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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

(continued from page 3)

* * *

Dear Marvin,

My wife and I just came back from our annual Caribbean cruise. As is my habit, we went above deck at 10 p.m. every night, enjoying the warm Caribbean night as I lit up my Partagas No. 1. One night a young lady pulled up a lounge chair after I had lit up. A few minutes went by and the stranger announced, "I think it is so rude to smoke cigars in a public place." This in the midst of several trillion cubic feet of air to dissipate my offending smoke. I calmly replied that one of the greatest things about being an American was the right to express one's opinion, no matter how stupid. She calmly explained she was not American. I noted that this was a bitter blow for our country. The cigar remained lit, and she left.

Marvin, normally I try to take into account the feelings and rights of others. But on the high seas, in international waters, in, literally, international airspace? Enough, already.

Marc M. Jarkow
Seattle, Washington

* * *

Dear Marvin,

Years ago, the Army used to have a monthly event called Dining In. All the officers of a command, usually a battalion, would assemble in their blue uniforms for a formal dinner and cigars afterward. All topics of conversation relating to duty were forbidden. It was an opportunity for the commanding officer to observe his subordinates in a social setting and note their social skills. After years of attending these monthly events, it was an old colonel who confided to me that the cigars were not for smoking but for judgments.

The colonel explained that the way a man smoked or did not smoke his cigar spoke volumes about his personality. If he declined the cigar, it showed he was afraid to speak up. If he made a big fuss over it, he was deemed to be an ass kisser. If he let the ashes spill all over the place, unmindful and careless. If he chewed it, he was giving notice he wanted to be seen as tough. If he sat and enjoyed it without comment, he was content to sit back when things were going well; if he gestured with it, theatrical. If he let it go out, it showed he couldn't sustain. Holding it unlighted showed he wanted to be part of the group but not in all aspects. Blowing smoke rings occasionally meant he had a sense of humor. All of this observed behavior was melded to what was already observed, and it could determine whether the officer would be mentored for greater responsibility.

Was it of value? In any old-boy network, there are rules. You can make it to lieutenant colonel on your own merit and excellent work. But to make it to full bull and beyond, you need friends. Friends who invariably smoke cigars.

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