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Mooching Cubans

Requesting Free Havanas Takes Stealth, Diplomacy and a Healthy Lack of Shame
Leslie Gelb
From the Print Edition:
Matt Dillon, Spring 96

He was smoking one cigarette after another. I knew my chance would come. He would make some remark, give me some opening, as the wind swept in from the desert across the palatial grounds.

"I apologize for this cough," the potentate said finally, interrupting our conversation about the international conference that my organization was soon to hold in his country.

"Please, no apology necessary," I answered casually. "I used to smoke three packs a day, and I've promised myself a return to cigarettes when I'm 75. But meantime, I've developed a love affair with cigars--Cuban cigars."

The trap was set.

"Ahmed, bring the cigars," the potentate broke in.

Ahmed appeared on the run with a two-foot-long tray of cigars, all sizes and shapes, and all Cuban: Cohibas, Montecristos and special brands, all hecho en Cuba, all made in heaven.

Then came step two in a master plan developed over several years of benefiting from the hospitality of Arab leaders and diplomats, of South American businessmen and officials. I peered into the tray, looking from left to right and right to left, and peered and peered. One must be patient.

"You do not like the selection?" inquired the generous host, predictably generous.

"The trouble is, I can't choose. I like them all," I said, springing the trap, my shame utterly under control.

"Take one for now, then take them all," he smiled knowingly, all too aware, yet happy in his gift.

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Comments   5 comment(s) January 24, 2012 2:56am ET

Thanks that was a real fun read

Don Wozniak — Joliet, Illinois, United States,  —  April 12, 2012 12:58pm ET


So, do you have any of those Cubans? By the way, have I told you how, not only are yours (Cubans)so much better than mine, but how fascinating your articles are? So well written, you sir are a genius.

David Savona April 12, 2012 3:52pm ET

One of my favorite articles from our archives.

Kenny Daniels May 20, 2012 9:42pm ET

I was in Canada a few hears ago and was able to purchase some cuban cigars. Tasty but not quite what I was told about.(?) I enjoy oliva or cao more. Explain please why this was or could be?

David Savona May 21, 2012 11:03am ET

People have different tastes Kenny, so your favorites might be Oliva or CAO cigars while this article's author (and many cigar aficionados) loves Cubans.

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