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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Groucho Marx, Spring 93

Dear Marvin:

One of my friends was in a custom shirt maker's shop in New York. While waiting to be helped, he lit up a fine Dominican cigar. Immediately, the sales lady demanded he put it out. He could not "indulge in such a nasty habit" in the shop. The proprietor happened to overhear the order and broke in, "Ignore her. Here let me offer you a light." Just at that moment, a white stretch limo pulled up out front. Sylvester Stallone strolled in puffing a foot long import. Nothing more was said.

Whatever happened to the days of service? Shopping in an exclusive gentleman's establishment should mean a comfortable chair, an adult beverage or cup of coffee and yes, damn it, an ashtray.

Leo Dowell
Winston-Salem, North Carolina

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Although my schedule is hectic, I still find time to read and I am looking forward to reading CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Sincerely,

Bill Clinton
Washington, D.C.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

My wife and I have three children and have been married for 20 years (truly married, much like tobaccos are). We do everything together. About ten years ago) we started drinking wine together for my wife's health. This year my wife's physician told her that she needed to smoke a cigarette occasionally to calm her nerves. Although we learned how to drink moderately without any problems, I thought that smoking would be too big a challenge, so we put the idea off and searched for better solutions. The other alternatives included taking medication daily, but since my wife is only 37 years old, it seemed that we should put that off also.

Finally, for some unknown reason we found ourselves standing in front of the tobacco section of a local supermarket, and I said, "Let's smoke some of these small cigars." We laughed at the idea, bought them and enjoyed them (last June, 1992).

Since then we have found a world of enjoyment in trying the many different premium cigars that are available here in the U.S. Our family and friends are surprised to see both of us smoking cigars (especially my wife), but we feel that they don't know what they are missing. Strangely enough we feel that we are members of a special class.

 

Lately we have been feeling other things too; one afternoon we were smoking some Arturo Fuente robustos (we use our CIGAR AFICIONADO as a cigar smoker's handbook), and I remarked to my wife that this cigar was making me feel amorous. Of course she laughed and said that I was just making excuses. Well, recently we purchased some La Gloria Cubana robustos and she not only told me that she felt amorous while we were smoking, but also described the event to one of her girlfriends, who wanted to borrow one for herself and husband to share.

It may not be a good idea to publish this. If the birth control people got wind of it they too would want to ban cigar smoking.

Yours truly,

Ed Sams
Dallas, Texas

Editor's Response: I'll tell you a secret. Just reading your letter was a turn on. But let's keep this to ourselves. If the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) catches wind of the side effects from cigars, they might try to classify them as aphrodisiacs.

* * *

Dear Mr. Shanken:

President Fidel Castro has asked me to thank you in his name for sending the first issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Perhaps the possibility for a meeting with President Castro exists during one of your next visits to our country.

I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for the superior quality of the new magazine, for which we are pleased to pass along our best wishes.

Attentively,

Dr. José M. Miyar Barreuco
Secretary of the Council of State
Havana, Cuba

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Please reevaluate the number of women cigar smokers. I bet there are a surprising number of women in my age group partaking in this wonderful luxury. I am a 28-year-old, fairly successful executive in the entertainment industry. I have been enjoying cigars for more than half my life. Oh yes, Marvin, I am a woman.

My work allows me to travel, so I have been fortunate enough to be able to obtain the cigar of my choice. I prefer Cohibas.

No one would have the balls to stop me from smoking my cigar in my home. I own my own house, and if someone doesn't like my cigar smoke, he is free to leave. All summer I go to restaurants with outside cafes, so I can enjoy my cigar after dinner.

I only date men who have enough good taste to appreciate my cigars.

Joyce
New York, New York

[The writer asked us to withhold her full name and title.]

