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Mary is blonde, beautiful, and the most vivacious woman I've ever known. She's also my fiancée. Like me, she's not a cigarette smoker, so I didn't know how she'd take it when I finally admitted I like to enjoy an occasional premium cigar.

Surprisingly, she took it very well. After just a week or two of hearing me rave about Cigar Aficionado and the many delights of cigars, she said she wanted to try one with me!

We decided a Friday night would be the best time to share the experience, so we began planning early in the week. To my delight, Mary got more excited as the days passed. She asked numerous questions about cigars, leafed through back issues of Cigar Aficionado (noting the photos of women cigar smokers in the Moments to Remember section), sent me e-mails regarding our big night, and even went with me to help select the cigars we'd share. (We decided on a tin of Montecruz Chicos, a Fuente Fuente OpusX and a Partagas No. 1.)

Friday finally arrived. An almost electric feeling of anticipation filled the air as we sat on the floor in my living room sipping drinks and listening to Haydn's Paris Symphonies Nos. 82-87. After a while, I lit one of the little cigars (because Mary wanted to start small) and handed it to her. She took it without hesitation, puffed on it and offered her comments on its taste. We shared it until we let it go out. Within minutes, she asked, "So, which one is next?"

The OpusX was next. Mary noticed a difference in its taste (compared to the Chicos) and said she liked it better. I agreed, but thought it was a little too tightly rolled. Its draw was more difficult than it should have been.

As good as the OpusX was, however, the big hit of the evening was the Partagas No. 1, which Mary helped cut and light (she was really getting into it by that time). With the very first puff, Mary declared the Partagas best of all. We spent the next 20 to 30 minutes sharing the No. 1, talking about cigars, sipping our drinks and watching a Queen concert video.

What a magical night! The sight of this gorgeous blonde woman sharing a cigar with me is an experience I'll never forget. We're already planning our next cigar night. . .with a Partagas or two on hand, of course.

William R. Murphy
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

* * *

Dear Marvin,

Thank you for your delightful July/August 1998 issue featuring Chuck Norris on your cover. I have never been a smoker, never been a martial artist, never been in law enforcement, nor have I ever envisioned myself in any of those capacities. I am, however, a somewhat sensitive, mature female who was irresistibly drawn to your magazine cover featuring the star of "Walker, Texas Ranger" when I was in Waldenbooks today. That cover now sits framed to my right, while "Walker" looks thoughtfully out at me, holding his cigar. In addition to all his other achievements brought out in your article, he appears to be a master of restrained sexuality.

Widowed two years ago, I find the attitude personified in "Walker" by Norris to be very similar to that of my late husband. I tell my children that I enjoy watching "Walker" because he reminds me of their father. Herb Jones was not in law enforcement but he did have a strong sense of right and wrong. When "Walker" needs to set the bad guys straight, it's because he feels so strongly about righting what he sees as being wrong. How so like Herb Jones.

When our four children were small, one look from Herb could hold them in check. I could look all day, and they would hardly notice. Now, I enjoy watching Norris keep the really bad guys in check every evening of the week on USA and on Saturday evening on CBS. In many ways he takes me back to my earlier married years, to a similarly strong, yet gentle, man.

Whether portraying the character Walker or someone else, Chuck Norris always seems to come across in his films as a man who feels strongly about seeing right triumph. Your writer, Alysse Minkoff, described him as being very much like the same type of multi-faceted man he portrays in his films. The accompanying photos you included by Stephen Wayda are incredible, also. Thanks.

Your restrained, sympathetic approach to your Chuck Norris article does you credit. Some current writers and magazines might be tempted to create a phony audience by treating a similar endeavor sensationally. They might even feature him on the front cover of their magazine but hardly mention him on the inside. How refreshing to see a magazine that can succeed by taking the almost-unheard-of journalistic high road. By telling of his early beginnings and how he and his family had to work hard for their achievements, you give your readers much insight. We learn that he is a complex person who has taken his love and enthusiasm for, and success in, martial arts and filmmaking and used them for the benefit of others.

Many thanks to Chuck Norris for being a great role model for our youngsters (and for those of us who are no longer youngsters). Children who have goals in life, as Norris seems to be encouraging them to have, are much more likely to be successful and happy in their lives. People who do that for children are fantastic in my book. As you can see, he didn't have to "beat my opinion out of me." Much success to you all.

