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Imagine my fiancé's relief when on our first date, he asked if I minded if he lit up. I said, "Hey no problem, I'll join you," and we both shared a great smoke (Hoyo de Monterrey Sultans).
After a busy day at the office and that three-hour commute, I really appreciate the relaxation and solitude I experience from lighting up a fine cigar. And in response to that doubting Thomas who wrote that letter: Hey, I might not own my own humidor, but I'm a female cigar smoker and proud of it!
Editor's note: Got the message, Mr. Gordon? Above is a small sampling of the many letters we received on this subject. As we said in the very beginning of this magazine, we think that it's great that our cigar smoking community is growing, and all are welcome into our community.
On Feb. 18, 1987, my beloved parents were killed in an automobile accident on the Atlantic City Expressway in New Jersey. I was required to inspect the towed wreckage of their car for any personal belongings I might wish to keep. In the trunk I found my dad's last Macanudo Portofino. He mostly smoked inexpensive cigars but kept the Portofino around for special occasions.
Despite the intense grief I experienced at the time, I managed to hold onto that cigar, and vowed that when my first child was born, I would smoke it and make a toast to Dad. Unfortunately, I was single at the time with no prospects.
Three years later I met a wonderful lady and we were married in 1991. On Nov. 9, 1994, my son, Andrew, was born at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. After ensuring that mom and baby were resting comfortably, I took that cigar out onto the hospital lawn--you can't smoke in any hospital these days. It was evening, quite dark, and quiet. I smoked that Portofino, and was overcome with sadness at the thought that my dad would never see this beautiful thing that had just been created, his first grandson. I cried like a baby.
I have tried many cigars since that moment, but for some reason, I prefer Macanudo Portofinos. I like to think that it's because of the mild, consistent taste. Or maybe it's my love of things Jamaican. But somewhere in there is the link to my father and his memory, the father-son continuum. I think of my dad whenever I smoke one, even feel like him. For this I am grateful. He was a great guy, and I miss him every day.
Lawrence E. Ginsberg, M.D.
I am a traveling businessman from Atlanta, Georgia, and I wanted to share an experience that I had. While awaiting my flight in the Fort Lauderdale Airport, I went to the airport lounge and found a small corner table to sit down and enjoy a smoke while reading my new issue of Cigar Aficionado. The lounge was three-fourths full of people. I opened my briefcase and pulled out my traveling cigar box, which contained several different brands of cigars that I had purchased from a Miami tobacco shop. I pulled out an Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1 and sniffed it as I slipped the wrapper off. I then noticed that a gentleman from a few tables away approached me and asked me what brand of cigar I had in my hand. We talked about cigars for a moment and then a second gentleman from the same table came up and started talking about cigars. A few minutes later, two more gentlemen joined the group to talk about their cigar experiences. A few tables away was a woman sitting alone who saw me showing off all of my recently purchased cigars. She got my attention and asked me if I knew about the JFK humidor. Since I had just finished reading about the humidor in your Summer 1996 issue, I told her all about the humidor's history, original cost, etc. Then a man from another table in the lounge turned to me and said, "Which actor gave the humidor to JFK?", and I told him that it was Milton Berle. Within five minutes I had captured the attention of so many people in the lounge that I immediately got the urge to write this letter for your other readers.
My point is this: cigar smokers seem to be in their own fraternity. I have met many people in the past few months since I became a regular cigar smoker. This pastime is definitely a great way to start conversations or meet people, and I'm glad that cigar smoking is getting so popular. Many business people, especially salespeople, go to cocktail parties and other social events to seek out "potential prospects." Well, now you don't have to attend these events anymore. Just pull out a large cigar (double coronas are great) and you will gather attention for sure. And since a cigar can now be considered a business tool, I wonder if I can include this item on my expense reimbursement report! That would be wonderful, but I don't think that my company is going to buy that one.
At my office, I have a large cigar box with a Credo in it that sits on top of my desk (I don't have a humidor yet although I am looking for a nice-sized one.) I usually have a few cigars in this box and I am amazed at the amount of people that come by my desk just to "peek inside." I love the look on people's faces when I show them the real big ones like 54 ring Churchills or presidentes. It is definitely a big thrill.
On Friday of last week, some friends and I stopped to have a drink and smoke a few fine cigars. On this night we chose a "gentlemen's club." In Austin, these clubs are very receptive to cigar smokers. In fact, I feel very comfortable with a big 50-plus cigar at these places. Despite their bad reputations, we Texans conduct quite a lot of business in these clubs. This night proved to be a disaster (but not for me).
Upon entering, we were greeted in the usual manner. We were given a private table in a VIP section (the only way to go). The table next to us was empty. We took our places and ordered our first round. It was not long before all of us were puffing away passionately on our various cigars (we all have different tastes) and that the unoccupied table next to us became occupied. To this we paid no attention.
What happened next was every cigar smoker's worst nightmare. While in the middle of a smooth draw on my Arturo Fuente Classic, a hand tapped me on the shoulder. An angry looking guy with a cigarette in his mouth asked if we could put out our awful smelling cigars. He claimed the smoke was causing him to choke! I was shocked. I was beside myself with wonder. "Excuse me," I retorted, "is that not a smoke-exuding instrument in your mouth?" He became aggressive and threatened to harm me if we did not take immediate action. He then stood up (along with his three burly comrades). I remained seated. "Would you care to smoke one?" I asked. I then held out a Classic to him. He swatted it away like a fly. I was steaming at this time. This man (I am not exaggerating) then began to roll up his sleeves. It was then that my friend recommended we find another table.
That was not necessary, because the club's doormen (bouncers) grabbed this ape and escorted him and his friends to the door, refusing them entry to the club ever again. We were then given a round of free drinks and our choice of cigars from the club's private humidor. It turns out that the manager is an avid cigar smoker and took it upon himself to fight for our rights as smokers. For that, I am thankful.
David M. Kennedy
I was disappointed to read the letter in the Summer 1996 issue from our friend in Pennsylvania regarding his being rated for smoking cigars with Allstate. Although it is good information for your readers to know which companies are rating smokers in this manner, I was disappointed that he did not mention his current carrier.
I would like your readers to know that my primary company for writing business is Massachusetts Mutual Life out of Springfield, Massachusetts. Mass Mutual is one of the few that do not penalize us cigar smokers at the present time by throwing us into the same class as cigarette smokers. This company does, however, keep a user of any type of tobacco product from obtaining its preferred rate, but this is still a considerable advantage over those that rate cigar smokers with cigarette smokers.
Robert Littlefield III
Editor's note: Massachusetts Mutual was one of a number of insurance companies noted for their cigar friendly policies in an article on life insurance for cigar smokers in our Autumn 1995 issue, page 334.
Cigar Aficionado is a very smooth, full-bodied magazine with a rich earthiness, and a pleasant sweetness that has a strong, lingering finish. I rate it a 97. Keep it coming.
Layne J. Albert