It seems like it was only yesterday that Kensington Tobacconist closed its doors for the last time. It has been a few years but I think fondly of the shop. I spent a great deal of time there over the years and die a little inside every time I see what it has become – A Subway Restaurant.
One of the unique aspects of Kensington was the layout of the shop itself. The retail space was on the main floor while the public smoking lounge was in the basement. The lounge was a bit dark, it smelled of stale smoke, and the ventilation wasn’t great, but it was our space to sit and solve all the world’s problems.
Conversation was generally lively or entertaining enough to hold your attention. Cell phones were rarely out and there was no television to distract you – the lack of TV was deliberate as the lounge-goers preferred not to have one. All that changed later on when a private lounge was opened on the second floor.
The lounge was a tremendous upgrade. Seating was comfortable, windows let in plenty of natural light, and the ventilation system was far better. An additional perk to the lounge was a television set with cable package. It wasn’t long before the ‘No TV’ policy went out the window and it was on around round the clock.
Kensington’s Private Lounge became Fox News Central and I slowly began to loathe it. Conversation shifted from stories about our everyday lives and the happenings around town to politics. There wasn’t much in the way of bickering, not in the beginning anyway, but slowly the discussions grew heated and became more frequent.
I don’t recall when it happened exactly but one day I simply had enough. The private lounge wasn’t fun anymore and I got far more enjoyment out of hanging out in the retail space with the shop owner. There was a little animosity at first. Some of the guys saw the situation as me turning my back on the crew. There were a few awkward moments but the cigar shop was suddenly fun again.
When Kensington Tobacconist closed I was homeless as far as a cigar shop was concerned. Many of the regulars shifted to a newer shop across town but I didn’t follow suit. I fell out of touch with the guys and began buying practically all of my cigars online. The situation remained the same for quite a while before I moved and began frequenting a new shop.
For the past couple of years it has been just like old times. We talk, we laugh, and we carry on having a good time. Even though the shop is fantastic, sometimes I worry. Lately, more often than not, I arrive at the lounge and am greeted by the sounds of Fox News. Perhaps the election season has more people talking politics? Perhaps I’ve just grown sensitive to the topic? Perhaps I’m just imagining things?
Whatever the case, I’m sick and tired of politics. Between the shop, Facebook, Twitter, and the Local News, I get more than I can stand. I’d hate to have to start avoiding my favorite cigar shop because it was no longer a place to unwind with the guys and enjoy myself.