college frat party 249x300 - Red Bull and CigarettesWhy do I smoke Cigars and drink Whisky? Am I creating an image? Or responding subconsciously to someone else’s? After a recent staff Christmas party these questions were put into a new context for me.

Put up your hand if this sounds familiar:  The night starts with a casual beer, usually over some upbeat conversation. As the beer buzz starts to take hold, an energy drink based cocktail or shot is doled out, signalling that the evenings socializing is no longer just casual. We’re partying. The next hour is a blur of beer and cocktails, characterized by up-tempo, confidence laden chatter between yourself and your peers. At some point, you find yourself moving with a crowd – towards the outdoor area where your buzz is given CPR by nicotine – the cigarette. Rinse and repeat. The next day, you will swear you will never do it again.

Perhaps this social hedonism is not discernible from the sensual delights of cigar smoke and well aged spirits. After all, isn’t the afterglow a remnant of pleasure in both cases? The beer bonger in the picture would tell me that I’m chasing the same buzz she is. The difference, for me, is that I revel in the first phase – that social beer in the example above.  A night spent slowly savoring scotch and hand-rolled tobacco has more meaning to me; it stretches out the most important part of the evening. I realized during my staff party that the real bonding between my co-workers happened during that first beer. The rest of the night was simply not my favorite kind of indulgence.

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