A VegaFina cigar for lunch at Qortoba Baabdat.

Have a Cigar: VegaFina Nicaragua Gran Toro

Name: VegaFina Nicaragua Gran Toro

Country: Nicaragua

Shape: Parejo

Size: (6 inches x 52)

Strength: Medium

This was my first time smoking a VegaFina cigar. Overall, it was an okay experience. I paired it with a pilsner and smoked it while having lunch. It had a good burn and a good draw. It wasn’t what I would call an aromatic cigar, but it wasn’t like smoking newspaper either. Uncomplicated and straightforward is how I would describe it. A stronger drink like whisky or vodka would have likely made the experience a little better.

Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill Cigar Review. Beirut, Lebanon.

Have a Cigar: Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill

Name: Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill

Country: Cuba

Shape: Parejo

Size: Robusto (4 7/8 inches x 50)

Strength: Medium

It was a hot Wednesday night, and we were having dinner outdoors at Cinco in Broummana. In a bubble of loud and bassy music, I lit the Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchill, my first Cuban cigar ever.

After the first few puffs, I took a deep breath, and it felt like I inhaled the night. It was wonderful.

Medium flavored and perfectly balanced, I smoked this cigar until my fingers burned. I paired it with Famous Grouse Smoky Black at first, and then I switched to pilsner. Both went pretty well with it.

I inhaled the night.
I inhaled the night like I used to in Hamra
but this time in Broummana.

The year: 2021.
The month: July.
Temperature: Hot.
Humidity: High.

Bars and restaurants were swarming with
hungry, horny, thirsty
people (hedonistic automatons)
as usual
as if Covid-19 was already history,
as if the Lebanese pound was strong and stable,
as if the Beirut port explosion never happened,
blah, blah, (I’m so drunk writing this)
and all the brouhaha.

Cars honked at high heels and tight dresses.
The valets then took those cars and parked them in parallel universes.

I inhaled the night.

I could smell the perfumes of rivals in a love triangle.
I could smell the sweat of the working-class, the hard workers.
I could smell garbage and sulfur.

The ghosts of
the dreams and desires of my generation
filled my lungs.

I needed to burn something.
I needed a smoke.

The hostess took me to the table
where my friends were sitting,
chit-chatting, already moving
to the beat.

That night,
I tasted what Lebanon could have been,
and I tasted my first Cuban cigar.

“For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

As the electronic beats’ vibrations massaged my glutes,
I smoked, and
I observed the night.

I saw Beauty in a long-term relationship with Sadness.
I saw Past and Present sitting on high stools facing one another,
smoking cigarettes and sharing memories.
There was a third stool at their table, but it was empty.

I drank. I observed.
I ordered many drinks, and I drank
while I observed.

Yes, well, it seemed everyone was outdoors
living in a bubble of loud and bassy music
as if they weren’t suffering, or mourning, or dying.

There was life.
But where the music did not reach, life did not either.

Hedonists everywhere! And I was a hedonist
partying like
après moi, le déluge.
Every now and then, one must party like
après moi, le déluge.

So, I drank until everybody was drunk.

But though we were partying like free spirits,
I knew we weren’t free at all.
We were, in fact, afraid of freedom.
We were, in fact, only acting like we were free.

Paulo Freire said it right in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift.
It must be pursued constantly and responsibly.”

Drink Responsibly,” the sign said.
(I’m so drunk writing this.)

And “It is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained,” Hegel said
in one of his books.
But we are not ready to risk anything.
We lost everything.
We don’t have the means to risk anything.

Let me tell you,
the air was so humid all foreheads shined like stars.