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Whenever I enter a restaurant and the question is asked, "Smoking or non-smoking?"--my answer is "I'll take smoking." It's a better class of people.

Just one small gesture for those of us who truly know how to live.

Michael Sirianni
Deltona, Florida


Dear Marvin,

Four women in a BMW sedan pull up in front of a restaurant. The parking valet is at the driver's door before it comes to a complete stop and informs the driver that she will have to park across the street in an unlit lot. "It's our policy to reserve our closest spaces for domestic cars, in support of American labor."

Arriving at the front door of the establishment, they are met by the Protocol Manager.

"Ladies, I'll have to ask you to go home, shower and shampoo with fragrance-free soaps, change your outfits, return without perfume or makeup, and park again across the street."

To answer the stunned looks on four faces, he explains:

"Some of our customers are sensitive or allergic to certain smells. They find perfume, cologne, hair spray, powders and creams to be offensive. The leather belts, shoes and purses are an obvious affront to our strict vegetarian and animal rights clientele, and quite frankly, I find the rest of your outfits visually objectionable. If any of your diamonds originated in South Africa, please leave them home, too, so as to not upset our apartheid-aware diners."

Four showers and two hours later, the women reach the lobby of the restaurant, where they are escorted one at a time to the house doctor's office to be weighed and have their blood pressure checked. "We don't want to be liable for feeding someone who shouldn't be eating our food."

Finally, they reach the dining room. They are approached first by the wine steward, who informs them that based on current standards, they will each be allowed two servings of alcohol. "Except for the driver, of course. We don't want any accidents, now, do we?"

Next, the waitress provides menus. In bold letters, the carte du jour advises, "No high-cholesterol meats. No artery-clogging sauces. No cheese. No butter or sour cream. No salt. No fattening desserts. No caffeine. No wine or sherry used in food preparation. No fried foods. No imported foods. No seconds. To your health!"

When the waitress serves the meals, she instructs, "Please pay and leave immediately upon completion, so as to not inconvenience our next customers, or our staff."

Ludicrous? Preposterous? Well, it's already happening. Similar rationale is used by anti-smoking zealots. On one side is individual freedom and pleasure. On the other side is everybody who seems to know what's best for me, and they find my pursuit of happiness offensive. Maybe they just can't stand to see anyone having more fun than they are.

Michael D. Washington
Rochester, New York


Dear Marvin,

I just finished reading your "Final Thoughts" in the August issue of your newsletter, Cigar Insider, and I wanted to say, "How right you are!" The relaxation afforded me by my cigar on the golf course is worth several strokes a round; at the same time, a bad smoke may cost me two or three strokes just from its distractions.

In fact, I think that your statement about the perfect relationship between cigars and golf can go even deeper. Many rounds of golf I remember distinctly by both the event and the cigar I enjoyed on the course: Pinehurst Number 2 and a Cohiba Esplendido; Royal Dornoch and a Montecristo No. 2; the Ocean Course and an Avo Pyramide; Troon North and a Partagas 150 Robusto; at my home club (Lake Hickory Country Club) with some cigar smoking buddies and an Opus X; the Old Course at St. Andrews and a Punch Punch; or Muirfield and a Romeo y Julieta Corona. Indeed, the smoke is as much part of the memory as the round, or the company. I can still smell the grass, azaleas and the La Flor de Cano that I smoked at Augusta National during the Masters last spring--and not one person among the crowd even looked at me sideways.

When I think of all the other times and places that a cigar would have added to a memory, it makes me sad that cigar smoking is looked down upon by so many. And how glad I am that having a good wine or other drink isn't frowned on in the same way (yet). Here's hoping things will change for the better.

Frank A. "Sandy" Porter
Hickory, North Carolina


Dear Marvin,

I have a great cigar smoking story from New York City. I was in New York for a business trip. After having dinner with my colleagues and my boss, Julio, at a Cuban restaurant near our hotel, I felt like topping the evening with a Cuban tradition--a fine cigar. Of course, being in a New York restaurant I couldn't smoke there, so I walked the few blocks to the front of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to smoke my cigar. I was leaning against the hotel, smoking a smooth Belinda double corona while watching a crowd around some street performers. I was waiting to see some pickpocketing. I enjoy the sport of people-watching on a nice summer night. Talk about a prime spot for watching strange and interesting people pass by! With all there is to see in Times Square, people still stared at me because I was smoking my cigar.

Well, as I'm puffing away, a huge police motorcade comes up 45th Street. The motorcycle cops stop the traffic on Broadway and people start rushing to the intersection. I figure, Who could it be? The president? Been there, done that! I work in D.C.; I ain't moving to see him again--I'm relaxed now. Then I re-member seeing on the news that Bubba Clinton is still in D.C. OK, maybe the mayor, Rudy Guiliani. I can walk to the corner to see a big-shot pisan.

I stand down the street a little, away from the crowd. Finally, the procession gets to Times Square and I see a big van with the Coca-Cola symbol, and then I see the word: Olympic. Holy Sh!!! It's the Olympic torch relay!! The van goes by and then I see an old lady walking with the torch. People start cheering, and she is waving and smiling. It was fantastic! I felt a wave of enthusiasm and began to start clapping furiously. The moment made me long for an opportunity to cheer the U.S.A. Olympic team in person. Wow! It must be unreal to feel that at the Games.

I thought to myself, "See, great things happen when one smokes a cigar." If it wasn't for my desire to finish off a long day with a relaxing cigar, I would not have been at that corner to see such a wonderful symbol. Also, I have to thank the strict no smoking laws in New York or I would have been inside somewhere with my Belinda.

Wayne Pestone
Falls Church, Virginia


Dear Marvin,

I'm a 36-year-old ex-bodybuilder who has never smoked, and have lived a very healthy life. My wife and I have been together for 13 years and she is my best friend. Recently, I was introduced to cigar smoking by a very good friend, who explained that a good cigar is about relaxation and a way to escape the hectic world we live in. He also explained the great tradition behind a good cigar, and since I'm a Cuban American who came to the United States with my parents in the early 1960s, I decided it would be a good idea to try it, and a good way of getting close to my Cuban roots.

I told my wife about it and we decided to go to a local cigar shop near our home. I picked up a Churchill-sized cigar for me, and I talked my wife into getting one for her. To my surprise she agreed, and I selected a petit corona for her. Thanks to the knowledge I've acquired reading a couple of issues of your magazine, I was able to choose the right cigar and ask questions without being embarrassed. When we got home we opened a bottle of wine and we started to enjoy our cigars. I could not believe what I've been missing. It was like learning how to ride a bicycle for the first time. I've read some of the letters from your male readers about them being the luckiest men in the world because their wives enjoy cigar smoking. Well, you will not believe what happened next. Forty minutes into our cigars, my wife's is gone, and she is asking for mine, which is three-fourths of the way gone. Not only did she ask for my cigar, but she didn't want to give it back. Our night ended with unbelievable hours of lovemaking. So what does that make me in the ranks of being lucky?

Issac Katz
Miami, Florida


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