This entry is part 21 of 22 in the series Wicked Wednesday

Communicate!

There are lots of ways that we, as humans, communicate with each other.

Obviously there is verbal communication, that’s what naturally springs to mind for most of us when we hear the word.  Once we are past a couple years of age, words shape our perception of things, and the spoken word is king.  As children we spent hours upon hours listening to our teachers talk, likely far more time than we spend with our noses in books.   Language matters.  It is, perhaps, mankind’s most important invention.

But, for the purposes of today’s topic, I’m more interested in non-verbal forms of communication.  The messages we send with the clothes we wear, as well as the products we purchase and use, are perhaps even more important in signalling who we are, than anything we might say.

Why is that, I wondered?

At least that was my response when I first started to ponder this question.  Why can’t we just trust people to tell us who they are?

Then I remembered the old adage – “Talk is cheap!”  Some folks will say most anything to get what they want, or so it seems.  With that in mind, it does pay us good heed to look deeper than just listening to an individual’s words.  As they say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Cigars!?!

drew-estate-dirt-torpedo-05Which brings me to the topic of this Wicked Wednesday post – cigars.  Ha!  I bet you were thinking this was a post about communication – and it is that indeed – it’s just not a normal association that most folks consciously make.  But, believe it or not, every time I light a cigar I am communicating with the world.

Cigars have a particular mystique about them.  Their use makes specific statements about who I am, and what I value.

Cigarettes are for the poor.  While advertising men once tried to make cigarette smoking appear to be a luxurious and decadent habit, the truth is cigarettes are vulgar.  Being quick and easily available, they are the tobacco of choice for whores.  And even without the vulgar association cigarettes bring to mind, I have to say that I don’t need to inhale smoke deep into my lungs to appreciate it’s characteristics.  Nor do I need my tobacco laced with a variety of exotic chemicals, as is the common practice by cigarette manufacturers.

Smoking a pipe, on the other hand, is a decidedly middle class hobby.  At least that’s the way it’s associated in my mind.  Solid middle class icons from my childhood, the father’s of 1950’s television families in particular, smoked pipes.  Pipes are also the domain of intellectuals, Albert Einstein smoked a pipe, as did Sherlock Holmes (perhaps the most prominent literary intellectual from my childhood.)

my three sons pipe smokerCigars, however, speak not so much of working or middle class styles and aspirations, but instead signify to me icons of power and fame (not to mention infamy.)  Cigars are an expression of machismo, power, influence, wealth, and sophistication.  Politicians and mobsters (aren’t they really one and the same most of the time?) smoke cigars.  Real adventurers, as well as action/adventure movie heroes smoke cigars, as do several of our former Governor’s and Presidents.

Cigars are celebrated.  Barack Obama’s cigarette habit is a dirty little secret, something that certainly could not be said about Richard Nixon’s enjoyment of a fine cigar.  Bill Clinton’s use of a cigar might have been a dirty little secret had it not turned into national news, but that’s the exception that makes the rule.  I’ve known die hard republican right wing types that asked their submissive lady to give his cigar’s that special sort of wetting, all the while hoping it just kept his fellow libertarians from mooching.  I hope, at least for both his lady and Ms Lewinski’s sake, that the gentlemen in question smoked something a little fatter than a 48 ring gauge.

Even our birth rituals point to the importance of the cigar.  I’m quite sure that nobody anywhere has passed a pinch of pipe tobacco around to celebrate a new baby, nor do they pass around Marlboro’s.  Indeed the cigar is unique in the world of tobacco.

smoke signals – communicating my alpha-maleness w/ cigars

As a alpha type male, when I light a cigar I send a clear message, a “smoke signal” if you will.  I’d like to think that I smoke because I enjoy the ritual, because I find it to be a relaxing and fascinating hobby, rather than because it might make me look powerful, or dominant, or because it’s an expression of my personal sense of masculine pride.

drew-estate-dirt-torpedo-02Yet, my conscious mind knows all of those things.  My head knows the message I communicate to the world when I relax and enjoy a fine cigar.  There’s no telling what my sub-conscious mind has for reasoning, in terms of my motivation to occasionally enjoy a fine cigar, as that part of our brain is protected from our consciousness by a protective fog.  But I am savvy enough to know the motivations are complex, and they probably just aren’t about me.

We, as human beings, are all social creatures.  That’s perhaps the most disturbing part of conditions like autism, they rob us of that basic and essential human trait, the need to communicate and interact with others.

That’s part of what makes our interactions with each other so complex and hard to decipher.  And that’s what makes the simple act of lighting a cigar a form of communication.1

Sending Smoke Signals

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Wicked Wednesday
  1. if you really want to learn about communication, go to a seminar/class put on by someone like our friend _his_Owner who leads a great class on communication that she’s given at several national BDSM gatherings – I’m no expert at communication, I’m just a guy who tries to lead by example, and spends more than his share of time reflecting on why I do what I do.
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