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I am a 27-year-old graduate student in political science at a midsized campus in central Illinois. I have been smoking cigars for over 10 years, and I love them. They soothe and relax me and bring me lots of joy, even when the burdens of school and work start to bear down. I just wish Iwan Ries & Co. and the Up-Down Cigar Shop were in Bloomington!
I am writing to tell you that I support your fight for cigar smokers' rights. As a political consultant, I am dismayed that I, among others in my profession, are not allowed to smoke in most areas. The days of smoke-filled rooms are, alas, coming to an end. I would prefer not to spend my life subjugated to standing outdoors or being forced into exile to enjoy my cigars. Many of my mentors in life have been cigar smokers, and they are respected professionals. They, too, are forced out, due to the concerns of those who feel they need to protect everyone from our "dangerous" habit.
As a courteous smoker who asks before I light up, even in places where smoking is allowed, I urge you not to give up. I will help fight the battles here; I know you'll help us win the war.
Brian A. Bernardoni
Bloomington, Illinois

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Dear Marvin,
The first law of cigar smoking: Always carry an extra, just in case. One evening I was rear-ended by one of our vehicularly inept. Coming home the following night, I was enjoying one of my favorite cigars (a Cuban Cohiba) when I was stopped by a Houston police officer. He pointed out my broken taillight and began to recite the rules and regulations for properly covering a broken taillight. I pleaded my case, but to no avail. When he returned with my license (and my ticket) he noticed the aroma of my cigar. When he found out that I was smoking a Cohiba, he began a lengthy speech about how he loved cigars; how his grand-father loved them and blah, blah, blah.
In midsentence he ceased his filibuster and gazed down at me (through his standard-issue Foster Grants) with the cool assuredness of someone who knew something that I did not. As he casually rapped his fingertips on the hood of my car, I suddenly realized what he wanted--my last Cohiba.
That bastard!!! How dare he ask for my last cigar! Sure, the ticket is going to cost me 80 bucks, but dammit, I have my principles! So I mustered up my courage and did the only thing I could do--I gave him the cigar, and all was forgotten. I drove home thinking I needed an amendment to my first law of cigar smoking: Always carry an extra, just in case--but make sure it's a cheap one.
Shaun Lang
Houston, Texas

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Dear Marvin,
I am a 26-year-old out-of-work pilot, making a living as a fast-food restaurant manager. My restaurant sits about a half mile off runway 10 of a busy Chicagoland airport, and believe me, for someone who is as passionate about flying as I am, there is nothing more frustrating than watching beautiful aircraft fly overhead while plastering a fake smile on my face for an irate customer who feels they didn't get enough cheese on their taco. But luckily for me I have another passion--cigars. My drive home each evening takes 45 minutes, precisely the amount of time it takes for me to smoke a Macanudo Prince Phillip (my cigar of choice). Nothing in the world can wipe out a miserable day at work like a good smoke. And nothing can prepare me for an agonizing day like the anticipation of a fine cigarfor the ride home.
James M. Holder
Naperville, Illinois

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Dear Marvin,
The members of the Resolve Through Sharing program in the intensive care nursery at Good Samaritan Hospital and Phoenix Children's Hospital wish to thank the editors and all of the people who responded (many of them anonymously) to a letter in the Summer issue of your magazine. The letter mentioned our need for small, attractive wooden boxes and suggested that readers donate their cigar boxes. The response has been overwhelming. To date we've received over 500 boxes. We will be sharing some of the boxes with other RTS programs in the Phoenix area.
We use the boxes as containers for keepsakes given to the parents of infants who die at the hospital. We place in them items such as footprints, photos, blankets and small stuffed animals, which are often the only tangible reminders the families will have of their child.
The boxes we received are beautiful and an ideal size. Our volunteers decorate the box covers, allowing us to incorporate names, dates and footprints, creating a remembrance for the parents to keep forever.
Today's news is filled with the horrible, unthinking things that people do to one another. I know that those people are in the minority, but they often reach the public notice. It is very gratifying to know there are so many willing to go out of their way to share resources, time, expense and empathy with strangers in their time of need. Your readers are proof that there are many good people in this country. I am grateful to have come in contact with citizens from all over the United States who have responded so unselfishly to our needs.
Patricia Reynolds
Phoenix, Arizona
Editor's response: Thank you for your kind letter. I also want to thank the readers of Cigar Aficionado. If you can keep using the boxes, we'll keep sending them. Here is the address again for anyone interested in sending boxes: Patricia A. Reynolds, R.N., 11041 North 41st Place, Phoenix, Arizona 85028.