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I have an idea for you, inspired by the scented magazines I get: How about advertising cigar brands with a flap that you open to smell the cigar the way perfume companies do? Then your whole magazine would have that nice aroma.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Neil McCaffrey III

Editor's Response: I have such a negative attitude toward magazines with all those horrible perfume smells. I consider the "perfuming of magazines" an invasion of privacy. Many times, the smell is so strong I can't even hold the magazine in my hand. Shame on publishers for accepting perfumed ads. CIGAR AFICIONADO will never abuse its readers with "scratch and smell" ads.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Back in 1967 I drove to Montreal with a couple of friends to go to the exposition. It was very enjoyable, but the highlight of the trip was going to the Cuban pavilion. I remember it being quite large, and the aroma made it seem like I was in the largest humidor in the world. This place probably did more business than all of the other pavilions combined. I was in heaven. The rarity of an American seeing an H. Upmann was so exciting. In those days, if I remember correctly, a box of Cuban cigars was selling in the pavilion for around $20. I bought ten boxes of different brands and decided to surprise my father. He always used to tell me how great Cuban cigars were. I took the panels out of the trunk of my car (1965 LeMans) and hid the cigar boxes, then replaced the panels. My friends thought I was crazy and decided we would all go to jail. When we drove home to New York we, of course, stopped at United States Customs. The agent asked me if I had anything to declare, and I said no. He then asked whether I had anything from the Cuban pavilion, and I said no. The agent then asked me to get out of the car and open the trunk. I thought I would die. I opened the trunk, the agent looked around and told me I could leave. With a sigh I drove off to New York where I surprised my father, and for many months we both enjoyed those cigars like two babies. He also wanted to kill me for what I did but it was well worth it and I would do it all over again.

I miss those cigars. Hopefully someday we once again will be able to smoke them--but this time, legally.

Sincerely Yours,

Alan Vogel
New York, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Last summer I was out for a drive with my convertible top down and was stopped at a red light. A lady pulled up next to me who was also in a convertible with the top down. I noticed that she was staring at me out of the comer of my eye so I turned to look at her. Her comment was, "Do you have to smoke that smelly thing with the top down?" I kinda chuckled to myself and just turned my head so I was looking straight ahead and drove off after the light changed.

Lou Custidero
Herndon, Virginia

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Kudos on your latest literary success. As someone fairly new to the cigar oppression so prevalent in today's society, I really enjoyed David Shaw's article "Where Can I Smoke in Peace?" (Vol. 1 No. 1).

My own story begins after dinner with friends at a good restaurant. Just coming back from a foreign country, my good friend and I were very eager to enjoy the Cohibas I had with me. No sooner did we get the match lit when we were approached by the maître d' and informed that we would have to smoke the cigars in the lounge. We had no problem with this and quickly put them out. After the maître d' left, the still-not-satisfied person sitting several feet away came over and told us he had a glass of water with our names on it. At this point, we shook our heads, apologized and made a quick retreat to the lounge.

As a person who shares a kinship of discrimination, please continue to list cigar friendly restaurants. I know I will patronize these places and encourage all cigar smokers to do the same.

James A. Nicholson
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Editor's Response: You're right on the money., Please note that in this issue on pages 122 to 128, we list over 360 restaurants around the world that are cigar friendly. We encourage all our readers to patronize these establishments. And please, by all means, mention you found the restaurant listed in CIGAR AFICIONADO.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I thought Jim Gordon's article about me was entertaining and had some good cigar info, but I would like to set the record straight about a few things: I do not have a picture of George Bush that I throw darts at; in fact, I do not even have a picture of him at all. And despite any previous source, I have never had an interest in cocaine, nor have I ever experimented with it. Apocalypse Now was made all on my own--personal madness without any help.

Sincerely,

Francis Ford Coppola
San Francisco, California

Editor's Response: CIGAR AFICIONADO apologizes if there were any errors in the story. However, in an interview five years ago, the writer Jim Gordon observed the dart-throwing at a picture of George Bush. And, in a published interview two years ago in Rolling Stone, Mr. Coppola was quoted as saying he tried cocaine three times.

* * *

Dear Marvin.

The following excerpt from The Idiot, by Dostoevsky, shows that harassment of cigar smokers is not a new phenomenon. The narrator, a retired general, recounts how he dealt with a particularly aggressive objection to his cigar.

