*This article is part of our Consumer Article contest. Whichever article has the most likes on our blog at the end of the contest will be chosen to be published in the next issue of Ash Quarterly Magazine.
My cigar journey began in Gilbert Arizona when I was 11 maybe 12 years old (many more years ago than I care to figure out). I went with my dad and Grandpa to a doctor’s appointment where my grandfather was diagnosed with a terminal illness and put on in-home hospice care. The Doctor explained that he had maybe 4-6 weeks on left before he would pass. My Grandfather was known as an extremely hardworking and caring man, he was also known as an avid consumer of whisky and cigars. This information was also very well known by his Doctor who on several occasions tried to get him to quit those vices. My grandpa was many things, but a quitter wasn’t one of them. It reminds me of a quote from the notorious cigar smoker George Burns when asked by Johnny Carson about his smoking 15 cigars a day “Now George, has your doctor…” only to be cut off by the 93-year-old Mr. Burns “My doctors dead”. That is exactly what my grandfather thought of his doctor’s advice about quitting, but this time I’m sure the doc thought he would finally get his way. He proceeded to explain to us that we should not allow him anymore whisky or cigars because it would decrease the amount of time he had left by about half. When we got back in the truck my dad looked at me and said “Mikey, do you think your grandpa would be happier with whisky and cigars for 2-3 weeks or without them for 4-6 weeks” To which I responded “definitely with whisky and cigars” So from that point forward, for the next several weeks, I was in charge of making sure he had his cigars when he wanted them. This turned out to be an important lesson for a pre-teen boy to learn, life is short, enjoy the things that help you make the most out of the time you have. Cigars have held a special place in my heart since that time, and that passion has stayed with me and grew through adulthood. My first cigar was given to me as a tip for completing a swimming pool build in Scottsdale Arizona. My partner and I were finishing up and showing the homeowner how to operate everything, afterward, the homeowner asked if we liked cigars. Having just turned 18 not long before then, I told him yes but have never gotten to try one. He handed us each a cigar and to this day I have no idea what kind he gave us, but that night I sat on the back porch of my apartment and enjoyed it as every draw reminded me of my grandpa. I was hooked, not necessarily by the cigar itself but for what it represented and how the time felt. Now, even into my 40’s I regularly find time to slow down and enjoy a cigar. Anywhere from 7-10 times a week, I’ll sit alone, with my wife or a friend, or even make time to introduce someone new to the hobby. But each time I watch as the clock slows, phones go away, walls come down and true fellowship builds. Out of every hobby I have participated in, smoking cigars is the only one I’ve done that can be enjoyed similarly by all groups, regardless of social class, age difference, gender, or race, in the lounge with a cigar we are all the same, just people trying to let the word slow down for a couple of hours and make the most out of the time we have left.