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Out of the Humidor

(continued from page 14)

In celebration of my 50th birthday, my lovely wife, Jane, surprised me with a trip to Italy. While in Rome, on Saturday evening the night before Easter, Jane (my wife is no fool, she bought tickets for two) and I entered a quaint café for a cappuccino and a lemoncello cordial. We were having a splendid time, enjoying the rich history and abundant art of this ancient city, but for one hitch: I had no cigars. I found myself craving a good smoke and, not knowing where to find one, especially at 11:45 p.m., resigned myself to an evening unfulfilled and frustrated. Jane, however, scoped out the place and immediately spotted an Italian man, perhaps in his late 60s, puffing away on a corona. Wasting no time, I asked him if he purchased the cigar nearby. Fortunately for me, his friend interpreted my question, as he spoke no English and I little Italian. The answer was a disappointing "no." I thanked him and as we turned to walk away, the friend said the man would like to know if I would like to have a cigar. My broad grin serving as a universal affirmative, he held out a box, opened it to reveal his last cigar, and gestured for me to take it. Shaking my head, I motioned that I couldn't possibly take his last cigar. Determined that I have it, he sternly gestured again that I take it. I did. He would have no part of accepting my offers to pay for it or to buy him a drink. As I lit the cigar, our eyes met, his as if to say, "I hope you enjoy it," and mine replying, "Thank you for your kindness." I shall never forget the encounter.

Roy E. Corso
Parkland, Florida


Dear Marvin,

First of all, I'd like to start off by saying that although this is a fish story, it's not a fish story. A couple of friends and myself were out salmon fishing on the Sacramento River in my boat. We had been there for a couple of hours with no luck, so I decided to enjoy a dark beer and one of my prized Arturo Fuente 8-5-8s.

As any good cigar does, mine brought me luck within about 20 minutes. My fishing rod went down, I sat my beer down, placed my cigar in my mouth and started fighting the fish. Life was good!

For a minute. As I fought the fish, I pulled back hard on my rod. Too hard. I brought up the rod right into the end of my cigar. Of course, the line got in the way and...Bink! Fish gone. Well, as if losing the fish and tackle set wasn't bad enough, have you ever tried smoking a fine cigar with monofilament fishing line mixed in? Don't. This really wreaks havoc on the taste.

Well, I'm not one to give up easily, even though my buddies were needling me something terrible, so I rigged up my fishing rod and cast out again. I then tried to knock off as much of the melted plastic as I could from the end of my cigar. I managed to accomplish this and had just started enjoying the smoke when my rod went down again! I grabbed my rod and began to fight the fish. This time I attempted to put my cigar down, but as I did it slipped and went overboard!

Well, this fish story kind of ends on a happy note. When I reeled the fish to the boat, I came to the end of my line. Wrapped around my hook was some fishing line! One of my buddies pulled the line in by hand and it was the same fish that had cost me my cigar. Twice!

Well, I guess vengeance is nice. But honestly, I would rather have my 8-5-8 back.

Tony Garofalo
Colusa, California


Dear Marvin,

I have read numerous stories from "Out of the Humidor" from men praising their lovely wives or girlfriends for sharing, or at the very least tolerating, their cigar smoking. I was particularly touched by the times a cigar played a role in their meeting the loves of their lives. I read these stories with a yearning to be able to share my own some day with my distinguished brethren. Allow me now to tell you about finally finding the woman of my dreams.

Karen was introduced to me by my best friend, Jordan, who works with her. Jordan is also a fellow cigar smoker and a gentleman of the highest order. One day we were going out to dinner and we purposely planned for me to meet at his office so that I could meet Karen. Our intention was to invite her to come along, and fortunately for me, she accepted. During dinner I quickly became enthralled by her. Jordan and I always smoke a cigar after a meal and I was hoping Karen would also join us in the park for our traditional after-dinner smoke. Not only did she join us, I later found out that she was hoping we would invite her.

As we sat in the park we continued the stimulating conversation that had begun at dinner. With every swirl of smoke I was becoming more and more enchanted by this beautiful woman. The pinnacle of the experience was when she actually took a puff of my cigar. Jordan told me that the next day at work, Karen was telling their coworkers how she "took a puff of Mark's cigar." It was that same day that I asked her out for our first date.

