We had barely rinsed our palates with a tawny 12 YO triple cask Balvanie at a malt tasting; when the waft of the sommelier’s taste notes spiel was broken by a lady chiming in to know, if there are any fine cigars to kick in the mood for malts; and then almost like a well-rehearsed army drill, 15 necks cricked and heads cocked in unison; positioning in sync 30 balls on to this lady-(no I am not hinting at any other anatomy); she almost shocked them off their sockets in a gleeful awe and some men picked their tongues up off the floor too!!! Women and cigars? Huh!
Let’s not pretend here, there’s something sexy and alluring about these women. There is. They mesmerise by their selfconfidence and ‘care two hoots’ disposition. What is so alluring about these cigar smoking women? What makes them so damn attractive to men, is a question that people often ask. No matter how far the modern man has come, the basic phantom of the caveman will always play up and raise its head, hormones will be toasted and primordial basic instincts will reach the tipping point; journeys of oral fixation from the nipple of nourishment to the oral pacification will be bridged in a flash, carnal connotations will fly–at the sight of a women lipping a brown, long, cylindrical thing...even the most sophisticated straight men will drown in the deluge of their drool.
These are the progressive new times, women are liberating and feel rightfully empowered to tread into the predominant male bastions; knowing well that men love this new bold woman who like a breeze skitters in, as their kissing cousin. She has an incisive mind and holds no qualms to deal with the comments, jabs and jeers, cat calls and eyeballs as she draws on her smoke. She holds her head high and doesn’t care about defying rules.
Nothing startles me now at my cigar events, when a lady walks up to me nonchalantly, oblivious to any unwarranted societal chagrin; asking if we have cigars for women and unabashedly proclaims: ‘I like a bigger size. One draws more flavour’. They’re stay-at-home moms, petite executives, socialites who work out and actually consider themselves ‘health nuts’; a small, but growing percentage of women who are pussyfooting into the fascinating world of cigars. You will spot them mellifluously filling in like a whiff of fresh air at the predominantly men frequented cigar-and-malt parties, cigar pairings and tastings...At trendy clubs such as Manhattan’s Le Cigar at Tatou and Cigar Bar, traditionally the only women were models in short skirts, and at George Sand Society events, where women outnumber men three to one, women cigar aficionados are a visible new presence. They are ready to be at the altar of scrutiny, to be fawned upon, flirted with, wined and dined, if not worshipped, by the pick of sorted men; they are the axis of all the balls (eh!! I said eyeballs)... Let me share a memory of an interesting incident in New York few years back; coming out of a bar after a tipple session with my buddies and for firing my cigar I had to excuse myself to go in the open; I had barely taken a few draws of my Tatuaje, when this wobbly lady; three sheets to the wind, with eyes popped bigger than the cinema popcorns in uncontained excitement came slurrrrring at me, “Oh my gosh! Are you smoking a cigar? You just left us with the most incredible smell as you passed by and I HAVE to try that cigar. Please pleasaase blow it my way.”
Cut to the days Colette’s Gigi in late 50s, played by Leslie Caron, who portrays cigar as a provocative novelty. Significantly, selecting, unwrapping and clipping a cigar–and then offer it to her escort. Gigi might appreciate cigars, but the pleasures of a smoke were still reserved for her men. Cigars have belonged to men. Or so it would seem. With a cigar, men celebrate the birth of a child, cement business deals, celebrate golf and affirm friendships. Cigars have been integral part of such cherished guy-rituals but the new winds of change are surely sweeping the men off their ashes making space for Daryl Hannas, Wendy Crewson cigar smoking bed mate of Arnold in the 6th day, Madonnas, Angelinas and Demi Moores of the world who break the glass ceilings, this archetypal mould for the new age woman; those who dive into the breach of the society’s disdain giving a new dimension to their uncompromising individuality.
History vouches, famous women have always had power over men, and in many cases they have been powerful enough to make them switch decisions... They are the ones who make companies in the masculine marketing space–professional sports, mobikes, automobiles, lifestyle, liquors, cigars and more to sit up to mull over a dilemma of how to put their twos and twos together in a catch 22 of making their products more feminine friendly. Men like women who do not look like them, but do things like them; who knew that a slender, brown, pungent, smouldering cylinder could be that great equaliser of men and women; one that would bring them to an even keel in society; one that you could hold in your hand and blow in public. To some it may intimidate and to some it may titillate to initiate as a co-conspirator bricking down the gender walls. Cigars become the social glue that binds them to the men without a piercing shard of any jury’s scorn. When a man and woman share the love of cigars, it creates a unique intimacy, it’s an unspoken bond.
The link between women and cigars is not shrouded in smoke and mystery any longer. Cigar smokers are bucking the tradition, and are coming out of the closet. They’re savouring the cigar lifestyle and rituals–and why shouldn’t they? When over 90 per cent of the cigar rollers are women, who roll out the most indulgent pleasure of cigars to the world, why they should their ilk be kept off their pieces de resistance! It’s not an anomaly or a coincidence–it’s a progressive shift and stake of their claim on simple pleasures of living that they can take in public and make their freedom as an event to celebrate. For these women, cigars are a relaxing ritual, a reflection of the level of status and success, they are an attractive and sophisticated bunch who know what they want. May their tribes grow. Clear the air, blow it my way!