs. The Braggart knows this, because unlike you, they toured the factory, and then the factory of the cigar they are smoking. In fact, the cigar clenched in the meaty paw of your former/newly rediscovered nemesis is a custom blend that only he/she can get because they are well connected, while you clearly are not. Are you impressed yet? No? Well in case you were unaware, The Braggart's suit came from Brooks Brothers and is custom tailored. You can find the tailor a few blocks from here, but you have to say "Frank sent me" if you wan't your suit back in a timely fashion. Yours is from...what, JC Penny? You clearly need to be lectured as to why Brooks Brothers is a better choice, and possibly directions...there is a store just off the highway if you didn't know. You should consider what it can do for your image. Those Honda keys on the table belong to you right? Well The Braggart just casually tossed their keys on the table as well, conveniently within your line of sight. Mercedes. Nice. The dealer it was purchased from is just down the road in case you are ready for an upgrade. Do you need directions? Oh yeah, tell them "Frank sent you" if you don't want to get treated like a plebeian.
7) El Cubano Exclusivo
Those of us fortunate enough to have smoked Cuban cigars will predominantly agree that yes, Cuban cigars are usually pretty damn good. However, most of us in the know will also agree that there are plenty of good, even great, cigars that do not hail from Cuba. El Cubano Exclusivo however, does not agree. This elitist is so thoroughly convinced that good cigars can ONLY come from Cuba, that he/she will lift his/her nose high into the air and shun anything and everything else. I've given this phenomenon some thought, and my guess is that this condition is caused by the human psychological desire to obtain the unobtainable....to get what peers may find difficult to get. Or, perhaps, someone, somewhere, at some point, informed El Cubano Exclusivo, that the only good cigars are Cuban cigars, and boy did he/she lock on to that line of thought without question. Back in reality however, it is a well known fact that the quality of cigars coming out of Nicaragua, the DR, and elsewhere are matching, even surpassing, the quality of cigars coming out of Cuba. Another thing these individuals should keep in mind is that much of the time, even if the cigar band reads "Habana" on it...there is a mighty high chance that they are actually smoking on a generic cigar of unknown origin with a Photoshopped band slapped on it. It really doesn't matter that the guy selling "Cuban Cohiba's" on Calle Ocho swore up and down to you that they came from his uncle Pepe in Havana. He is almost certainly lying, and El Cubano Exclusivo is missing out on experiencing many great cigars due to an out dated, inaccurate, urban legend.
8) The Moocher
This category may best be summarized by questions. Would you find it acceptable to show up and sit down at a restaurant only to eat food that you cooked for yourself at home? Would you find it acceptable to cruise into a bar only to drink from the flask residing in your coat pocket? Would you find it acceptable to enter a coffee shop, order nothing but a complimentary cup of water, then sit down and log into their complimentary WiFi network? No? Great. I am quite relieved that you responded that way. One more question... Would you find it acceptable to enter a cigar lounge with plans of smoking only cigars you brought from somewhere else? No? Great. In that case there is no need for me to go into further detail about The Moocher.
9) La Confianza al Maximo
Cigar lounges by default are comfortable places. We want you to be comfortable, and we will do everything in our power to assure that you are. Unfortunately, there is always that one individual who decides to ratchet comfort up to an entirely new level. Over the years working in a cigar shop & lounge, I have seen a lot of things. I've seen people nonchalantly place their feet up upon public tables. I've seen people remove their shoes, and then place their feet upon public tables. Yes, I've even seen the shoes AND socks come off before the feet landed on the table. I've encountered people who seem to prefer ashing on the floor instead of into the ashtray two feet in front of them. I have witnessed someone clipping their fingernails and allowing the clippings to fall casually to the floor.Please do not do any of these things. We want you to be comfortable, but we want everyone else to be comfortable as well. It is one thing to collapse into a big comfy chair provided for you to unwind with a drink and a nice cigar, but it is an entirely different thing to act like you would on a Sunday morning inside of your living room. Be courteous, use common sense, and do not do anything that you wouldn't want to see the person sitting across from you to do.
So there you have it. A modest breakdown of how NOT to act the next time you saunter into a cigar lounge. I am sure there are plenty of other behaviors you should try to avoid, but the above mentioned ones are all considered to be in egregiously poor taste. If you refrain from them, your next visit will be pleasant for you, and pleasant for those around you. You may even leave with a few new friends. Cheers to that!