Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Claudia Schiffer, Jul/Aug 97
(continued from page 5)
Although I sort of understand the point Mr. Washington was trying to make in his letter to you in the Winter 1996/97 issue, I was extremely upset with his line of thinking. Mr. Washington is right to say that some of our personal freedoms have been infringed upon, but his weak attempt to explain borders on being offensive. The example he uses are common of "ditto-head" thinkers. His comment about South African diamonds upsetting the "apartheid-aware diners" is a slap in the face to all those people in South Africa who struggled for a simple thing: human rights. As for drinking and driving, maybe Mr. Washington should talk to the family who lost a loved one because "someone" was exercising his personal freedom by getting wasted at a bar and driving home in his BMW. I certainly hope that Mr. Washington, or anyone for that matter, doesn't really believe that all the prohibitions in his letter are the pleasures in life. Does anyone?
Don't get me wrong; I do enjoy the fine things in life, but before I do I have to ask myself: "At what cost?" All too often we put a monetary value on success, and all too often we are wrong. There is nothing wrong with having money or being well off, but when we disregard the people and world around us, our personal happiness is cheapened. While in college, I supported myself by working at a restaurant for the well-to-do. Night after night I gave excellent service to guests who thought they could treat me any way they wanted because they had lots of money. There wasn't any respect for me or the people around them. Does a fur coat from an endangered Siberian tiger really improve your lot in life? Does it make you a better person socially? Does "individual freedom" mean we can trample on the rights of others? At what expense are you having fun, Mr. Washington?
Marvin, as a subscriber, I have enjoyed your magazine for the past couple of years and have been smoking cigars since 1992. My "best" cigar is not an Opus X or a Cuban, although both are very good. My best cigars are the ones I associate with the best times in my life: fishing with my uncles, camping with my buddies, weddings, dinner parties. In part, celebrations of life. Looking back on my college days, I remember sitting on the balcony of my fraternity house and talking with my Pike brothers about the endless possibilities that our lives held for us. Now in my late twenties, I work for an organization that is dedicated to saving rare animals from extinction. My income is modest, but I enjoy my work and the feeling that comes from knowing that I am doing something for the benefit of all. From time to time I visit used bookstores for less expensive novels. The covers may be a bit bent or dusty, but the story enchants me just the same as in a new book. The beer I drink may not be microbrewed, but the people I drink with are what's important to me. This is the "wealth" I have accumulated. This is my success. This is my pursuit of happiness.
I guess what it boils down to is respect. When I do smoke my cigars, I try to be aware of those around me. There is a simple phrase that I have found that will work wonders: Mind if I smoke? Nine times out of 10, no one minds. People just want to be acknowledged. Lighting up without asking is rude. Period. Once I do smoke, it is amazing how many want to try one, even my female friends!
Mr. Washington is right to not want to lose his individual freedoms. We all have our own pursuit of happiness, each differ-ent and unique. We should all take pleasure in living life deliberately. But maybe when he, and others like him, start respecting the individuals around him, they will start enjoying themselves even more.
Finally, Marvin, cigars are a celebration of the fine things in life. For me this includes great literature and wonderful music. Please include more of these topics in your upcoming issues. Your magazine is a celebration of the cigar. Cigar smokers are a diverse people. Let your magazine celebrate that diversity.
I am 67 years old and have enjoyed cigars since I was in my mid-20s. In that time my appreciation of the elements of a good cigar have evolved from plastic-tipped drugstore imitation cigars to finely constructed, hand-rolled, quality smokes. In my high middle-income professional years, I always enjoyed the best cigars I could afford (without bringing down the wrath of my wife). Now, in my third year of retirement, my fixed income coincides with the insanity of runaway prices on cigars. My regular everyday favorites, Santa Rosa Quatros, have doubled in price in almost a box-to-box time period.
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