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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Pierce Brosnan, Nov/Dec 97

Dear Marvin,

My husband, Tim, and I were married after knowing each other only six days, and we come from two completely different worlds. He was born and raised on a farm in Duluth, Minnesota, and I am from Chicago. I love the city, he loves the country. While he loves to hunt and fish, I love books and poetry and am content to be indoors. While he loves to go camping, my idea of "roughing it" is when a hotel has no room service. We are complete opposites.

Ever since we wed 14 years ago, I have tried to find ways to delve into his world of interests and make those interests my own so as to find more in common with my husband. A few years ago, Tim would go out every Monday night to play cards with the guys and watch ABC's "Monday Night Football."

So I began to watch "Monday Night Football" myself, learn about the plays, the players, the teams, etc., so that when he came home I'd be able to talk over the game with him. He was amazed when I would say, "Hey, did you see when so-and-so did such-and-such?" or "How 'bout those Bears!" It didn't take long before the guys were coming over to our house on Mondays, and I became an even bigger fan than Tim. Now, football is something we both love and, more than that, it's something we share.

I also did the same with golf (which is Tim's first love). I sat through endless hours of tournaments, again got to know who the players were, etc. I even learned to play a little, and now it's an annual event on Tim's birthday that we go golfing together.

This now brings me to the final frontier: cigars. Tim loves cigars. We live on a somewhat modest income, but he has always loved the finer things in life--fine dining (he used to be a chef), golf and, of course, cigars. A few years ago, Tim discovered what he considers the ultimate pleasure--a fine smoke. He also discovered Cigar Aficionado. It takes him a month to get through one issue, as he reads it cover to cover. This newfound interest of Tim's did not please me in the least. Cigars were stinky, an unnecessary indulgence and a bad habit, as far as I was concerned. He has smoked cigars for a few years now, and I have been adamantly opposed as well as extremely uninterested in the whole thing (although it did make it easier to shop for Tim for Christmas and birthdays). This was one of Tim's pastimes I could not, would not attempt to share with Tim.

One day last summer I got up early and sat on our deck soaking up the peace and quiet of the morning. I felt like reading and found a Cigar Aficionado Tim had been absorbing the night before. I brought it outside and, alas, I was enthralled with the articles and everything else behind the glossy cover. I was hooked. Since then, I too am an avid reader and the first to purchase the magazine off the newsstand. I usually place the new edition on Tim's pillow, and he's always surprised and grateful that I had thought of him (he just doesn't know that when he's asleep I grab it and read it, too). But there was still the matter of my negative feelings toward the cigar smoking itself.

About a month ago, Tim and I went out to a nice pool hall. I love to play pool, but I soon realized there was an ulterior motive in his choice of places to play pool. This particular place has a huge cigar selection, and everyone can enjoy a good smoke without the usual stares and comments from non-cigar smokers. When Tim perused the display case of cigars for what seemed like forever, then picked one, I was very disappointed. He was actually going to puff on that reeking tube while we shot pool! But my enthusiasm for the game outweighed my disgust, and we went to pick a table and (finally) started to shoot. We played game after game while he took puff after puff. Would that darn cigar ever end, I asked myself?

I still cannot believe what happened next. When Tim went to get us something to drink, I took my shot, missed, then sat and waited for him to come back. So there I was, waiting. Then I looked at the cigar. I looked again. "No, I shouldn't," I thought. "I can't," I thought. "It would be really disgusting to take a puff of that tobacco sausage they call a cigar," I said to myself. Tim had been after me for so long to just try it, but I had always refused, no matter how long he extolled the virtues of cigars, no matter how endlessly he described the variety of tastes that could be enjoyed in just one smoke. I never believed a word of it. But that cigar beckoned me.

I walked over to it. I looked at it. I touched it. Then I picked it up. It felt good between my fingers. I then did what I had always considered the unthinkable. I lit it. I took a puff. I took another, this time a little longer. I savored the flavor of it. I sat on a chair and I found that I enjoyed each puff more than the last. So this is what all the talk is about! Why didn't I listen? I realized then how much pleasure I had missed out on.

