In a spurt of avuncular generosity, I handed the young man a cigar. It was a pretty good smoke, maybe a Romeo y Julieta or a Maria Mancini I had bought for half-price. (I buy all my cigars on sale or do not buy them at all.) The polite young man thanked me, clipped the end with a cigar cutter I dug up somewhere, and, when I held out the match, he began twiddling the cigar around the flame as if he were putting the last golden touches on a marshmallow. About to burn my fingers waiting for the tomfoolery to end, I exclaimed, in the gentle tone I usually reserve for sons and editorial assistants, “What in hell do you think you are doing?”
As a smoker who has sometimes been corralled into the concentration camps known as cigar bars, I had a dim idea of what he was doing, and the young man was kind enough to raise my blood pressure even higher by going into a brief though learned explanation of this toasting ritual. He had smoked perhaps a dozen cigars in his entire life, but he had the technique down pat.
Here, from CigarTrends.com, is a full explanation:
To light your cigar, first strike a match and hold it underneath the foot of the cigar to warm the tobacco. The distance should be great enough that the tip of the flame does not touch the underside of the wrapper. Roll the cigar slowly between your fingers to make sure the entire foot is evenly...