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As I sit here, pondering the words I am about to etch onto this page, I am humbled by the simplicity of the issues that make us friends and the fine line that makes one an enemy.
Two evenings ago, I sat in the bar of the Tropicana in San José del Cabo, Mexico, drinking a poorly made 1800 Margarita and smoking a Montecristo No.4. It was my third Cuervo following four Pacificos earlier in the afternoon, thus allowing my mind to settle in with these Baja surroundings. Diane (my wife) was spending most of the burning moments with our Cuban masterpiece, and it caught someone's eye.
Her name was Denise, a transplanted born-again local from Canada with enchanting turquoise blue eyes whose sole purpose that night was to point us in the right direction and then make sure we got there safely. Drawn over by the cigar, she said that anyone smoking a Montecristo would be interested in the best that San José had to offer. Indeed we were. The evening that followed was quite the local sightseeing, barhopping tour. First night in town, being introduced to all the locals and touring their favorite hangouts, who was going to argue with this? All the while being chauffeured by Joseph, Denise's fun-loving expatriate mate.
New friends drawn together by a Montecristo. It seems so unlikely, and yet it is so common for something so simple to have a meaningful effect on people. Lines across the earth; who rules the heavens; who deserves to exist unmolested based on their heritage. None of the above should separate people, and in reality just a cigar should not forge a friendship. But it does.
Bill Updyke
Pacific Palisades, California

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Dear Marvin,
Both my husband and I have been reading this magazine for the past year, and we both appreciate the taste of a good cigar or pipe from time to time. We also both appreciate the articles you publish.
In reading the responses to the Spring 1995 India Allen article, I am frankly appalled. I have read from women who claim that they do all they can to educate their families, but will not allow them to appreciate art. I have read from gentlemen who cannot appreciate form for what it is. I am only sorry that these people are so narrow-minded and bigoted as to blind their senses to the art portrayed by Ms. Allen. In the beginning of the article, it blatantly advertised her former publication credits. At this time, anyone who did not wish to read this article should either have removed the appropriate pages or turned past them to the next article.
I am shocked at the ignorance of individuals who cannot appreciate the beauty of the human body as portrayed by God, Monet, Gauguin and other master artists, past and present. I also sincerely hope that these individuals never have the opportunity to visit an art museum, as I do not wish to have their senses offended or to have some of history's most treasured monuments removed by the same mentality that authorized book burning for the sight of "that word" or "that attitude" toward other people.
I can only hope that Cigar Aficionado keeps up its high standard of articles so that my husband and I can continue to appreciate the caliber of writing that we have become accustomed to.
Rebecca I. Penney
North York, Ontario Canada

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Dear Marvin,
One of the most overlooked discriminations against cigar smokers is in the area of insurance. It is truly an outrage. Just about all insurance companies charge cigar and pipe smokers the same life insurance rates as they do cigarette smokers. They just lump everyone together. I even know of an insurance company that gives a nonsmoker discount for auto insurance--AUTO INSURANCE!
I suppose that they're afraid someone will fall asleep at the wheel while smoking and set their car on fire. Who knows, then they're liable to hit someone else and set their car ablaze.
What nonsense!
Generally, the insurance industry has a serious perception problem regarding smokers. They not only raise the bogus health issues concerning cigar smokers, but perceive smokers, on the whole, as irresponsible. Nationally, this misconception costs cigar smokers millions.
This past April, I spent one of the most enjoyable evenings of my life at the famous Bookbinder's 15th Street Seafood House in Philadelphia. The occasion was a cigar and spirits dinner presented by J.R. Cigars. Hosts Richard Bookbinder and J.R. Cigars owners Michael and Sam Driban provided a truly memorable evening.
I sat at a table with some of the most intelligent and articulate gentlemen and their wives that I have ever met. It struck me that I was sitting with anything but irresponsible people. Through our conversation, I discovered that these gentlemen were all physicians and surgeons at one of Philadelphia's finest hospitals. These were very responsible people, indeed. As I watched them enjoy their cigars, it pretty much put the health issue to rest as well.
I love cigars and I love cigar smokers! I urge all cigar smokers not to deal with insurance companies that blatantly discriminate against you. Only do business with agents and brokers who will give you the best deals on all your coverage as a smoker.
Besides, just think of all the extra cigars you can buy with the savings.
Brian Johnson, Agent O'Neill Insurance Agency
Voorhees, New Jersey
Editor's response: I'm also outraged by the discriminatory policies of insurance companies. There is simply no justification for them to lump cigar smokers into the same categories as cigarette smokers. There are some companies, however, that continue to treat cigar lovers equitably. Please check out our survey of some major life insurance companies on page 334.

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Dear Marvin,
I first smoked a cigar during the summer of 1985. I was working for a private club in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, when I saw a waitress bring the chef a $1.00 cigar from the front; I thought it would be cool to try one.
About a year ago, my family bought a liquor store in Covina, California, and my father, brother and I have been running it. Shortly after we bought the store, a very prominent attorney began to frequent the store and request certain cigars. Through talking with him, I've learned a little about cigars, mostly that you can enjoy them on a daily basis. Garcia y Vega maduros quickly became my favorite everyday smoke.
A few months ago, the attorney came in and said he had tried a Partagas Humitube at a smoker and asked if I could carry them. He was very pleased when I called him a few days later and told him his cigars were in. He knew that I had an interest, so he very generously gave me one to try. Needless to say, I bought a box for myself and when I want to treat myself that's what I choose.
Like everyone else who enjoys a good smoke, I too have been scrutinized by nonsmokers about my newfound pleasure, especially by the women I've dated. Now, however, I've finally found the perfect woman. A couple of weeks ago, she came to my apartment after I closed the store. I'd had a particularly frustrating day, so I grabbed a Partagas Humitube and a glass of Crown Royal and went down to the Jacuzzi. This gem of a woman grabbed the bottle and followed me down. I eased into the Jacuzzi and lit my cigar. After we talked a bit she swiveled around to sit on my lap and took my cigar and gave it a try. My God, that was the most beautiful sight ever. For the next hour, we made love under the stars while sharing great whiskey and a wonderful cigar. That night I knew I was in love.
David Ludlow
Covina, California Return to this Issue's Contents
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