Two years ago--yes, nearly two, just after the opening of the new X. railway--I was already in civilian dress then and busy about an affair of great importance in connection with my giving up the service. I took a first-class ticket, went in, sat down and began to smoke... Just before the whistle sounded, two ladies with a lap-dog seated themselves just opposite me. They were late. One of them was dressed in gorgeous style with a cape. They were nice-looking, had a disdainful air, and talked English. I took no notice, of course, and went on smoking. I did hesitate, but I went on smoking close to the window, for the window was open. The lap-dog was lying on the pale blue lady's knee. It was a tiny creature no bigger than my fist, black with white paws, quite a curiosity. It had a silver collar with a motto on it. I did nothing. But I noticed the ladies seemed annoyed, at my cigar no doubt. One of them stared at me through her tortoise-shell lorgnette. I did nothing again, for they said nothing. If they'd said anything, warned me, asked me--there is such a thing as language after all! But they were silent....

Suddenly, without the slightest preface--I assure you, without the slightest, as though she had suddenly taken leave of her senses--the pale blue one snatched the cigar out of my hand and flung it out the window.

The train was racing along. I gazed at her aghast. A savage woman, yes, positively a woman of quite a savage type, yet plump comfortable-looking, tall fair woman, with rosy cheeks (too rosy, in fact). Her eyes glared at me. Without uttering a word and with extraordinary courtesy, the most perfect, the most refined courtesy, I delicately picked up the lap-dog by the collar in two fingers and flung it out the window after the cigar! It uttered one squeal. The train was still racing on.

Best of luck with the new magazine!

David Brown
New Canaan, Connecticut

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Congratulations on launching your new publication! Your premier issue was professional, slick and nicely balanced in its content. However, your attitude toward lady cigar smokers is inexcusable.

You introduce your publication is different from "other men's magazines" and then devote much space to the presumption that since most vocal cigar haters are women, all women must dislike cigars. Not so!

I smoked my first cigar ten years ago at a college graduation party given by my father--so did several sorority sisters--and I have never looked back to my former cigarette habit.

Although I am petit and considered cute and cuddly, I enjoy full-flavored cigars from Honduras and Nicaragua. The men I have dated in recent years are predominantly nonsmokers but they are considerate of my preference for fine cigars and even consider it alluring when I light up and puff.

If friends and associates who are nonsmokers can be tolerant and even appreciative of a lady's taste for the finer things, why can't you? I realize that most of your audience is male, wealthy and mature, and that you must cater to your customer's preferences. I assure you, however, that they won't mind if you recognize those cigar lovers who are female or less affluent or younger--or all three!

Individual tastes differ as much in one gender as the other so give us some recognition in your editorials, personality profiles and advertisements. We will reward you with additional subscribers and customers for your advertisers.

Sincerely,

Genie B.
New Hartford, New York

Editor's Response: I think I'm getting a bum rap. The facts are simple. Most cigar smokers are men. Most cigar complainers are women. Further, to date, better than 98 percent of CIGAR AFICIONADO's subscribers are men. But that doesn't mean I don't welcome more women readers or smokers. Welcome aboard. I only wish there were more women smokers and fewer women cigar complainers.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a 52-year-old family man with an income well below the middle class level. I do however enjoy a good cigar. I have wanted to subscribe to your magazine with such a desire that I agreed to forego lunch out and brown bag it. My wife, who keeps us on a budget, was very surprised that I would make such a commitment and submit so completely to something. There are so few real quality things today. Sitting and reading your magazine while enjoying a fine cigar makes me feel like a millionaire. If it means no lunch out for a while, then I gladly give up that for the comfort CIGAR AFICIONADO brings to a man from South Central Los Angeles.

Dennis Jackson
Los Angeles, California

Editor's Response: Your "brown-bagging" should not go unrewarded. A special present is in the mail, compliments of CIGAR AFICIONADO. Enjoy.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I am a student at the University of Montana, and I enjoy a good cigar from time to time. Ever since I first read your article in the February 1992 issue of The Wine Spectator I have wanted to get my hands on a Cuban cigar. The article that you wrote was very intriguing. It has made me want to buy your magazine and it also made me want to do something about the embargo on Cuban cigars. I think it is an atrocity that I can't get a Cuban cigar in this country. To me, this embargo is dated, because the cold war is over.