When Tim came back to the table, his mouth dropped in shock at what he saw--his wife, who had for so long rebelled against the idea of smoking a stogie, in her own little world, relaxed, head tilted back, eyes closed, not even in a hurry to resume her all-time favorite sport. The look of sheer pleasure on Tim's face at seeing me with a cigar between my lips could not possibly compare to the look of pleasure on my own face.

Since that night we have discovered another common interest. We often go out on the deck, even when it's freezing cold outside, and lose ourselves to that world to which only a fine cigar can take us. Only now, we go to that world together. Love and a fine cigar--what more can one ask out of life?

Kathleen Mosier
Duluth, Minnesota

***

Dear Marvin,

On June 7, the Detroit Red Wings took the Stanley Cup in a sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers! I had a wonderful day with family and friends.

The day started out sunny and beautiful, a picture-perfect day to enjoy a hometown team winning the most coveted prize in all of hockey. I have played hockey since I was six years old, and have been a Red Wings fan ever since I could skate. I have seen that team go through some very rough seasons, but I always enjoyed watching them play.

From the old Olympia Arena to the new Joe Louis Arena, fans from all over were dedicated to that team! I know many people will say that their hometown team has the most dedicated fans, but after I saw how many fans showed up for our team's parade in downtown Detroit, I am convinced that the Red Wings have the most dedicated fans. Also, I can't describe to you the electricity that was felt inside Joe Louis Arena that night. It was something that I'll never forget. I was hugging and slapping high-fives with people I didn't even know, and it was great!

Anyway, back to Saturday, June 7, 1997. I had a party at my home in St. Clair Shores, and family and friends came to enjoy the historic event. To start it off, I hand-painted the Red Wing logo in my front lawn for everyone in my neighborhood to enjoy. Then, the party started! We enjoyed the game in my garage, because I have a 10-month-old, and I promised my wife to never smoke cigars in our home. I started off the evening with a Zino No. 6, one of my favorite cigars. I was kind of disappointed to see it rated so low in the August 1997 issue--maybe your tasters had a bad batch! After Darren McCarty scored the second goal of the game to give the Wings a 2-0 lead, I lit up a Por Larrañaga Fabuloso--another favorite. During this time, my father, father-in-law, uncle and friends were all enjoying cigars. Then the moment came: the Wings won, and Steve Yzerman was hoisting the Stanley Cup! My friends and I lit up Cuban Montecristo No. 1s! Nothing will describe that feeling: an excellent cigar, my favorite hockey team winning the Stanley Cup, and sharing that experience with my family and friends! The moment was awesome. We partied the rest of the night! Way to go, Red Wings!!

Mike Stabnick
St. Clair Shores, Michigan

***

Dear Marvin,

Here's one for romance! In May, while traveling in Paris, France, I came upon a wonderful discovery: Cuban cigars. Is it true what they say about these? Realizing that I would be in Paris for only 10 days, I knew that it would require a lot of sampling to get through all of the different varieties at hand. I tried Romeo y Julietas, Montecristos and Cohibas, and felt that the Romeo y Julietas were the find of the year!

I had imagined Paris to be number one in the fashion industry. Imagine how surprised I was when I could not find anyone enjoying a cigar. This did not stop me; after dinner and a drink, I lit up a fine Cuban cigar! Shocked onlookers turned and whispered, "A woman smoking a cigar--oh, my!" They watched, I smoked! They stared, I smiled and smoked some more.

Then the bravest man would approach and inquire about this. "Did I enjoy smoking cigars?" "Yes, very much so!" "Where are you from with that accent?" "Los Angeles, California." "Oh! This could only happen in California." They were so inquisitive. This went on almost every night; they finally concluded this to be sexy.

On my last night there, in the most romantic city, while enjoying my Romeo y Julietas, thinking how romantic things were--the name, the cigar, the town--the only thing missing was my Romeo. No sooner thought...a single stem, red rose appears...and a moment later a young gentleman approaches the table, intrigued by the woman with the cigar. After 10 questions, he wanted to enjoy also! We shared the cigar together. I then took the band off and set it on the table. He picked it up, memorized it and placed it on the table, then played with it--as though it were made of gold. I smiled and told him to be careful, that I would "make him my husband if he was not careful." He laughed and said, "I have always wanted an American wife!" We laughed.

