A friend of mine went to Cuba for some school-related project. She brought back a few cigars, Cohibas to be exact. In my group of friends smoking is not practiced, but there's a certain romantic fantasy about sitting down with a few friends (one of which could be a nice Scottish single malt or maybe some cognac) and solving the problems with the world. So we gladly accepted the gifts (though it should be said that when the person giving gifts is a tall, blonde, attractive and intelligent woman, the specification of the gift is of less importance, you will receive it gladly no matter what).
My total experience as a first hand smoker is probably less than a packet. Still, the time I tried it, I did not have the possibly prejudicial experience of getting sick and coughing my lungs out. No, had other circumstances not affected my life, it is very possible that I would have continued from my first experience as a smoker and become a regular one. Smelling the smoke from someone else's cigarette doesn't bother me; I almost enjoy it, although I do hate the reek that my clothes emit the day after a night out. And the smell of un-smoked tobacco beats newly ground coffee any day. So, as fanatic a non-smoker as I am, I still decided to give the cigar a go.
Naturally I started by looking for info on how to smoke a cigar. This quickly diversified into a general quest for knowledge regarding the history, heritage and poetry of cigars. What I found out was, amongst other things, that my Cohiba was a counterfeit. The rows of white squares were wrong, the text too and in reality, the situation as a whole. You see, another thing I learned was that Cohibas, on the street in Havana, would cost in the range of $20 each. As a present from one friend to another maybe not much to reflect upon, but when said friend buys a dozen and gives out them to all she meets, you'll have to start wonder. So, I concluded that my Cohiba was a fake.
Here's the thing, if you don't know anything else, what difference does the relative "realness" of, say, a cigar, really do? This was a cigar from Cuba, it was marked as a Cohiba and for me that was enough. I proceeded to don clothes that could handle some smoke and left my apartment for a ventilated place with a view.
To say the least, I was not successful. Going in I knew that the cigar was most probably too old, dried out during the cold Swedish winter. After some difficulty getting it lit I puffed on it a couple of times, but a pause of a few minutes killed the glow and now the fuel in my lighter was finished. I threw the cigar away, only having smoked a third of it. There had been smoke in my mouth but I can't say I was smoking. There wasn't a lot of pleasure tied to it in any case and mostly I wondered what the fuss was about. In conclusion I hadn't been turned into a cigar aficionado.
In my research for this w/u, I stumbled across the info on counterfeit Cohibas again. This time I checked the source, http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Counterfeits/Counterfeit_Gallery/, only to find that the info on E2 was deprecated. In 2003 the design of Cuban Cohibas changed into what I had been holding in my hand. I still don't know how my friend could afford that amount of fairly expensive (for a student) cigars, but at least now I can, with honesty, claim that I have smoked a Cuban cigar.