There’s nothing like a good pop-up lounge, and on a rooftop in Downtown Oakland. I am so here for it. Gurkha- Royal – Courtesan – Cigar. My friends call me Royal; you can call me Gurkha.

Bay Royal Cigar Lounge, not to be confused with Gurkha Royal. Be clear, I came first. But, yeah, Bay Royal Cigar Lounge is the kind of networking my week calls for. I glide off the elevator like the showstopper I am. The host is looking down as I approach and begins to request, “I need your ID and-” As she looks up to glimpse who she’s addressing, she extends an apologetic smile my way before turning to the doorman and giving an affirmative nod to grant me access. I subtly glide toward the crowd.

Where my humidor leaves off, fame picks up because there’s something insatiable about it that keeps me moist. The vibe is high like a family cookout. And because I frequent Bay Royal events … and because the patrons are almost as proud as I am, I can make appearances without so much fawning going on. A “What’s up, Royal?” or an intermittent wink is the most I get and I’m good to just vibe and move around.

“Bay Royal events are about the people. They’re nostalgic,” I overhear a Bay aficionado explaining to a curious rookie. “It transports me back to when my father and uncles used to sit around and smoke, talk, and play cards & dominoes while my mother and aunts were in the kitchen.” She’s good people and a consummate fan. I’ll get with her shortly; but now it’s me and you.

I’ve grown from a petite, proud and fragile Mesoamerican seed, stemming from Mayan roots, specifically. I’m from the tropics. Even after I’ve matured and life starts uprooting me, sensibility and my sensitivities warrant me moving in a controlled environment. I am to be handled with the utmost care and only by torcedores. Say it with me tork’der. They’re a highly trained and skilled bunch, producing a couple hundred per day. Now, the fermentation process … it can be a grueling workout when humidity is just right, at like 80-95%. But, as they say, “No pain … No gain,” because, when I step out … I’m rocking the utmost flavor! Nipped, tucked and rolled. Yeah, they keep me snatched like a Kardashian surgeon.

Speaking of … I come from a family of label whores; I admit. When we’re feeling jazzy, we roll out with either of my siblings Davidoff Aniversario Series, or the Short Series if our time is limited. And it’s a definite taboo to step foot on a red carpet – or any high society engagement – without a fitting with our chic cousin Padron Anniversary Series 1964. Then there are those times we want to just casually lounge; we rendezvous with our extended family, Ferio Tego Timeless. That reminds me: you must have heard of Ashton Estate Sun Grown … she hosts all of our special events. We are an opulent, proud bunch and it’s apparent nowhere greater than with my sister-in-law, Opus X The Lost City. Ugh! I could go on endlessly dropping names, but I’m sure you get the picture: We are not basic. Frankly, we’re high maintenance … and what? As my Uncle Texas Lancero always says, “Go big, or go home.”

Since I’ve exposed my fam, I might as well let you in on a scandal. What’s fame without a good scandal, right? Well, in 1961 the CIA manipulated me into trying to kill Fidel Castro. Close, but no cigar … it failed and I was off that hook. But, then there’s also the allegation that as the first global trade good, I fueled the African Slave Trade.  However, I’ve been to rehab and am in … remission? Well, progress, not perfecti-

Anyway, just note I have a sultry way of overcoming obstacles, including this gossip. I mean, if Cubans recruited Cohiba to disarm Christopher Columbus’s unavailing quest for treasure … trust me to overcome controversy, drama, or displeasure.

I’m refined, yet fluid; I  get around: being taken in by the gamut of followers. Ironically, the more I get around, the more I’m revered.

My primary love language? Quality time. When I’m ready and only when I’m ready, reap my harvest. Even still pamper me until I’m fully cured. I am complex and layered: flaky like a croissant but dense like tension.

I’m highly rated, regulated and I do pay taxes. Yet, despite all I do right, there are always trolls. Uhh-hmm! Most recently perpetuated by the National Cancer Institute and the American Lung Association. The rumor is that I am toxic … more toxic than cigarettes, even though I’m much more elusive in practice. I mean it’s the taste for me, not the consumption, right-

Who swallows?

Whatever!

Since Cabanas, the first Spanish cigar company, and Connecticut Broadleaf, the first American-based cigar company, I’ve grown an impenetrable following. And, if Mark Twain smoked 300 cigars a month and Roman Catholic missionaries gave my seed to help increase my popularity … there’s no turning back. Royal remains!

NCI, ALA, and the like, please let me live.

Next in Series: Cutting & Smoking