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Dear Marvin,
My 5'8", buxom, model-gorgeous blonde girlfriend is smoking a beautiful Havana cigar. There is a story behind her cigar. It is the story of love and destiny--two things I didn't have the greatest belief in before I met Lisa.
I now believe that I am one of the most fortunate guys in the world. As of fall 1994, I would never have made such a statement. Although I was only 30 years old, I had already amassed what I now consider a long and impressive list of sad accomplishments: many miserable years of studying in higher education, several years of endless workdays and worknights in one of the largest and most oppressive (i.e., prestigious) law firms in Manhattan, one marriage, one divorce, type I juvenile diabetes, an increasingly life-threatening drinking habit, a string of meaningless relationships--I think you get my drift. Despite the high-end culture that all my hard-earned money could afford, I had become a personification of the colloquialism "Money can't buy happiness."
On paper, I was esteemed as a role model; in reality, I was miserable. I was alive, but clearly not appreciating the very joy and gift of life itself.
About this time last fall while I was dwelling in emotional bankruptcy, my firm offered to send me up to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to recruit some students who would graduate soon. Although it was only for the day, any excuse to get out of "The Firm" was a welcome one (I hadn't taken a vacation in over 18 months).
I interviewed 25 students in one day --individually, one after the other. My allotted 30-minute lunch break quickly dwindled to 15 minutes; I went to a sandwich shop in Collegetown, and as luck (or destiny) would have it, I ended up sharing a table with an elderly Cornell professor.
For 15 minutes, the professor and I had quite a fascinating exchange. He was a rocket scientist, conversant in over a dozen languages, extraordinarily well-traveled, and to quote his business card, a "Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, Condensed-Matter Physics, Kinetic Theory Applied Mathematics, Astrophysics"! He is also a world-renowned expert on quantum mechanics!
Needless to say, the professor was quite a conversationalist. One thing led to another and he began to describe his gorgeous daughter who lives in Manhattan. He didn't come out and say it, but I gathered he was inviting me to ask him for his daughter's name and phone number to look her up upon my return to New York City. Despite having my mouth full of food the entire 15 minutes, I guess I still managed to make a favorable impression upon the old man. However, at the time I was dating enough women to support a healthy addiction to alcohol, Tylenol and Ibuprofin and had no desire to pursue another anytime soon. Upon my abrupt departure, the professor and I exchanged business cards. I was starting to leave when he exclaimed, "You know, David, I'm not a very religious man, but I do believe many events in life are destiny, and our chance meeting could be such an event."
As I was in a hurry, that last statement (as well as many before) went temporarily over my head; so, I merely responded, "Yeah, me, too. Nice meeting you, Professor," and I sped off to return to the interviewing.
About six weeks later, holed up in a hotel room on business somewhere in the Midwest and overwhelmed with my usual boredom and insomnia, I discovered the professor's business card tucked away in my wallet.
If curiosity killed the cat, then it very well may be my doom someday as well. The professor's dissertation on "destiny" was ringing in my ears and I became intent on meeting his daughter regardless of the consequences of previous blind dates. Swearing off blind dates after every disappointment is much like the alcoholic's daily exclamation to never drink again--if you are cursed with an insatiable appetite, there's just no resisting.
I wrote a letter that evening (or morning as the case may be) to the professor, professing my own views on destiny and, at long last, asking for his permission and approval to contact his daughter.
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