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Blowing Smoke at Big Cigars

August 21, 1988

David Shaw's peroration on cigar smoking in restaurants brought up several interesting points--most of which were a tad wrongheaded.

Shaw may be magnanimous and accommodating by not firing up his stogies in intime sports, or by dousing them when some glaring, ax-wielding harridan shoots daggers at him. But in a couple of run-ins I've had recently with cigar smokers, my experience ran counter to his:

While dining at Rondo ( before its expansion), a tiny, windowless room, an older gentleman two tables away lit up a very large cigar just as our meal was beginning. An ex-cigarette smoker myself, I loathe proselytizers and try not to make a nuisance of myself unless the smoke really gets in my eyes and palate.

I very politely asked the gentleman if he would please not smoke since the room was so small and poorly ventilated that it was beginning to resemble the Bicycle Club at 3 a.m. He then proceeded to excoriate me in no uncertain terms, berating me for not making my request before he lit up. He then called the maitre d' over to complain about me .

During dessert at Citrus, a threesome (one man, two women) all lit up cigars. The smoke was blowing directly in our faces, and since one of my companions was pregnant and the smoke was making her rather ill, I once again apologetically begged their indulgence, citing my enceinte pal and the fact that we were almost through with dessert.

After ignoring my first few entreaties, the male (who had the biggest cigar, by the way) looked at me like something he just scraped off his shoe, and the triad then began to laugh uproariously as though I were quite the silliest girl imaginable.

So there.

DEBORAH SROLOFF

Los Angeles

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