Tuesday, December 6, 2022

How to Be a Good Ambassador (The best way to present your hobby) | A Kaplowitz Media. Think Piece

How to Be a Good Ambassador (The best way to present your hobby) | A Kaplowitz Media. Think Piece

I don't recall any of the journalistic 'Five Ws' (who, what when, where, and why) of my infatuation or even my introduction to cigars and/or pipe tobacco. Perhaps it's simply that I've always been attracted to sunsetting interests; to traditional things three-quarters along their way into shuffling off to Buffalo. What I do recall is that I didn't have a mentor or look to crowdsource any advice.

But that was a pair-plus of decades ago. Now, it's seemingly expected that you do not embark on a possible-potential interest alone. This is the age of immediate experts and avalanching advice given by constantly newly-minted internet gurus. "Thinking of smoking my first cigar. What should I do?" I also don't recall ever 'thinking' of smoking my first cigar or pipe--I sort of just did it. Similarly, I picked up a cast iron skillet many moons ago, probably stuck something in it, and cooked whatever it was.

Pardon me as I scoot about a bit. I'm making a point or something. Sure, my dad got me started on Sherlock Holmes with a paperback edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but it was me (I alone) who went to the public library in search of more. We all gravitate to what we gravitate to. I never asked what next or now or how. Perhaps it's my autodidact nature which is a nicer way of saying I prefer to fuck around and find out. Carpe diem (or YOLO if you're a dullard).

Whatever the reason and whenever it happened, we keepers of niche knowledge are now somewhat expected, as said, to share our thoughts and tips. I wrote a book, How to Enjoy a Cigar, about pretty much just that. Be that as it may and believe it or not, I abhor the role of guide. It's only partially due to misanthropy and malaise. The book I wrote gives little information beyond 'here's how you do it,' and it tries ever so hard not to confuse 101 and 102 with Ph.D. coursework.

Because avalanching with particulars and sides of debates is not allowing the hobby its allure and therefore it's ultimately you failing at playing ambassador. Hey, I overheard you saying you tuned into WWE for the first time in years. You need to check out these two obscure Japanese strong-style wrestlers who both look like potatoes in sweatpants and T-shirts smacking each other in the chest for ten minutes! Love ya, Corny.

I've seen excited first-time buyers of cast iron skillets be bombarded with bullshit. Why, again, they look for it is unknown. "How'd I do?" And they show off their spankin' new chicken-fryer. You managed the transaction well, or you somehow figured out a way to smuggle a large slab of pig steel by store security. That's how you did and hey, congrats. It's in your home. Maybe throw a burger in it? But then here come the others to tell you about why it is or isn't the right size or brand.

Great pickup! Even though it's pre-seasoned and good to go, you should strip it with lye or dunk it in something called an electrolysis tank and then season it no less than three or six times. That's when other failing ambassadors chime in with proper oils, oven temps, and time lengths. You need a chainmail scrubber!!! "Welcome to our hobby! It's hard and we're weird!" Good pick up on that copy of Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but you should really start with A Study in Scarlet...

You've read three short stories and you don't own The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by William S. Baring-Gould yet? You need both ponderous volumes to fully appreciate these stories which might or might not have been written for young boys. How could you go any further without being lost? You want to smoke a cigar? Oh, you might want to smoke a cigar. Well, you first need a tupperdor, a limited edition stick you'll never find anywhere, and say--what do you know about relative humidity?

Welcome to our hobby! Pipes are awesome. That Dr. Grabow or Missouri Meerschaum is good for a little while but have you seen the artisan stuff this one guy on the other side of the world is cranking out? Amazing. Sure a couple of grand is a lot to pay but... And you'll need one for your English blends, one for VaPers, and of course another for aromatics. Hey, where did he run off to? You're scaring people off, see.

Yes, we are all terribly excited about what excites us but even tears of joy can extinguish a candle. I'm thinking of smoking a cigar. Of snagging a pipe and some Captain Whoever. Of buying a cast iron frypan, of getting into Sherlock Holmes. These are flickering wicks on a windowsill. An ambassador should do no more than to make sure the window behind is shut. Anything else coming out of your mouth is also accompanied by dangerous winds.

What should suffice are the immortal words Rocky Balboa had for Clubber Lang, "Go for it." If pressed, and again as a guy who's (quite carefully and hopefully responsibly) written a book offering advice--do that ever-so sparingly. Things like don't inhale, do read left to right (typically), don't let your pan stay wet, and it's OK to think Hulk Hogan was awesome... but err way toward saying nothing in order to avoid the slippery slope of over-informing rolling into crap information and passing off preferences as truths.

To be honest, most of my tutorials are at least in some part de-programming efforts.

In employing this hands-off approach, the hope is that the somewhat maybe interested party finds out things on his (or her) own. Again, it's not laziness or disinterest, it's simply the best way to make excellent new hobbyists and not over-knowledgeable know-nothings. Then to welcome (self) made men (and women) into our embarrassingly geeky little folds. From there we all grow together. Although I'll probably just stay back to smoke, read, and fry up some slidey eggs.

::: very :::