Marvin, all of my life I have been searching for my soul mate. Finally the search is over. Karen is absolutely the most wonderful woman I have ever known. She is a beautiful person both inside and out and my respect and admiration of her continues to grow. As a clinical psychologist I have an extra edge at judging peoples' character based on their actions. But one need not be a professional clinician to know when one strikes gold. I knew Karen was a giving and unselfish person, one who would love her man with all her heart, the first time I was at her apartment. How, you ask?

Very simple. She told me I could smoke a cigar there any time I wanted.

Mark R. Vogel
Newton, New Jersey


Dear Marvin,

As my reward for being selected "Sailor of the Quarter" in September 1959, a chief petty officer treated me to dinner one night. He took me to the Cuba Alliance in Yokosuka, Japan, where we had an excellent meal followed by a Drambuie and a corona--a Golden Tabacalera cigar. It was the finest meal I had ever eaten, my first Drambuie and my first cigar. By the end of the evening, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

I spent 25 years in the Navy and never forgot that wonderful experience. When I became a chief petty officer and then a warrant officer, I often used a good meal and a good cigar as a reward for a job well done by one of my sailors. I also used a good meal, a good cigar and a Drambuie to reward myself for having had a good day, or a bad day, whichever.

Then, when my children got old enough to be a major pain in the neck, they joined their mom in a campaign to make me give up cigars. So, in 1986, I gave up smoking altogether because I love my wife and children; I also love a little peace and quiet around the house.

My son, Walter, grew into a fine young man and started his own business here in Austin. He is a good son and often comes to visit his old dad, usually to borrow something or use my nice garage to work on one of his classic old Mustangs. Imagine my surprise when one day he offers me a Macanudo Ascot! My first reaction was, "Is this some kind of joke?" "Well Dad," he explained, "Austin is a pretty happening place for cigar smokers these days. Almost all of my friends visit brew pubs and smoke good cigars now." He then tells me he often goes out for a fine meal followed by a B&B and a good cigar. "Yeah, Dad, you ought to try it yourself sometime!"

Well, since that memorable afternoon, Walter and his friend, Luther, and I have enjoyed some of the finest cigars made. I smoke mostly Cuesta Rey Cabinet 1884. However, Walter and Luther both have well-stocked humidors and often share one of their aged treasures with me, or they stop in at Wiggies on 6th Street and buy something special when they visit. To date, we have enjoyed Don Lino, Arturo Fuente, Dunhills, Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo and many more. Life doesn't get much better than having a good cigar after dinner with your older and wiser son, and his friends. We often sit on my front porch in the soft summer evenings enjoying each other's company with a Drambuie or B&B, and a fine cigar.

In an odd twist of fate, my son, Walter Payne, is now president of the Texas Cigar Smokers Association. Here in Texas, they have an old saying: "What goes around, comes around." Must be something to that.

Robert R. Payne
Leander, Texas


Dear Marvin,

For 12 years I have been married to a devoted cigar smoker. I never liked cigars much myself, but I had a beautiful cigar lounge built in our home for him one Christmas and filled it with beautiful pictures of mermaids and naked water nymphs by Waterhouse, classic overstuffed English chairs and ottomans, antique lamps, and even a lighted cigar ashtray.

One Christmas morning I led him to his room, unlocked the door and sat him in his chair. I put his favorite double maduro in his hand and noticed his beautiful blue eyes were misted over.

Well, many long afternoons and evenings were spent in his room enjoying fine cigars and although I sometimes joined him, I never took him up on his offer to try the cigars, until...

Several years went by and, in the throes of temporary insanity (a.k.a. mid-life crisis), an old girlfriend from 20 years ago began to call him, and he began to respond. He told me that he had to be with her, so we began a long journey into new territory. During this time he was spending several night a week with her and the rest at home with me. We just gravitated to the nurturing atmosphere of the 'cigar room,' as it had become known, where we talked for hours while he smoked cigars and I lay in his lap watching.

It was such a sensual and nurturing experience that I felt impelled to try it myself as a deeper sharing between us. I was immediately hooked, and now a year later we are still smoking at least one cigar a day together in "our" precious room. He has moved in with his girlfriend, but we own two businesses together and work six days a week. Every afternoon we take our work up to the cigar room and allow ourselves the pleasure of finishing our day with each other. It hardly seems like work, and sometimes it isn't!

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