Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97
(continued from page 1)
It was a beautiful day as I left the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. I stopped at 4th Avenue and 4th Street and lit my cigar while waiting for the walk signal. A young lady, with lots of hardware drilled into her nose, looked at me and snarled "disgusting." As my blue cigar smoke swirled upward, bound for the ozone layer, the light changed. She stridently stomped into the intersection and was narrowly missed by a driver running the red light.
I am a practicing Catholic, a cigar smoker and a devotee, like Fr. H Jay Setter, of the French horn and chamber music.
Reading of his defense of cigars as not being a vice, I was reminded of a story that a cigar smoking priest of the Diocese of Tulsa, who is now in training for the Vatican diplomatic corps, told me. When he was a seminarian in Rome, he learned that Pius X, who was the pope from 1903 to 1914, called a bishop onto the carpet to reprimand him for his scandalous misbehavior with wine, women and song, and to correct his wrongs patiently.
The pope offered the errant bishop a cigar from the papal humidor on his desk. The bishop declined the offer with the protestation, "I do not have that vice, Your Holiness," to which His Holiness replied, "If cigars were a vice, I would not offer you one, for you have quite enough vices already."
After his death, Pope Pius X was canonized a saint and is now known as St. Pius X. According to Catholic belief, a saint is a holy person who is now in heaven. Although Pope Pius X may not have become St. Pius X because he smoked cigars, smoking cigars apparently did not keep him from being a holy man who is now in heaven. Indeed, cigars may have helped him be holy.
Let us salute not only Fr. H but also St. Pius X, whom we may regard as the patron saint of us cigar aficionados.
T. Gavin King
I used to know nothing of cigar smoking except for the fact that my dad smoked a hand-rolled cigar on occasion. My first real introduction to the experience was after I had become an officer in the military.
A few times a year the regiment would sit down to a mess dinner where one could give a moment of silence for our fallen comrades, reflect on the proud history and fine traditions of the regiment, enjoy an excellent meal, and be at ease with fellow officers while still being respectful of rank and position.
At the end of the meal, a steward would pass by, offering digestives, snuff, cigars and cigarettes to those who wanted. I took a cigar but soon realized that it was not of the quality my dad smoked, lacking the bouquet and flavor that I had remembered from his smoking. Noticing that some of the other officers had provided for their own cigars, I took it upon myself at that moment to educate myself properly and obtain a selection of fine hand-rolled cigars.
At the next mess dinner I arrived completely equipped and at the end of the dinner enjoyed a very good cigar. What I found particularly interesting was the amount of attention I suddenly received from others seated around me as I went through the process of clipping and lighting my cigar (an El Rey del Mundo lonsdale). By the end of the evening, I had interested two or three of my fellow officers to try cigar smoking themselves.
What we have all realized more than anything is that a cigar is completely at home in the officer's mess, as it complements the entire experience. It also provides yet another opportunity for the regiment's officers to sit together, enjoy each other's company and relate their adventures. Cigars have been a part of a soldier's kit for centuries and will continue to be so for many more. I am glad that I have taken up the hobby in moderation, and plan to enjoy cigars for many years to come. Your magazine is an excellent companion to a returning passion among people, and I salute your efforts.
Capt. Andrew B. Godefroy
I live in Japan and have been here for six years. It's a wonderful place to live and can be very exciting at times. But several weeks ago I was in a motorcycle accident in Tokyo. A car did a U-turn in front of me and I was unable to avoid him. I bounced off his rear end and went sliding for about 15 feet. I was properly attired for riding but ended up damaging my knee pretty badly, and my wonderful VFR750 was destroyed. I'm not quite sure which upset me more: my bike destroyed or me bleeding all over the pavement. I was rushed to a hospital, but this is a bad thing in Japan. Japanese hospitals don't really have a good reputation for providing the proper care, and as I can only speak Japanese at a basic level, it was a real problem.
I got to the hospital and was sent to surgery immediately. I was given local anesthesia, so I was awake during the operation. I can't begin to explain what was going through my head, laying there for over four hours as doctors and nurses were working on me, and me not being able to talk to them. It turned out that my kneecap was broken into two pieces and the surgeon put it back together with pins (it will be great fun walking through airport metal detectors). It could have been much worse than what it turned out to be. I felt I was lucky to be alive.
The following week in the hospital, my best friend, Dave, showed up with a couple of cigars (he lives in Tokyo as well). He wheeled me from the hospital to a nearby bench where we enjoyed a quiet moment smoking. The following week I was able to go home to my wife and children. Dave came over with his wife and we had a wonderful dinner and I decided that I wanted to celebrate the fact that I was alive.
Two years ago, Dave and I went to the "Dinner of the Century" party that you held in Paris. That in itself was an occasion to remember. I had saved the Cohiba A that was handed out there for a special occasion. It has been sitting in my humidor in perfect condition since then. I figured that this was the right time to enjoy the A. It was wonderful to be there, with my kids running around me, smoking the Cohiba A with my best friend, drinking Scotch until about 2 a.m., discussing the wonders of life.
Thanks for the cigar, Marvin.
It was earlier this summer when I lost a very close and dear friend in an airplane crash. He was what you could call my second father. I revered and respected the man as I do my own father. He was extremely successful in what he did and always pushed me to be the same. His passion for life, his wife and his two children was and still is indescribable. His passion for his friends was the same way; he would either give you 100 percent of his energy or nothing at all. Steve Ruma lived his life by one simple principle which he would repeat again and again: "That anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess!"
It is this simple edict that I will always remember Steve by, because this is how he lived: to excess. So when I was in my local cigar shop a few days ago and my tobacconist, Howie, said that he had one last Fuente Fuente Opus X double corona left, I told him I wanted it no matter the price, which happened to be over $20. At first I couldn't believe my luck; I had found the most sought-after cigar in the United States today. As I drove home I started to think, what is a 20-year-old college student doing buying $20 cigars? I remembered Steve, and knew he would have done the same thing if he had loved cigars. Steve would have, however, found a way to get the entire box. He taught me that if you have a passion, then that passion is worth pursuing with all of your energy and dedication. This is not so much about cigars as it is about not compromising for one minute what you love to do, just because it may cost $20. This Thanksgiving I'm going to sit down with my dad and smoke this beautiful Opus X and remember Steven Ruma the only way I know how: "to excess."
Christopher P. Williams
East Boothbay, Maine
Happy Thanksgiving! Words often spoken this time of year, but what do they mean? Today is Thanksgiving, and I'd like to tell you what those words mean to me.
I'm a security officer at a small college in upstate New York. Although campus is closed today for the holiday, I'm here working. Since it's so quiet, I have a few minutes to think, thumb through the new issue and reflect on fond memories while enjoying a Macanudo Cafe Cristal.
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