I would like to know if there is a list of congressmen who are interested in the cause of lifting the embargo, so I can write to them. I think it is an important issue that needs to be put to a vote--for myself and all other readers of this magazine--so that someday we as cigar smokers can have the pleasure of smoking a beautiful Havana cigar without having to go abroad to do so. Hopefully, with the support from all the readers of this magazine, we can accomplish the task of getting the embargo on Cuba lifted.

Sincerely yours,

David Crowley
Political Science Major
University of Montana

Editor's Response: I don't understand the justification for continuing the Cuban embargo either. We do business with all our former enemies and adversaries. It seems to me that in the days of a "New World Order," the U.S. government should be finding other ways to influence Castro's decisions. In fact, the American hard-line plays right into Castro's hands by making us the scapegoats for all his internal problems. By all means, write your Congressmen, your local newspaper editors or anybody who has a voice and can exert some Pressure on Washington and our new president Bill Clinton.

* * *

Dear Marvin,

 

What kind of cigars does David Letterman smoke?

Sincerely,

Anita Countee
San Francisco, California

Editor's Response: When David Letterman is smoking--and he frequently stops for short periods of time--he enjoys Hoyo de Monterrey Excaliburs from Honduras and Davidoffs and Avos from the Dominican Republic. But he's in cigar heaven when friends manage to get him Romeo y Julietas from Cuba.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

My 50th birthday....

I'm back in our London hotel room finishing a Cohiba Esplendido, drinking Rémy Martin VSOP.

It's late--we've just come from a late dinner at Bibendum. It was great!

Janet has purchased a Tireman ashtray as a birthday memento.

I think of CIGAR AFICIONADO as I ponder my next 50 years. I have never seen a magazine which was read cover to cover by more people.

I can't tell you the number of phone calls I received commenting on my very short note you printed in the premier issue.

I think of my past 50 years--cigars have always been there--starting with Gold Labels, moving to Bering, then Macanudo, Partagas, Dunhill and now Cohiba.

The one thing I know after tonight: I want to spend the future enjoying evenings like this, including a Cuban in my hand.

Perhaps with the high income of your readership, some kind of lobbying effort could be started to make it possible for Cuban cigars to be sold in the U.S.

After all, we trade with almost all of the world despots and dictators already!

The people of Cuba perhaps would be better off, and rather than a bloody revolution, a peaceful conversion to democracy in Cuba could be accomplished. I'm ready to help, should such an effort be started.

I cannot wait for the next issue--even if it is frustrating not to be able to try many of the cigars you review.

Many, many years of health and success!

Tom Evans Jr.
Managing Director, Bear Stearns
Chicago, Illinois

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I loved the articles on Cuban and Dominican cigars. They made me think of the first Cuban cigar I ever smoked. It was somewhere in the Caribbean in 1980 (I won't say where). I was on a cruise ship that docked at one place that reportedly had a very good tobacconist there.

Needless to say, I found this place and while looking around, I saw what appeared to he a box of Cuban cigars in the humidor. I asked the sales girl there if they were the real thing (I won't even say what brand). "YES SIR" she said, they were the real thing,

"Well how much are they?" I asked.

"They are umpteen thousand dollars," she said (I forget really how much, but they weren't cheap).

"I'll take a box," I said.

"You can't take them back to the U.S.," she pointed out.

"I know, but I want them anyway!"

I waited until I got back on the ship to smoke one, as I was going to lay back and enjoy this. I remembered about a year earlier, at the Tinder Box back in Raleigh one night, we were talking about Cuban cigars, and one guy who worked there said: "You know, Cuban cigars are over-rated, they aren't any better than the ones I sell right here." I couldn't say anything then because I'd never tried one, but I was about to find out. I got myself a glass of champagne and walked out on the aft deck. It was a gorgeous Caribbean sunset: There was a gentle, warm breeze blowing across the deck and in the distance, I could hear a steel band playing across the harbor from where the ship was docked. Best of all, I had about five acres of wide-open lido deck all to myself.

