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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Linda Evangelista, Autumn 95

Dear Marvin,

I am a police officer in Southern California. Approximately two years ago, I was forced to shoot and kill a mentally deranged woman who was attacking my partner with a knife. The incident, which lasted only a few minutes, finally concluded last month after a jury found that my actions were justified. The two years between the shooting and the civil trial (I was sued by the woman's son) were stress-filled, but were also filled with an outpouring of emotional support from my family, fellow officers and many citizens, most of whom were complete strangers.

One of the many things which made the past two years bearable was what I would like to call the "Brotherhood of the Cigar." Many a night on patrol found a lull in the action, which was then filled by myself and several of my fellow officers sharing cigars, usually La Unica 100s or Cuba Aliados robustos, with an occasional La Gloria Cubana (whenever we could find them). Those times allowed me to talk about the incident, which tremendously lessened the stress I felt. More often than not our impromptu "therapy" sessions were ended by an urgent call for service, usually a shooting or stabbing.

Another stress reliever was being able to attend several cigar dinners sponsored by one of the local tobacco shops. To be able to spend an evening in the company of others enjoying a fine dinner, fine wines and more than satisfactory cigars, conversing about simple pleasures, was "just what the doctor ordered." In fact, one of the jurors in my trial was dismissed by the other side because he had met me at one of the dinners.

Another benefit from those nights was the start of a great friendship with the proprietor of the sponsoring shop, a fellow former Marine named Odell "Smitty" Smith. Many a time I would go into his shop to purchase my weekly supply of cigars, only to spend an enjoyable hour just talking. His understanding, compassion and support was, and is, a priceless commodity.

It did not take the jury long to deliberate and conclude that I had no other option that spring night in protecting a fallen officer. Immediately after the verdict, I called my wife with the good news. The second thing I did was to go to a fast food drive through, buy lunch and go to Smitty's store. I gave Smitty the news, ate my lunch and then purchased a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1. That was the best smoke I'd had in two years! There isn't a better celebration than a cigar smoked in the company of a good soul.

Darryl George Wood
Oceanside, California

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I am a 24-year-old gay man who lives in New York City. I began smoking cigars when a professor of mine at New York University handed them out to celebrate the birth of his baby boy. I was 19 at the time, and my five-year cigar smoking journey has been one of the most exciting and rewarding adventures of my life.

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