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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 3)

Dear Marvin,

I am writing you this letter at the end of a perfect day. My wife, Leeanne, gave birth yesterday to our first child. I spent today watching my son, Greg David, in his first full day in this world. What a sight. What a feeling. This little man has hopefully a great life ahead of him.

After leaving the two of them in the hospital, I returned home tired but elated and very proud. I had saved a special cigar for this very occasion, a Hoyo de Monterrey double corona. As I savored this incredible cigar along with a great single malt, my thoughts wandered from how much I loved my wife and new family to all the things I was going to do with my son. I also started to think about the Hoyo and how long I had stored it for just this moment.

Marvin, I have been smoking cigars since long before they were the "in" thing, and I have read and own every issue of your great magazine. I could not help but think how these little items of pleasure have become a political and social stand in our society today. So many of the letters that are sent to your "Out of the Humidor" section are about where we can or cannot smoke, or should or should not. I smoke lots of cigars throughout a year: on a golf course, after dinner, reading. But many are remembered for the people and the events I enjoyed them with. This cigar I enjoyed tonight will always be remembered for the birth of my son.

Marvin, I agree we cigar smokers have to stand up for our rights, but let's not forget the reason we all started this cigar journey: pure enjoyment.

Keep up the great work you and your staff do.

Glenn Murray
Etobicoke, Ontario

***

Dear Marvin,

My daughter recently gave birth to our first grandchild, a beautiful little boy named Austin Mathew. When it comes to being proud grandparents, my wife and I take a back seat to no one.

What I was unprepared for was how much closer I felt that day to my son-in-law, Josh. After spending time with my exhausted daughter and the new baby, I began thinking of an appropriate way that Josh and I could celebrate the arrival of this first son and my first grandson.

Then it dawned on me: cigars! I have been an avid smoker of premium cigars for 15 years, and Josh had an interest in cigars, but hadn't ever smoked a good one. I recalled that a few days before the baby's birth, he had questioned me about which cigars I liked best. Just as I was about to excuse myself from the hospital room for a quick trip to my tobacconist, Josh produced two cigars--one of them my favorite, a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 1, a Joya de Nicaragua robusto for himself.

Not surprisingly, those were two of the best smokes ever, and Josh confessed that his was the first cigar he had ever really enjoyed. Smoking those cigars together expressed our feelings of joy, pride and relief, which were beyond words. When I visited them at home two days later, I brought two Partagas No.10s along, and again we savored them and celebrated Austin's arrival.

Those cigars not only helped to mark a wonderful milestone in our lives, but also highlighted a new, stronger bond between Josh and me. And last but not least, there is my good fortune at having found a new cigar-smoking companion!

Brian J. Todd
Bakersfield, California

***

Dear Marvin,

Believe it or not, your magazine causes miracles. I am a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, presently deployed to Bosnia. As the medical platoon sergeant (Second Armored Cavalry Regiment), I must plan for the worst and pray for the best. Since our arrival here, we have had to deal with minor injuries, but with land mines still unaccounted for (over two million); we must be ready for everything.

As a cigar smoker of many years, it is very important for me to keep my "field humidor" filled and, of course, get my subscription to ca. Well, the mail system over here is not exactly the best and the availability of cigars is nonexistent. Knowing that I'd be there for a while, I of course brought enough to get me through the first month.

Well, as the time went by, I found it very hard to get cigars here; only the departing unit's soldiers had some and they were being tight. My wife had sent me a package, but with no cigars.

As I was reaching a zero balance and with no relief in sight, I was getting quite worried. Then there was the miracle. I got two packages in the mail, both intact but bruised. Inside one was a selection of fine cigars my former boss (and friend) had sent me. Although they needed some time in the humidor due to the trip, I immediately had one and was totally as ease. While I smoked it, I opened the next package. There it was: ca, with Kramer [Michael Richards] on the cover.

I suddenly forgot where I was and dove into the pleasure of great smoke and my favorite magazine. Even though I'm in the middle of a war-torn country with a long way to go towards peace, there is a chance. Miracles do happen.

P.S. Feel free to send cigars! They are for a great cause.