I pulled up a deck chair, propped my feet up on the rail and lit that communist cigar up. Let me tell you, I wanted to defect right then. "Fidel, you lucky son of a gun," I said out loud, "those guys at the Tinder Box have never smoked one of these!" I hate this anti-Cuban attitude our government has--perhaps that will change soon. I have never had any more Cuban cigars since then, but I will someday and if I don't, I will remember my first one for the rest of my life.

It's late now and I must go, but I just had to say thank you in some way for such a fine magazine. I think I shall enjoy CIGAR AFICIONADO for quite some time.

Frank Mann
Raleigh, North Carolina

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I would first like to say congratulations on the best damn magazine in the world! I am writing to let you know that I'm a prisoner and enjoyed your premier issue, in fact, I have already read it from cover to cover three times, and since I got the issue I refer back to it everyday about something. I would also like to tell you that I'm on a fixed income of $83 a month: $15.60 for prison labor and the rest from V.A. disability for war injuries in Vietnam (I served with the 82nd Airborne and the 173rd Airborne in '68 and '69).

What I would like to say is that I like your magazine so much that I have given up Playboy and will subscribe to CIGAR AFICIONADO! That should tell you what I think of your magazine. I love a good cigar. I buy from a local shop in Las Cruces here, and I spend all the money I save on them. I like Macanudos, Partagas #1 and many others, but your articles about Cuban cigars had my mouth watering, and if you guys are sitting around smoking Cohibas, or any Cuban cigars, I sure would appreciate just to sample one. Or if you should have a Davidoff Special R I would be ever so grateful and would be in your debt forever!

As I said, I make $15.60 from prison labor, and I will spend that on a one-year subscription, and I just wonder how many of you cigar lovers would spend a month's salary on a cigar publication. If you're not willing then I say you don't love cigars.

Marvin, I hope Santa is good to me this year. I'm looking forward to my December issue. You can bill me for it. I have my $12.95 eagerly waiting for you.

Sincerely,

Frank A. Hawkins #33533
Las Cruces, New Mexico

* * *

Dear Marvin:

One thing I noticed in the letters to the editor published in your premier issue that surprised me a lot: some of your readers say "I was buying my weekly cigar box.... "For me a cigar you just buy is not immediately smokable, unless it has been stored in a humidor, out of its box or in an open box. First, such a cigar is probably too young, mostly because cigar stores do not maintain large stocks. Secondly, it may be too dry, as most cigars are wrapped with cellophane and boxed.

I keep about a six month supply in a cool place, just to age them and soften their taste. Then, two to three months before smoking them, I carefully remove the cellophane and put them in a humidor. The best bet would be to put each brand in a different humidor to avoid mixing their tastes. It takes ten to 15 days for the necessary humidity to penetrate to the core and be even. I think my method allows me to extract the maximum pleasure from each cigar.

Wishing the greatest success to CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Etienne Couteaux
Paris, France

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I would like to humbly suggest a new column that would address cigar-related questions.

Presently I have three of my own:

1. Should I wet down my cigar before I smoke?
2. How are Maduro cigars made?
3. Of all cigars smoked today, what are the most popular sizes?

Sincerely,

Jim Collins
Vienna, Virginia

Editor's Response: Good questions. 1) Never. Modern cigar manufacturing techniques make moistening the outer rapper unnecessary. 2) Maduro means ripe. As such, Maduro cigar wrappers are exposed in the sun longer, or are sweated longer in a tobacco-curing barn to achieve their dark, oily appearance and add a slightly sweet taste . 3) In America, smokers' preferences focus on the corona sizes. In Europe, you see more panatella or grand panatellas, which are a little thicker.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Thanks for a great magazine. Even we part-time cigar lovers appreciate its style and quality.

Joe Mantegna
Toluca Lake, California

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