Did you know that you can order cigars online? That seems obvious, of course, but it never occurred to me. I was under the misapprehension that tobacco products had to be purchased over the counter where a proof-of-age verification was required.
Nope. Turns out you can buy virtually anything online: whiskey, cigars, fireworks, and even a lap dance according to an article in The New York Times. I’m not sure how that works. Somehow connected to 3D printing, I suppose.
Anyway, during these weeks of the coronavirus pandemic my stock of hand-rolled cigars became precariously low, dwindling to a half dozen. Although I smoke no more than one in the course of a week or 10 days, usually when I need inspiration while I am writing, I did not foresee the onset of my cigar shortage that would be caused by social distancing, shelter in place orders, and self-isolation. All too soon I was down to one: a Te Amo Robusto that I had hoped to save for a special occasion, such as the much-delayed start of the baseball season.
I began to fret. Perhaps smoke shops are on the list of Essential Businesses designated by the state in this time of COVID-19, but the closest shops that sell hand-rolled cigars are, respectively, 67 and 71 miles from our farm. My nicotine habit (some would say addiction) is not so desperate that I am willing to venture that far outside my self-isolation sphere.
Imagine this scenario:
Doctor: “How did you contract coronavirus?”
Me (as medical technicians prepare a ventilator): “I think I was infected when the clerk at the smoke shop had a coughing fit.”
But an epiphany: Could one, I wondered, order cigars online and have them shipped by mail? No face-to-face contact, no exchange of contaminated cash, no smoke shop clerk seized by a coughing fit.
I did some investigation. Lo and behold there are dozens and dozens of vendors that sell cigars online. Maybe hundreds. And their styles and brands were myriad:
Parejos, Coronas, Petit Coronas, Corona Gordas, Churchills, Robustos, Toros, Panetelas, Lonsdales, Figurados, Pyramids, Belicosos, Torpedos, Perfectos…Probably even the lost-to-memory Cuba Stouts, Cheroots, Havanas, Larranagas, and Cabanas that Kipling praised 135 years ago in his poem The Betrothed.-.“You must choose between me and your cigar” – Breach of Promise Case, circa 1885.
Entranced, I bought a box of 18 cigars, Churchills, plus a free sampler of 10, for $82.84. That’s less than $3 per cigar, and they cost $5-$6 at the smoke shop. A bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree, and probably more than six month’s supply for me. And they arrive in a sturdy cigar box.
The only shortcoming is matches. The smoke shops always offer a free box of matches when I buy cigars. Maybe matches are too dangerous to ship.
If I had known this new continent of cigars awaited me across unexplored seas, I would have sailed off long ago. My wife was less enthusiastic. She said, “Why don’t you just buy marijuana?!”
Well, this perked my interest. I investigated.
Although I’m not sure it is legal to buy marijuana online in our state since the hidebound legislature has approved neither medicinal nor recreational use, it is in fact available online. But it is really expensive — like $250. I explained to her that cigars are a much better deal financially, give me a similar high, and do not involved legal entanglements. At least that is how I justified the purchase.
The online vendor sent me an email message yesterday reporting that my order had been shipped. After six weeks of isolation this feels like the day before Christmas. A cloudy, vaporous, foul-smelling Christmas, but you know what I mean.
More essays and stories about life in the North Country are published in my six collections of essays, available through Amazon.com at Jerry Johnson Author Page