SFC Armand A. Fermin

Operation Joint GuardDear Marvin,

"Cigars don't lie, but the people behind them often do," was one of the maxims my dad raised me by, right along with his Romeo y Julieta Churchills. Our Guajiro (Wahiro) culture values honesty, and cigars above all else. I was born in Camaguey Province, Cuba, the son of a frustrated artist--a romantic dentist whose greatest joys were making beautiful gold teeth for the very wealthy and original jewelry for the family. And his word was as good as the gold he wrought till the end. He died happily in his shop on a rainy day.

Many, many rains later, in November 1994, I found myself on the west coast of Canada at the end of an overworn marriage and an overdue master's degree, looking for sun-shine. I decided then to visit Cuba for the first time in 33 years. This would be the most important trip of my well-traveled life; it was where and when I ran head-on into Luz Maria (pseudonym), a stunning upper-class Cuban-American living in New England. She was petite, tanned and educated, a dreamboat with a great job and a naturally perfect set of "pearlies," who looked and danced well enough at fortysomething to out-shine much younger women. We met over breakfast at our hotel and that starry Havana night she opened her purse, offered me a Romeo y Julieta Churchill and stole my heart.

Upon our return to North America we called, wrote and I flew to see her in February. She met me at the airport with a box of Savinelli E.L.R. (lonsdales). I was hooked. Our romance grew to transcontinental proportions over the following months. We visited furiously back and forth, and by summer's end we pledged to love each other only, a difficult but wise move in these times of plagues.

That Christmas of '95 we went to Miami to meet our respective families, and one night I formally asked her father for her hand. I gave her an heirloom diamond and platinum ring (Dad's) and she gave me a kiss and box of Honduran Hoyo de Monterrey Maduro Sultans. I thought she already knew I like claro wrappers and thinner ring gauges--Maduro Sultans are 54s, but I accepted my gift most graciously. When she came for Easter she brought me Canaria d'Oro Finos: wrong again, too thin and mild this time. She seemed distant that visit, a bit short, curt and even cold in little ways at times. I thought it was the weather.

With our wedding plans set, I started wrapping up my art business to go live with her in the United States by the fall of '96. Before I went to meet her in May, I designed and made our wedding bands in antique 19-karat dental gold. She was late picking me up from the airport. "The traffic," she said at 10 p.m., and handed me, apologetically, a box of Aylesbury Puritos. They were simply below my taste. I protested and the next day found just what I wanted in three calls: Montecruz 200 Natural Claros and Juan Clemente Churchills. She was slightly offended, but I was definitely alarmed. It seemed she wasn't putting much thought into my preferences, and the quality kept dropping. Something was clearly amiss, and cigars don't lie.

Back in Canada, I took the trip's film to my usual lab. When I picked up the pictures, the clerk's smile appeared to show more than just cheap dentures. That night, at home, I opened the envelopes and there was Luz Maria on her bed, covered only by the light of the flash, in the most revealing and provocative poses a man could ever hope to see. The problem was, I hadn't taken those shots! Obviously, her roll had gotten mixed in with mine, but now the cat was out of the bag. I made some calls and a month later received a confidential report in the mail, complete with lots of black and white photographs.

Luz Maria led a very loose life when I wasn't looking. Promiscuity is, of itself, not a moral issue with me; honesty most certainly is. I am a practicing hedonist and support freedom of lifestyle, but I never wanted an "open" relationship or marriage. I had kept my word scrupulously, Guajiro style; she had chosen otherwise. Confronted with evidence all she said was, "If you don't lie, you don't get anywhere in this life." In her zeal to "safeguard her privacy," she had opted not to tell me until then that she (and therefore I) could have been exposed to AIDS through her unprotected participation in a love triangle (her best friend's boyfriend). I yanked Luz out of my life like an abscessed wisdom molar and went to work double-time to dull the pain and nervously await the six-month H.I.V. incuba-tion time.

One sunny winter day, after the tests for diseases had turned out alright, I was alone in my penthouse when I thought about my dad. I took the last two Cuban Romeo y Julieta Churchills from my humidor, lit them, placed one in the ashtray by my father's portrait and began to slowly enjoy mine. "Things could be worse," I told my dad in Guajiro Spanish. "At 49, I am a healthy, youthful, bon vivant with no debts and a successful career I really like. Just think, I could have married that woman; instead I am a free if not an entirely happy man. Thanks Papi, for teaching me about honesty, people and cigars.

Name Withheld
Vancouver, Canada

***


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