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Dear Marvin,
My wife and I are in our 40s and have been married for 12 years. Approximately five years ago, we changed our routine when making love in bed. We light a candle, then bring a glass of wine and a fine cigar to bed with us. We sit (unclothed) on our bed and together we enjoy our cigar, wine and slow, wonderful foreplay. This can last up to 45 minutes before we really get to the serious part. This small change has made an enormous difference in our marriage and both of us can hardly wait until the next time when we start our ritual over again. My wife and I have shared cigars during disagreements and it always seems to defuse the situation, mainly because we sit next to each other while sharing. I really feel that if two people can find something as simple as this, couples would stay together longer.
Mike and Mary Adams
Irving, Texas

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Dear Marvin,
I had a beautiful day at work. But when I went to the post office to get a registered package, bang. The letter, although very nicely formulated, was what is known to be the fear of every part-time writer: a rejection slip. Thinking of Gertrude Stein and the numerous rejection slips she got before being recognized as a genius didn't help. I came home quite depressed. A question of ego, I suppose.
I tried to rid myself of my depression by eating dinner. Whatever was available without cooking: a can of sardines dumped on a plate, a piece of cheese sprinkled with sesame seeds, Cabaret crackers and a bottle of white Bordeaux. Even so, my depression got the better of me.
I decided to treat myself to a cigar. I thought of a dry one, a William Tell. Then I said to myself, "No. Tonight calls for a real cigar." I looked into my homemade humidor. An Ashton? No. It's too mild and I was too sour. Let's go for a Hoyo du Prince. I had not smoked one for months. Before lighting it, I went through my scrapbook and read your rating of it: "Decent, toasty aroma, flavors: cedar, sweet spices," and my own comment, "No band. Too long but nice. Gift of A."
I took refuge in my backyard. Picture this: An early evening of an extremely mild autumn night. Green grass covered with yellow maple leaves. No neighbors in sight. Quietness. Solitude. My blond cat sitting by me at the picnic table. And a great cigar--suddenly too short and very tasty--accompanied by a double Amaretto di Saronno--to counterbalance the cigar's aggressiveness. A perfect moment, as Simone de Beauvoir would have called it, notwithstanding my mood.
I'm writing to you as I listen to the piano compositions of Clara Schumann, feeling, at last, totally relaxed and proud of myself for having conquered adversity. Thanks to the time spent alone with Hoyo du Prince.
J.K. Belleau
Longueuil, Quebec

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Dear Marvin,
My mother, who is retired and lives in Canada, has friends in Cuba and speaks Spanish fluently. I often try to find creative ways to occupy her time and one of the things that I find works very well is to send her on vacations to exotic and warm destinations.
As you know, Canada does not have a trade embargo with Cuba, and over the past six or seven years I have often sent my mother there to visit with her friends on weeklong charter trips. In that I am an avid cigar smoker, I would also give her some cash and ask that she acquire as many cigars for me as possible.
This request served two purposes, the first of which was to allow her to feel as if she had a mission on her trip and that I was getting fair value in exchange for sending her there, and the second was that I would acquire some very good cigars at a reasonable price.
I have been sending my mother there about every three months, and on each trip she returns with a bag of wonderful cigars for me. But on a recent trip she did something that I simply must convey to you.
Canada only allows you to import two boxes or fifty cigars on any trip. While my mother was in Cuba, I received a garbled collect telephone call from an operator yelling at me in Spanish, with my mother's voice in the background prompting me to accept the call. She told me she couldn't stay long on the phone as she had to leave for the airport, but asked that I get two cases of the best vodka I could find and meet her at the airport when she arrived.
I did not understand the request, but she is my mother and off to the store I went. Twenty-four bottles of vodka are quite weighty so I used a shopping cart to lug them into the arrival area. After the flight arrived, my mother came flying out of customs in a frantic rush to find me (and the vodka). Then, as the other passengers began to come through customs, each greeted my mother and exchanged a box (in some cases two boxes) of cigars for a bottle of vodka.
In all, I think I acquired about 35 boxes of cigars.
My mother had bought as many boxes of Davidoff and Montecristo cigars as she could find and then distributed them among all the other passengers (who were all staying at the same hotel) that did not smoke, promising them each a bottle of vodka if they would bring them through customs in Toronto for her.
Over the years, I have obtained a very considerable surplus of some of the finest cigars in the world, and every time I sit down to smoke one, I am reminded of and thankful for my mother'screative streak.
Hillsboro Beach, Florida

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Dear Marvin,
I am a 24-year-old student in police sciences here in Montreal. I have never smoked cigarettes but I've been enjoying cigars for about eight years. For me, smoking a cigar is a special moment. I don't smoke just for the heck of it; I do it because I have something to celebrate. I must admit that over the years I have found all of the reasons in the world for smoking a good cigar. For example, the end of a hard day of work, the first snow of the season or my wife's beautiful eyes.
Recently, as you have heard, the population of Quebec had to decide if they wanted Quebec to separate from Canada or remain a province. Being a separatist myself, I was hoping to contribute to the birth of a new country. One of my reasons for voting "yes" was to stop needlessly paying for both federal and provincial departments that seemed to do the same job. (For example, the Canadian Justice Department and the Quebec Justice Department.) I think it is a total waste of money that could be used otherwise. Don't get me wrong here, I've always been proud to be a Canadian citizen; as a matter of fact, I am a former officer in the Canadian Navy. I just think that if there is a better way to spend our money, let's do it!
I met my wife, Deanna, in the service when we were both stationed on the west coast. Deanna comes from Ontario and speaks English; therefore, she was more inclined to vote for the Canadian unity, which is totally understandable. We respected each other's choice without any problem. Anyway, last October 30, I bought a cigar to celebrate a potential victory of the "yes" vote. I picked a Dominican--they are my favorite, as I prefer smooth cigars. I chose an Ashton Churchill. To my humble point of view, they are as great as my wife's eyes! As you know, the results of the vote were 50.6 percent for the "no" and 49.4 percent in favor of the separation. What a battle, wasn't it?
So in the end, it seemed that I had nothing to celebrate. My wife, on the other hand, pulled out an Arturo Fuente Double Chateau and lit it up with obvious satisfaction! (Cigar smoking is one of the many things we enjoy sharing.) Also being a former officer, it was as if she was celebrating her victory after a long battle! So there I was, in the living room, watching Deanna celebrating as I sat in utter disappointment! After all, there was no way I was going to smoke that cigar just for the heck of it. So after a few minutes, I lit up, deciding to celebrate the maturity of all voters, considering that nobody was hurt or killed for their allegiance. This was a reason worth celebrating, don't you think?
By the way, I just finished reading your Winter 1995/96 issue with Tom Selleck on the cover. My question is, who's the genius that said perfection is not of this world?! Long life to your work of art, Marvin!
Sylvain Dostie
Montreal, Quebec
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