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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Winston Churchill, Autumn 93

(continued from page 1)

Peter Iacangelo
Calabasas, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

As I stood in line at U.S. Customs behind my brother-in-law on the return leg of a recent trip to Belgium, each of us with a fine box of Cuban cigars hidden beneath several boxes of chocolates, my brother-in-law turned to me and whispered, "If they ask me if I have any tobacco, I'm going to tell them about the cigars." "Fine," I quietly replied, "just let me go through first!"

Mark Fierro
Fort Lee, New Jersey

P.S. I made it through and didn't look back.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Though I'm a Franciscan brother who has taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, I must admit that I enjoy the wonderful pleasure of after dinner smoke. My mom bought me a subscription to your magazine. In fact, some of the pages have perused the pages a bit since a few of your articles have been about places where we have missions and friars stationed. Though I am not able to smoke in the monastery, I do occasionally get to enjoy a Davidoff or a Macanudo courtesy of my mother or brother at Christmas and Easter. I just want you to know what a fine companion to a good cigar your magazine makes. As St. Francis was heard to say regarding the joys and wonders of God's creation: Pax et Bonum for bringing the joy of fine reading and the fragrance of a fine cigar into the lives of cigar smokers everywhere.

Brother Rick Wilson
T.D.R. Franciscan
Washington, D.C.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Like you, I am concerned with the misconceptions about cigar smokers. The stereotypical, obnoxious cigar-chomping lout is not the norm, and the health risks are minimal (I rarely smoke more than one a day and never more than three). The benefits of a leaf well rolled are one of life's genuine pleasures and are to be savored and lingered over by gentlemen.

Regarding your editorial in the Summer issue, I find the first lady's ban on smoking in the White House portends to other issues. Political Correctness is the New Intolerance. I have never smoked cigarettes, but when the White House targets the cigarette industry, I am moved to buy a pack of Camels. The Clintons need to remember that we are the descendants of the people who tossed the tea into Boston Harbor. We do not elect presidents "who know what's best for us." And, if we do, only once.

W.L. Ripley
Knob Noster, Missouri

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a born-again Christian. WAIT! Since realizing I'm not good enough to get to heaven without accepting it as a free and underserved gift from a loving God, I have had trouble reconciling the things I enjoy with the way other Christians interpret the Bible.

I have always felt that God intends us to enjoy life. There are many things which He clearly detests, but not all things enjoyed by humans are to be banned. Some Christians have a way of tossing anything that brings a little pleasure into the trash with the more clearly forbidden fruits. They are my brothers and sisters and I credit them for their convictions. However, I do not agree with those siblings in Christ who strive to make the "narrow path" even more narrow than God intended.

For example, many Christians believe that alcohol, in and of itself, and in any form, is forbidden by God. I believe that drinking a nice glass of wine with dinner is showing respect and enjoyment for a gift from above, while downing a bottle of wine to get drunk is clearly an abuse. (The Bible does indicate that we should abstain from drunkenness and all forms of overindulgence.)

This is a great analogy to describe the way I feel about smoking long last.

Smoking cigars moderately is a great way to relax and ponder issues, watch a sunset, read. write, enjoy fellowship with good friends and yes, even pray to the One who makes it all possible. (Granted, I don't know how many points I have scored for my well-intentioned prayer: "Lord, thank you for this perfectly aged cigar and please bless H. Upmann for making it.")

Just last week, my wife and I had a couple from our Sunday school class over for dinner. After a nice dinner, the husband and I went out onto the balcony to smoke a cigar (our wives were invited, but, sadly, they declined). My friend and I spent more than an hour in easy conversation while experiencing a delicious smoke. We talked about how great life was, our super wives, our mutual friends, the taste of fine cigars and the joy of knowing that God is in charge of the whole thing.

I bet He was smiling, don't you? (Maybe he even blessed H. Upmann.)

Michael Insalaco
Fresno, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

As an avid cigar smoker, I wanted to first thank you for your creation of CIGAR AFICIONADO. As a subscriber, I have enjoyed every issue so far. I also had the good fortune to participate in the Big Smoke on May 17, 1993, and I found it to be most enlightening. Normally, I would never consider writing to editors of any major publication, because I would doubt their ability to be truly responsive, but in reading your last issue, I decided to try anyway.

At only 28 and a licensed member of several state bars and federal courts, I find myself to be very fortunate in life at a very early age. As an African-American, I take personal satisfaction in knowing what hard work an diligence will do for a person. Unfortunately, when I attended the Big Smoke in May, I found myself in what appeared to be a distinct disadvantage. I found that on numerous occasions when I approached the various vendor, wanting to sample their wares (as did everyone else), the vendors were polite but not particularly responsive to any inquiry or comment by me. While I watched other individuals approach the various cigar tables and receive more than the specified allotment for each customer time and time again, I was given the standard promotional cigar and sent on my way.

Having been treated like this before at various cigar stores, I always assumed it was because of my youthful appearance. But on that evening I was with a friend who is the same age as I, but is not African-American. After commenting to him about my observations, we both observed that the treatment he and others like him received was clearly different than mine. For example, when I inquired at one table about the proper temperature and humidity levels for aging my cigars in the summer, rather than assuming I just might be the proud owner of a Savinelli humidor (which, by the way, does contain at least one "special cigar") the gentleman assumed that I did not even own a humidor and that I must store my cigars in the refrigerator. Even recalling this now makes me burst out in laughter, even though this was just one of many similar occurrences that evening.

On the upswing, there were at least two times when my appearance was not a detriment. Specifically, when I was on line to receive my La Gloria Cubana Torpedo No. 1. After getting to the head of the line, I saw that the Latin gentleman rolling the cigars was of color like myself. Upon seeing me (one of only a handful of African-Americans there that evening), he nodded his head and with a wink of approval, proceeded to roll a slightly longer and thicker gauge cigar than the others. The other time was a similar encounter at the Nat Sherman table with a salesman named Sam, who was so pleased to see a "fresh young face" that he commented as such and proceeded to go out of his way to accommodate me and my associate.

I have written this letter not to complain or whine about the facts of life, but instead to remind those in the world, that as cigars come in all ages, shapes and colors, so do its connoisseurs. To those who have determined that because someone may not appear to be either famous or an older big businessman worthy of "favored treatment," let me say that there will be at least two businesses that will always have my patronage.

Richard R. White
Assistant District Attorney
New York, New York

Editor's Response: All of us who read your letter will think about what you wrote. Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts with us. We hope that at this November's Big Smoke you and all African-Americans who attend will be treated no differently than anyone else.

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