Sunday, July 6, 2014

James Gandolfini: On relaxation

Patron saint of cigar smokers, James Gandolfini, passed away a bit over a year ago. In case you missed it, here is a memoriam from Cigar Aficionado. (Full disclosure--he was my celebrity crush, my hall pass. Dammit!!)

In "The Sopranos: Mob Rule" from the March/April 2001 edition of Cigar Aficionado, Gandolfini "admits to a fondness for cigars, but again he declines to be specific. 'I very much love cigars,' he says. 'I went to Spain with a friend about eight or nine years ago, and that's where I discovered them. I hadn't really smoked them much before, but I found them incredibly relaxing. Now I'll smoke maybe three or four a week. I'll sit in the same place and not move for 45 minutes. It's a ritual I really enjoy.'"

That's the cool thing about cigars and cigar smokers. I've noticed in my years of second-hand smoking that it's impossible to light up and not be noticeably more relaxed. If we could see the cigar smoker's thought bubble, it would start with, "Ahhhh..." Or maybe, "Fuck, yeah..." depending on his or her mood. Having also been around cigarette smokers for a good part of my life, I've never witnessed this relaxation on lighting up. Generally, they try to get through the smoke as quickly as possible, whereas the cigar smokers let the taste and the experience linger.

Valentino and I were on a Caribbean cruise not too long ago (and yet it seems like a million years ago) and as we walked the length of the deck to get to the cigar-smoking area (THAT is a rant for another day), we passed the cigarette smokers who were puffing furiously, begging the nicotine to get into their systems so they could muster up the energy to spend quality time with their families. I smiled at them (because--cruise and Caribbean!) and they, as a general rule, scowled at best, ignored us at worst. Or maybe that should be the other way around.  Regardless, not one of them looked happy. Not. One.

When we arrived at the cigar-smoking holy ground, and we scanned the area for a place to sit, a man took the cigar out of his mouth, waved us over, said, "Please, come join me!" (Hi, Robert Payton!) While there's lots more to say about the trip and the cigars, and the friends we made, the point here can be summed up by our walk back to our Crown Loft Suite on the Allure of the Seas: cigarette smokers, some different, some the same probably, loitering on the starboard side, not talking to each other, just getting through their seven-minute smokes before returning to the fun.

For us, part of the cruise's fun WAS the smoke (or the second-hand smoke, in my case) and the smokers.


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