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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Metro cigar shops meccas for male bonding | ajc.com

Metro cigar shops meccas for male bonding | ajc.comMetro cigar shops meccas for male bonding

> By PAUL KAPLAN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 07/05/05

Men know where to go to find women. They go where women go: health clubs, coffee shops, art shows, bars, you name it.

But where can a guy go to get away from women? Where can he go for an hour or two that's just him and the boys?

That's getting tougher as the rules of engagement change. Go to a Braves game, for example, and there are women everywhere. An action flick? Forget about it. Women flock to those films. Same for the neighborhood pub, and even the local pool hall.

No, if a guy wants to hang with guys, try the neighborhood cigar shop.

"It's the last bastion," said Kenny Kraus, a police detective who moonlights behind the counter at Cigar Merchant in Roswell.

Each day at lunchtime, and again after work, men all around town head to their local cigar shop for a smoke and a little friendly conversation.

Some shops have back rooms with couches, big chairs, televisions, men's magazines — whatever you like. And somebody's sure to have a little whiskey in his rented cigar locker. The guys sit around, fire up their "sticks," as they call them, and shoot the breeze.

That means there's a lot of cutting up. It can get a little raunchy, so bring your thick skin. This is not a stamp club.

"Long time no see, Mikey. Thought you died."

"Wishful thinking."

Women come in to buy cigars, and some venture into the back room, but that's rare. All they would find anyway are a bunch of guys pontificating about women, golf and why the Braves won't win the World Series.

It's very smoky in the back room, and that's a perfectly good reason to avoid these places, which are exempt from the new statewide smoking ban. Cigars are bad for your health, stain your teeth and make you smell like day-old roadkill.

Cigar buffs don't care. They love their bad habit, and only half-jokingly follow the doctrine of tobacco baron Zino Davidoff: "If your wife doesn't like the aroma of your cigar, change your wife."

A lot of the guys are married, and they come in for a little break.

Allan Buelvas, a supervisor at an auto parts plant in Alpharetta, was run over by a forklift at work and injured his ankle. He's in a cast and can't work. When he needs to get out of the house, he goes to the cigar shop, plops down in a leather chair, picks out a movie on cable and lights up a fat stogie.

Does the wife know where he is?

"Oh, yeah," Buelvas said with a laugh, "about half the time. The other half I'm supposedly at Home Depot, buying stuff I've already got."

The regulars have a friendly poker game Thursday nights at Cigar Merchant. The only rule: If you have a thought that is politically correct, keep it to yourself.

Steve Treloar, a risk management specialist, brings his laptop computer to "settle issues," as he put it. Disagreements break out all the time — How old is Bobby Cox? Who's the hottest babe? — and Treloar arbitrates. He stands over his laptop like a rock 'n' roll keyboardist, banging around the Internet until he has his evidence.

"OK," he said, stepping back from a steamy movie still. "Mimi Rogers."

Little is resolved, because no one agrees about anything and the subject keeps changing.

That's fine with the guys, who have the attention span of a newborn during these gatherings.

Bob Wachtel, who owns Tobacco World in Marietta, drives over to Roswell on Thursday nights to hang with his buddies and play cards. In the middle of a hand, he had an epiphany.

A cigar shop for women only — except for him.

The guys nodded and grunted approval. Definitely an idea worth exploring.

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend Cigar Emporium on Lower Roswell Road just west of Johnson Ferry road next to the Longhorn Steakhouse in East Cobb County. It has a very welcoming and knowledgable staff. A great group of very diverse guys hangs out there on a daily basis. The owner, Ed Head, has a second store location on Highway 78 and East Park Place (north side of 78) in Stone Mountain (just on the Gwinnett side of the mountain). It is also a great place to hang out. Both stores have a large collection of cigars in all price ranges. You will find me discussing the issues of the day in the Cobb County store most afternoons. Come and hang out.

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