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Let me begin by stating, "I don't smoke; I never have." Then one day the president of our company allowed me to borrow the premier issue of your magazine; ever since he has promptly passed each issue along to me. I read each issue from cover to cover and have come to find cigars, as well as the magazine, fascinating.
My boyfriend smokes cigarettes and had never shown an interest in smoking cigars, but one day, while at the local mall, I took him to the Tinder Box, and we chose a cigar. Now, five months later, after reading your magazines, which I keep out, he is experimenting nightly with different cigars to choose his favorite. Every evening after dinner we sit back, and he lights a cigar, pours some brandy and has all the issues of Cigar Aficionado set out before him. This is truly my favorite time, and the highest quality of time that we spend together. I relax and enjoy the aroma of each cigar as he enjoys the smoke and describes to me the different flavors that he experiences. Who would have thought that choosing a cigar, and the anticipation of lighting each cigar would be as exciting as the anticipation of a sexual revelation.
Thank you for opening up a whole new world to both of us, one that has brought us closer together and has taught us to appreciate the fine art of smoking a cigar.
Kelly S. Ruenz
Clemmons, North Carolina

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Dear Marvin:
I'd like to express my appreciation to you for rescuing the self-image of the cigar smoker. While the uninformed masses may still recoil from the sight or aroma of my leafy passion, at least I am now secure in the knowledge that mine is not a solitary persecution.
Can't smoke in the house. Can't smoke at work. Hell, people even complain in the ballpark now. Lucky the man who finds a restaurant with cigar tolerance; blessed is the man who can then purchase one there!
Vigorous legislation and self-righteous carping have narrowed the venue of enjoyment to the golf course and that glorious hour in my yard astride the John Deere, when the mower's engine drowns out the disapproving "He's smoking another one of those dog turds!" Ah, the four-cycle sonata with a fine cigar!
I find I have to read your magazine in small portions. Properly rationed, I get more frequent reminders of what a good life this truly is, and conversely have time to recover from the disappointments of not being able to enjoy some of your published pleasure. When I was a lad, it was perusing the toy section of the Sears catalog at Christmas--now it's wondering what it would be like to smoke that vintage Cohiba in Paris. And what fun the Big Smoke must be! Not likely to find out in a town where a fresh cigar is only available by mail order.
Michael D. Washington
Rochester, New York

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Dear Marvin:
I thought you might appreciate this story. Recently I was attending the graduation of my youngest son at Harvard University. The event is held in Harvard Yard, and that particular day experienced the worst weather of Harvard's long history. My wife and I arrived early to obtain a vantage point where we could watch the procession of graduates. We were originally in the first row standing along the path. By the time the ceremonies began, we were in the sixth row of spectators as a result of the invasion of late arrivals forcing themselves in front and pushing us back.
I decided that one way to quell my nerves and possibly obtain some breathing space would be to light up a Te-Amo Churchill. Much to my wife's distress, I proceeded to do so, whereupon one of the late intruders turned to me and demanded that I "put that thing out." I responded that, to my knowledge, even in the People's Republic of Cambridge, it was permissible to smoke outside. This lady, and I use the term loosely, was further supported by her male companion, who threatened to punch me in the nose. I responded that it was my opinion that if he tried to resort to such action, it would result in much greater bodily harm to him than my fine cigar could possibly do, and further, that it had cost me approximately $100,000 to stand in the mud of Harvard Yard for this occasion, and I fully intended to continue enjoying my cigar. My retort must have had a sobering effect on him; he and his companion promptly moved away. To his credit, I must say that at the conclusion of the ceremonies he sought me out in the crowd and apologized.
I feel I made a small statement for the rights of cigar lovers, and I commend your publication for doing the same on a much broader scale.
Ernest C. Caggiano
Winthrop, Massachusetts

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Dear Marvin:
Your recent editorial concerning the smoking of cigars in the White House stirred up some old and valued memories. If the current occupants of the White House were familiar with the story I am about to tell, they might change their minds.
It concerns the late JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Strange as it may seem now, it is true.
I was a network news correspondent for ABC-TV at the time. I was in Washington trying to make arrangements to go to Guantánamo Bay--I would eventually get the assignment as pool correspondent. While waiting for my assignment to come through I was asked to back up Bill Lawrence, our White House correspondent.
At this point in time, Cuban cigars had become a rare commodity because they had been contraband since the Bay of Pigs fiasco. One of my favorite off-duty pastimes in New York, or any city to which I was assigned, was to wander about looking for small cigar stores in search of any leftover Cuban stock. Wandering along K Street one afternoon, I hit it lucky. I found 18 Por Larrañagas. They cost me a buck a piece--just about double their usual price. Not a bad buy. I figured ABC could afford it.
With my inside jacket pockets all plumped out with cigars--the feeling of them was comforting--I headed back to the White House. Back in the press room (a ridiculous arrangement of cubbyholes, each no wider than a phone booth), I sat back and lit up.
"Jesus Christ," Bill Lawrence calls out, "What do I smell?"
"What do you think you smell?"
"If I smell what I think I smell," he replies, "you've already made it to Cuba and back."
I give Lawrence the facts. If nothing else, Lawrence is a direct man. "Give me some!" he demands in his gravelly voice.
"No, Bill, remember your heart condition."
"Just two," he now pleads. "You won't be sorry."
How can I turn down this famous former New York Times reporter, a golfing partner of General Eisenhower and confidant of the current president? Easy, I think--but what the hell!
Bill grabs the two cigars, clutching them in his hand as if he were running the last leg of an Olympic mile relay and disappears in the direction of Pierre Salinger's office (the president's press secretary).
Lawrence reappears about 15 minutes later with a big grin on his beefy face.
"OK, you son of a bitch," I say, "how'd Salinger like 'em? I hope they did you some good."
"Oh, Pierre liked his fine, but the president is really enjoying his!"
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