Realizing that I had about 20 minutes left to my cigar, I agreed to be his American wife--for 20 minutes! He quickly asked for a kiss. Oh, Romeo!!!

Then he quickly asked for the honeymoon; wow, did this "French Romeo" move fast!! Enjoying my Romeo y Julieta, I laughed and told him that this was the honeymoon.

We then decided to go dancing. I had not found a dance place in Paris and wanted to try it all, so I agreed. He quickly tightened the band on his finger, reminding me that "I was his American wife!" Off to Moulin Rouge, to dance all night, with my new French husband, who was my husband for nine hours until he kissed me goodbye and off I went to the airport. Who knew that one cigar could make for such a romantic event!

Martha Rodriguez
Covina, California

***

Dear Marvin,

I just wanted to present this poem to you to say thanks. Thanks for a great magazine and for bringing me together with others who enjoy the finer things in life. As an entrepreneur, I have a great appreciation for anyone who has the guts to put his money where his vision is and take on the risk of starting such a venture. It's people like yourself who ought to be admired in our society today, instead of our current crop of human debris. Anyway, I wrote this poem to honor one of my favorite passions and to all those likewise who savor one of God's greatest gifts to mankind -- a CIGAR! My best to you and to all those at Cigar Aficionado.

CIGAR!

A cigar is a smoke it's plain to see,
One of life's little treasures it ever will be
On a warm Summer's day or a crisp Autumn's eve,
A cigar is delightful to give or receive.
From its smooth, silky wrapper with its bright oily sheen,
To the binder and filler that lies in between.
From its spicy aroma to its wafting blue smoke,
Light up in sorrow or while telling a joke.
When others around you just don't understand,
Smoke to the freedom you hold in your hand.
When life's constant worries leave you in a huff,
Just burn them away with each savored puff.
From Churchill to Burns, to Kipling to Twain,
Each cherished joining tobacco to flame.
At the end of the day there's no better greeter,
Than a cigar wrought with the scent of a humidor's cedar.
Hecho A Mano, it's made by hand,
Nourished by sunlight in a tropical land.
You can search the World over near and far, But please, if you do, take a cigar!

Greg Cunningham
Charlottesville, Virginia

***

Dear Marvin,

In your August 1997 Cigar Aficionado, Doug Shaw of Carl Junction, Missouri, ended his letter with: "If a guy can do better that that, please tell me how."

Well, just a few months ago, I'd been married all of eight or nine hours to my new beautiful Brazilian bride, and the scene at my home was intoxicating: the deck surrounded with Latin torches, flames flickering in a soft spring breeze; two grills billowing smoke for the last two hours with the smells and morsels of Brazilian cuisine tantalizing every taste bud. My best friend and his family were there, over in the lounge chair my grown son sat with his girlfriend in his lap, other good friends were all around in gaiety and laughter. Sitting beside me was my brother, five years my elder. We watched his Brazilian wife, guitar in hand, as she and my new bride sang love songs to us in their native tongue. I sat there, floating on a cloud with my favorite brew in hand, when my brother, without a word, looked at me, grinned and handed me a beautiful, hand-rolled Dominican cigar. The next hour was nothing short of pure, relaxing ecstasy! Doug, I wasn't there for yours, but I sure wish you could have been there for mine.

After kicking the awful cigarette habit, I can now enjoy good cigars. I'm a police officer in a moderate-size city, and after a day of dealing with criminals, I like to come home to my waiting wife, shed my gear, throw on some old shorts and sit out in the quiet of the night with my wife while looking into the stars and drawing on a good cigar. I have to laugh at myself sometimes when I'm on patrol and I catch myself wishing the shift was over just so I could get my hands on that cigar. When I do enjoy these late-night rendezvous, my wedding day Churrasco always fondly sweeps through my mind.

You folks at Cigar Aficionado are first-class. Muito obrigado.

