Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stinking out the joint

Odour of scotch, cigars too much for better halves to handle

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My wife wanted me to take my clothes off.

"DO NOT COME IN HERE!" she shrieked in panic as I slowly turned the knob to open our bedroom door. "TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF AND LEAVE THEM IN THE HALLWAY!"

I know what you are thinking, and you should be ashamed. It wasn't that She Who Must Not Be Named was overcome with an intense desire to see me make a grand entrance in the altogether.

No, it was just that she didn't want the overwhelming aroma emanating from my body and apparel to cause her delicate gastrointestinal system to launch into reverse-thruster mode, if you catch my medical drift.

"YOU STINK!" is how my wife politely put it.

Technically, she was right. I was more fragrant than usual because I had just returned from the annual Scotch & Cigar Appreciation Evening held in the backyard of my buddy, Dave, who lives across the street from my buddy, Bob.

The problem is my wife is a woman and her hyper-sensitive olfactory system is capable of detecting cigar smoke at the molecular level, whereas, being a guy, I am biologically unable to detect offensive stench atoms, even if the lit end of a cigar has been thrust deep into my nasal cavity.

My wife is so deeply offended by cigar stink she even refused to pick me up at the end of scotch and cigar night, opting instead to send my daughter, accompanied by our miniature wiener dog, to drive me home, where I was ordered to remove my smoke-infused garments before sliding into bed, where my wife, after one whiff of my cigar-scented hair, ducked her head under the covers and again sullenly grunted: "YOU STINK!"

The sociological point I am making here is cigars are one of those sensitive issues that tend to divide married human beings along gender lines, which is why scotch and cigar night at Dave's house is a mostly men-only event. Also, we are not allowed to bring our wives. So that might be a factor.

For those of you who have never attended an event of this nature, it is a magical evening wherein men stand shoulder to shoulder in manly clots and bond with one another by blowing cigar smoke and scotch fumes into each other's faces.

As I have noted previously, the closest female equivalent to this gathering would be a baby shower. While there are no actual babies allowed at a scotch and cigar night, guys do carry expensive bottles of scotch the way a protective mother carries a newborn, although your standard guy is far less likely to lose his grip on a bottle of whisky.

The things you will not typically find at this annual event are women and mosquitoes, both of which are kept at a distance by the thick cloud of fragrant smoke wafting over the heads of participants.

It may surprise you to learn that when we are not making sophisticated remarks about various scotches and cigars -- "It is difficult to see through this thick cloud of smoke, but I sense your sweater is on fire!" -- we guys will spend the bulk of the evening sharing our innermost feelings, as evidenced by this revealing conversation I overheard between two of the sensitive men in attendance:

First guy: "How did you feel about that guy on Uruguay's soccer team biting that Italian guy in the World Cup?"

Second guy: "I only saw the replay several hundred times on TV, but I still felt it was extremely awesome!"

First guy: "I feel I could not agree with you more!"

So, please, do not tell me modern guys of my gender are not in touch with their inner child, because I probably wouldn't be able to hear you anyway.

The real highlight of the night comes near the end when, in the darkness of his backyard, Dave dishes up barbecued hotdogs, which we have to hold in one hand, while we clutch a tumbler of scotch in the other, all the while puffing on a cigar that is clenched tightly between our teeth.

It is in this state of manly bliss in which we cap off the evening's festivities by listening to three kilt-clad members of the famed Winnipeg Police Pipe Band in the form of two bagpipers and a drummer play traditional Scottish tunes at a decibel level designed to annoy the neighbours and cause us scotch-swilling, cigar-smoking, hotdog-munching modern men to become just a touch misty-eyed.

Maybe it was the skirl of the bagpipes or maybe it was just the simple joy of getting together for intimate conversations with like-minded men, but there was definitely something magical in the air that night.

And if the wives of any of the guys who attended this smoke-filled evening are reading today's column, I'd just like to let them know -- and this comes from the bottom of my heart -- our pants are still lying on the floor in the hallway.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2014 0

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