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Interview with Victor Park, Cigar Aficionado

Q: Why do you smoke cigars?
A: I smoke cigars to unplug. To achieve hyper present moments of just “being.”
From the moment I start to light a cigar throughout the duration of smoking it, the entire
experience allows me to un plug from the world and be in that present moment.

Q: Interesting philosophical approach to smoking cigars.
A: Yes.
To me philosophically, the entire experience of cigar smoking dissolves the ego. Its not about
the “escape” as some guys seek.
Instead, I go from having thoughts about the past or the future to only “being” in the present
In being in the present moment as I smoke my cigar, I become everything around me and what
I’m experiencing. Usually that’s being in a nice cigar lounge becoming mush in a nice leather
chair or couch with a water or a coffee and my cigar.

Q: That sounds great but any pet peeves?
A: Yes. I have some, but I don’t smoke as often as some of my hedge fund buddies do. These
regulars are still pretty chill but if you ask them about their pet peeves they surprisingly have
a number of gripes that they never mention.

Q: Like what?
A: For me, toasting. I watch how a guy lights his cigar philosophically. In my mind a cigar
should be lit with a cedar shaving – not a match as the match can contain sulfur that can leak
into the cigar taste. The cigar should be lit with the cedar shaving by toasting the edges of
the cigar with just the tip of the flame so the end of the wrapper burns inward creating a bit
of a seal with the filler and tobacco. Not only is this a relaxing ritual, lighting a cigar in this
manner increases the odds of an even burn.

Q: What else?
A: A guy has to be good to the cigar merchant. Sometimes I see guys come in to smoke cigars
they brought with them typically in a nice case. But I agree with the cigar merchant’s “buy
one” “smoke one” policy. That is, a guy can’t just come to a lounge with his cigars and lite
them up without buying one from the shop. It’s awkward for the cigar merchant to have a
cutting fee but there’s a reason why he does so. Usually a buy one/smoke one cutting fee sign
is posted. Even though no one may say thing, cigar smokers notice if a guy doesn’t comply
with the policy.

Q: Wow.
A: Yes, and if we’re on the subject, if a guy pulls a special box of cigars out of his locker, he’s
got to be prepared to offer one up to anyone that joins him as I’ve seen guys sit down with a
box of Cubans, talk up a big game about them, yet not offer any of his buddies a smoke. Not
cool according to cigar guy code.

Q: Interesting. Anything else?
A: Yes. a true smoker doesn’t flick his ash. If you watch the professional smokers they let the
ash develop as long as they can. And even when ashing, their technique is to roll the cigar
along the top of a cigar ashtray so the ash falls off in its entirety. A guy who flicks his cigar in
my mind is trying to make a point but in the context of a total tranquil setting, it ends up
looking like he’s trying to manufacture drama in a very subtle way. Again, a small point but
true cigar smokers notice.

Q: What else?
A: I’m not as particular as to whether you’re a cutter or a biter as I’m an old school biter. But
you’ve got to know basic things like not to bite a torpedo or perfecto. And not to
disrespectfully spit any errant tobacco pieces into the air. Instead discretely remove any
tobacco from your tongue or lips with your fingers and thumb and then precisely place them
onto only your side of the ash tray in a hygienic manner.

Also, be sensitive to the dynamics when you sit down at a local club, lounge or even at any
cigar store as there are usually regulars that respect unspoken seating arrangements. So if
you’re the outsider, be sure to offer up your seat when you see a regular arrive that seems a
little disoriented as to where he’s going to sit as you may be the jack ass sitting in his usual
seat and therefore disrupting the karmic vibe.

Q: Interesting. But I thought you said you were pretty chill when it came to cigar smoking.
A: I am. But I’m still a hedge fund data point guy. As a hedge fund data point guy you still
process these data points but you don’t react to them. You see, in the hedge fund data point
game its about what you didn’t know, that you didn’t know, you didn’t know.

Thank you for your thoughts.