We ate, we drank, we smoked, we had fun.

We ate, we drank, we smoked, we had fun.

There’s plenty of “churchy” news in the Archdiocese of Boston today, but that will have to wait until I’ve written this blog.

As I mentioned on my wait out last night, I went to a cigar and martini dinner at The International, a very private country club in Bolton, Mass., that has the distinction of having the longest 18-hole golf course in the world. Anyway, I got in among this distinguished crowd by virtue of the fact that my friend Paul’s brother-in-law George is a member. Riding on coattails.

The dinner was amazing. On the way into the function room, we were greeted by some guys from Ashton cigar handing out their Ashton Double Magnum, a corona gorda with a 50 ring gauge and 6-inch length. It has a natural-leaf wrapper and was the perfect opener. Very mild smoke to get you started. It went perfectly with the Turi vodka martinis. The martini was crystal clean, smooth, not at all harsh. It’s a dangerous drink because you could drink two or three of them before you realize you’re smashed. The appetizers during the cocktail hour were amazing, especially the shrimp that were the size of some lobster tails! (Okay, not that big, but not far from the truth.)

Let me tell you a little about the crowd. Except for the waitstaff and the liquor company reps, it was completely male. And even though I’m 35, there may have been one or two guys younger than me. The average net worth for the room was in the seven-figure range, with me bringing the average down a lot! At least one guy was worth $1 billion, one of the co-founders of the EMC computer company. (He was the “M” in EMC). If someone had dropped a bomb on the room, they would have decimated the economy of Massachusetts if not all of New England.

But for all their money and power, they were all like big kids. They talked about sports, bragged about their exploits partying and drinking, and generally carried on. Almost all of them were either divorced, talked about how unhappy they were with their wives, or carried on with the female servers to show it. My overall impression is that I was among a roomful of Type-A personalities, the kind that make lots of money in their lifetimes, but who don’t know the value of a simple loving relationship. I’d rather be poor and in love with a wonderful woman, than rich and in a loveless marriage.

Anyway, back to the dinner. It began with a seafood bisque paired with an Ashton Maduro wrapper. I forget which particular size. After that was a fantastic Caesar salad in a bowl made of Asiago cheese that was melted and hardened in the right shape somehow. Then a sherbert paired with an Ashton Belicoso. Finally, the main course was filet mignon with a lobster tail. The lobster was especially good because the chef had cooked it with lavender, something I would not have thought, but it’s a natural. Lavender is a very delicate smell and taste and it won’t overpower the delicate taste of lobster. A great idea.

Dessert was a chocolate torte followed by a final smoke. I didn’t smoke all five cogars we were given and I brought a few home, including the Ashton VSG that looks delicious. By the end of the dinner (actually even before the main course), the room was filled with clouds of aromatic smoke, like the burnt offerings in the Jerusalem temple, wafting up to heaven. smile In any event, I took some time out to get some fresh air outside. Otherwise, I would have overdosed on the smoke.

Dinner was followed by a raffle in which they gave out all kinds of gifts, from boxes of cigars to a Bombay Sapphire Gin martini kit (won by George) to silk robes to golf shirts to the grand prize of a humidor. Of course, the prizes became secondary to the young ladies from the Bacardi liquor company giving hugs to the winners as they handed over the prizes and the rest of the room hooted and hollered. For all their wealth and influence, these men of industry and power weren’t far removed from a bunch of drunken college frat boys.

After dinner, we had a few more drinks and then went back to the club’s hotel to stay overnight. (Didn’t want to drive impaired after all.)

What a great time it was, despite the sophomoric antics. For a writer, it was a goldmine of material. I loved observing the different personalities, from the Armenian-American hotel and casino mogul talking about a $30 million deal to buy a Tuscan village and turn it in a resort, to the old-money Yankee who knows everybody and has a drinking story about them. Or the stereotypical red-faced Irishman or the brash and arrogant Italian or the old-money guys in their checked blazers and stuffed shirts. It was a lot of fun.

And it highlighted for me the need for men to be able to get together in an all-male environment to let off steam and have a good time. Okay, so it doesn’t have to get crass or disrespectful, but I think guys—especially the Type A personalities—need a place where they can let down their hair, brag to their friends, bump chests, smoke cigars, have a few drinks, and just be guys. It’s in our nature to be gregarious, competitive, and boisterous, but at a certain age and state in life, you have to settle down and act respectable and restrained, especially in mixed company. So it’s a nice outlet, once in a while, not all the time, to hang out, eat good, drink good, and smoke good.