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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
maduro issue, Winter 93/94

(continued from page 13)

Keep up the otherwise great work you're doing with CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Steve Vavagiakis
New York, New York

Editor's Response: All cigar smokers, including President Clinton, need to stand up for their rights. I never said he was a wimp, but he should carve out a space for his pleasures. Moreover, there wasn't one word of Hillary-bashing in my column; she is a hard-working professional. We just happen to disagree on our attitudes toward cigars, and civilized people in a democracy should be able to disagree.

I can't say I agree with your characterization of the White House as a museum. It is a thriving, vibrant home to our nation's leader and his family. Many presidents before him smoked cigars and the house is still intact. Let's keep it for the people ... all the people, including cigar smokers.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I'm a classical-music D.J., the music director for a fine-arts radio station here in Pensacola, Florida, and a longtime lover of cigars. One of the things about being on the radio is the constant surprise I encounter when I meet listeners. Announcers never look like what people imagine. It's axiomatic and a source of amusement for most of us in this business. But to that is the added surprise people always show when I appear with a partially smoked Hoyo de Monterrey Excaliber No. 1 in hand.

I always allow my cigars to go out at a certain point, and then I just savor the taste and aroma such a good smoke has even when it's no longer lighted. One of the comments I often get is: "you know, smoking those things will shorten your life." My answer to these good and well-meaning folks is to cite the list of well-known personalities who smoke or have smoked cigars well into their 90s. Many, of course, are master musicians, the most notable being Arthur Rubinstein, who wrote lovingly in his autobiography about his acquisition of a taste for cigars as a young man.

I was visited for the summer by my college-age nephew. He arrived with a carton of mentholated, very thin cigarettes and a nervous promise that he would only smoke them on the front porch. I said that would be fine and that I always smoked a cigar there myself in the evening. He looked startled and said with polite chagrin that he really hated the smell of cigars. He was surprised when I replied that I was in sympathy with his feelings inasmuch as I detest the smell of cigarettes. We agreed to put up with each other's tastes and share the evening smoke together.

After a few evenings, he told me that he actually liked the smell of my Hoyos. I suggested it was perhaps the first time he'd encountered a fine cigar, that perhaps the cigars he'd been exposed to before were badly made. On impulse, I offered him one of mine, sharing with him the whole ritual of the experience we all know so well. That was the first of many evenings spent there, talking about cigars and cigar making, the result of which has left my nephew a confirmed admirer of the craft and art of cigars. He no longer smokes cigarettes. Instead, with his limited student's resources, he enjoys one excellent though modestly priced cigar per day. He's become a bit of a chauvinist though: he only smokes cigars from Honduras.

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