Cigarette Girls were widely replaced by robots, who never never complain about sore feet and being pinched in the butt…


…blinking at the “cigarette girl’s” eyes, peeping into her docoltee and taking in the measurement of her legs and thighs while complimenting her charm and lipstick framed smile…


What is at one time called fashionable is unpopular at another time. True we are facing the year 2000, as I write this, and there are very few restaurants left in California which have cigarette vending machines. There is none in Monterey as far as I know. But an increasing number of restaurants offer smoking areas, like on the patio for the visiting tourist. Smoking tobacco is not gone out of style. It only deviated. With great interest do I watch. I like to see what’s new. I love to watch women going with the flow. It’s not the inhaling part, at least in my eyes, but seeing them sucking hot air, the dimple in their cheeks, glassy big watery eyes, caughing, gulping a drink, yet hanging on to their cigar.

Some of you might remember restaurants which used to have “Cigarette Girls.” Walking, often on high heels in head turning outfits, with her cigarette display cases, past and between the tables these young women advertised and displayed not only the tobacco they sold. Today few of these ladies can still be found in some gambling places, like the Casinos in Nevada. I liked their looks therefore I bought cigarettes from them, way back when I still smoked.
I took trendy “Cigarette Girls” for granted in any of the better nightclubs and restaurants. Nowadays all we have are maitre de’s offering cigars, nice cigars, expensive cigars. Still that’s no comparison to blinking at the “cigarette girl’s” eyes, peeping into her docoltee and taking in the measurement of her legs and thighs while complimenting her charm and lipstick framed smile. Each of those women represented both the show business and sales.
Cigarette sales persons were widely replaced by robots, who took money and spit out boxes of cigarettes. These machines never complained about sore feet and being pinched by male customers. Not too long ago, there was not one restaurant in the world who did not have a cigarette vending machine. Remember advertisement on match boxes was big business too.
Today, one trend has come full circle here in California. Before cigarettes became so common cigars were available in most restaurants. Nowadays again many a maître de keeps cedar cigar boxes with fine handmade cigars under lock, guarded like precious treasures. In many countries the Cuban cigars were and are praised as the best. I used to carry a cigar cutter; it was one of my waiter’s tools then. There was a ritual to unpacking, smelling, cutting and lighting of a cigar, the proper way. It’s coming back.
There is nothing cheap about cigars. I remember selling cigar and hundred year old cognac combinations; these sales added big bucks to any of my guests’ checks. There was a time when I asked my guest: “Is there a better way to finish a superb meal than with one of the finest handmade cigars?” (I haven’t used this phrase for many years till lately, till now!) I used to add, “I know just the right beverage to go with your cigar!” and “How important is this moment to you?” before going for the close with “Can you really afford to say ‘no’ to a glass of finest Cognac from the Petite Champagne, a limited bottling; so limited that it’s packaged in a numbered baccarat crystal carafe?”

No at this time it is not the in-thing around here — along the West Coast — to smoke cigarettes! But cigar-smoking is up. Women too have their suck on those six inch long round thingis. Just go out to the golf course, to the horse races, to the in-places where the creme de la creme dines and those people having fun.

Trend is when “the-norm” becomes an “it-used-to-be” as the norms, standards and rules change just the same as labels do.

The trendiest of all is the language. The good old waiter and waitress are now here in California often called servers. A sexless word replacing worn out old labels? Or is it maybe that waiters and waitresses look so much alike that they are called one and the same? Waiters and waitresses aren’t sexless and I can testify to this fact. Which clipboard-boy was responsible for this slur of a good old fashioned job description, I wonder?

Will I still be allowed to call a spade a spade and a diamond an diamond in the future? Words change, still I call myself a waiter, I have been doing so since 1964. Yet I remember I used to be called “Waiter!” and I titled my male customers “Sir”. Lately some of my guests call me “Sir!” that doesn’t mean a new trend but only that I am getting old.
Those changes, those drifts, directions, fashions and flows that are the trends we lovingly refer to as “…it used to be!”

Yes! Back in the sixties and seventies most restaurants around the globe used to carry cigars for their diners as an after dinner item. In the Netherlands women have always been smoking cigars since such arrived in the country, so I am told, and whoever could afford them always had a stush of the rolled tobacco leaves.

by helmut schonwalder