Patricia C. Jones
Columbus, Georgia

Editor's Note: The following letter describes a situation of which all cigars smokers should be made aware.

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I hope that this letter finds you well. I am writing to you not as a member of the cigar industry, but as a private citizen who is very concerned about his individual freedom of choice.

For the last 10 months, I have been in negotiations with Nashville's new National Hockey League franchise, the Nashville Predators. The Predators organization had planned on placing a beautiful cigar lounge in the Nashville Arena as an amenity for its luxury suite and club-level suite season ticket holders. C.A.O. was to be the title sponsor for this project in the same manner as Holt's in the Core States Arena [in Philadelphia] and J.C. Newman in [Tampa's] Tropicana Fields. I became extremely impassioned with this project and was eager to bring a top-caliber cigar lounge to the Predators organization, and to the Nashville community as well.

My dreams were crushed, however, when on August 18, the Nashville Metro City Council rejected the bill that would allow this designated smoking area in the arena. On August 3, the council passed this bill on the second reading by a vote of 21 to 13. On the third and final reading, however, the bill was rejected by a vote of 20 to 17 in favor (we needed 21 votes for a majority to win). I had the displeasure of watching this vote on public television. The antismoking zealots were not only uninformed regarding cigar smoking but chose to remain uninformed as well. At one point during the vote, it was proposed that an individual who was present would be able to further explain the state-of-the-art ventilation system that would be placed in the cigar lounge. The council chose not to hear this testimony.

Councilman David Kleinfelter argued that cigar smoking was the wrong message to send to our youth. He stated that when Michael Jordan was seen smoking a victory cigar after the Bulls's recent championship win, "one of the cigar companies undoubtedly gave this cigar to Mr. Jordan in hopes of gaining free advertisement." Why do people refuse to accept the fact that perhaps Mr. Jordan enjoys the occasional cigar and that this was not an attempt by a cigar company for free advertising? Some months ago, Councilman Kleinfelter was quoted in The Tennessean as stating that "designating a cigar-smoking area in the Nashville Arena gives the wrong message; to have a room set aside where people can sit around and kill themselves is irresponsible on our part." While I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I believe that this statement was uncalled for, unrealistic and completely irresponsible.

Marvin, my disappointment in the smoking bill's being rejected is surpassed only by my fear that a small group of misinformed individuals is making decisions for my family and me as to what is good for our own well-being. Will coffee soon be prohibited because it contains caffeine, a known addictive substance? Does this send the wrong message to our youth? Where is our freedom of choice going? Prohibition failed years ago; however, I see a certain faction of our society that is determined to dictate what we can and cannot do.

I would strongly urge anyone who is concerned about freedom of choice and individual rights to stand up and be heard. We need to fight for our rights as hard as the antismoking faction is fighting to remove our right to make decisions for ourselves. I thank you for your consideration and continued support of the cigar-smoking public.

Jon A. Huber

Director of Promotions and Public Relations

C.A.O. International Inc.
Nashville, Tennessee

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I was spending a week with several friends in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the week was coming to a close. On this particular day everyone had decided to go snowmobiling, discouraged from skiing because of harsh weather conditions earlier that week. I decided to stay behind, and was rewarded by some great powder skiing through the Jackson Hole trees and slopes as a result of a surprise inch-an-hour snowfall.

When I got back to the cabin after a fantastic day on the slopes, I made the wonderful discovery that I had brought a cigar along for the trip (an Ashton). I was overjoyed because I had been unable to find any hand-rolled cigars in the little ski town and had forgotten that I had brought one from home.

After an hour in the sauna and a long shower, I pulled on my robe and got out the Ashton. The setting to enjoy my smoke could not have been better; the cabin was beautifully decorated. It had a vaulted ceiling over the sitting room, which was equipped with a two-story stone fireplace adorned with a lovely mounted elk head. I lit a fire, then turned the TV and phone off. I poured a glass of good Bourbon and got settled in a chair between the fireplace and the big picture window, which looked out on the mountains and valleys of Wyoming at sunset. I lit the cigar and took a puff, had some Bourbon, and enjoyed the tranquillity and beauty of the landscape and colors of the sky with a good cigar.

Thomas Moore
Charlotte, North Carolina

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