Dean Charlton
High Point, North Carolina

Dear Marvin,

I am an attorney with a large communications corporation based in New York City. We also have offices on the West Coast, where I frequently travel. Several months ago I was in San Francisco for a three-day meeting. One evening, I went out to dinner with two gentlemen associates (from the San Francisco office). We went to a splendid restaurant on the Wharf. At the conclusion of dinner, we went outside to the dockside lounge for a drink. One of the gentlemen I was with asked me if I would be offended if he lit a cigar (which was very considerate knowing I was a nonsmoker).

Well, I truly cannot tell you if it was the atmosphere, the B&B, or a combination of both, but I suddenly had an urge to try a cigar! It took me a few minutes, but I gathered enough courage to ask Jim if I could try one. The next thing I knew, I was gently blowing puffy clouds of delicious smoke into the sea air and enjoying it more than I could ever imagine! In a few short minutes, I went from a nonsmoker to someone who can cut a cigar, properly light it and, most important, savor it. I will never forget my first H. Upmann Corona.

When I returned home two days later, there was a box of H. Upmann Petit Coronas, along with a sterling silver cutter, beautifully gift-wrapped on my desk. Later that evening, after a long day's work and take-out dinner at the office, I returned home. The first thing I did was kick off my heels, peel off my stockings, open a bottle of Chardonnay and light up on my terrace overlooking the Great South Bay of Long Island. Since then I enjoy those evenings perhaps two or three times a week and have purchased a humidor and have added some Macanudos, Don Diegos and Onyx to the collection. Now, all I have to do is gain enough courage to inform my wonderful fiancé, who is a huge nonsmoking proponent. I love him dearly, but I also love my cigars.Wish me luck!

Pamela M.
Long Island, New York

***

Dear Marvin,

So often we hear the adage, "You get what you pay for." The implication being, of course, that the costlier the product, the better the product. In discussing the pricing of cigars with dealers and friends, I have found this notion to be especially prevalent; on many occasions, for example, a cigar dealer has dissuaded me from choosing among relatively inexpensive cigars, suggesting that "the quality demanded by the discriminating palate" is much more likely to be found among the higher-priced, so-called "premium" cigars.

Cigar Aficionado's blind ratings of cigars, however, tell quite a different story. As a scientific researcher, I could not keep myself from running some statistical analyses on these ratings (please forgive me) to see whether there really is any correlation between cigar price and quality. Using the ratings of cigars available in the United States from your last four issues (361 in all) and analyzing them by cigar type, by country of origin and by combining all of the ratings together, the results consistently show that there is, in fact, virtually no correlation between cigar price and quality.

When the information is graphed, it is immediately apparent that the average quality of the rated cigars differs little across a wide range of prices, and the chances of finding a highly rated cigar among those costing just a few dollars are about the same as they are among those costing considerably more; similarly, the chances of finding a relatively poorly rated cigar are also about the same in the low and high price ranges. For the mathematically inclined, the "r-squared value" for this (linear) correlation is a minuscule 0.02, indicating that 98 percent of the pricing of these cigars is related to factors other than quality (as assessed by Cigar Aficionado's tasters). Of course, it is possible that cigars not included in these ratings may fare otherwise, but the large number of cigars included in this sample makes it unlikely that this would often be the case.

In short, where fine cigars are involved, costlier is not better. Routinely purchasing the lesser-priced cigars rated by Cigar Aficionado will not only give you many hours of great smoking pleasure, but will leave you with plenty of money left over for renewing your subscription to this excellent publication.

Jack G. Modell
Leeds, Alabama

***

Dear Marvin,

I consider myself a very fortunate man. My golf buddy/cigar compadre bought tickets for the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. We watched all the action as it unfolded on Friday and Saturday. I got to see the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus; the newest phenom, Tiger Woods; and all the fabulous pros in between.

I also met up with some friends from high school whom I had not seen in more than a year. Needless to say, my friends and I lit up some beautiful hand-rolled Dominicans over our two-day outing. During the rain delay on Friday, I enjoyed a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 2, lukewarm beer and good conversation.

On Saturday, I had waited to light my Montecruz Robusto until the afternoon. We were watching Davis Love III come down the ninth fairway. No sooner had I lit my stogie than one of the off-duty marshals started giving me a hard time about my cigar. He said, "Oh, no! You're one of those people!" as he waived his hands mockingly, blowing away the smoke. I told this ignorant gentleman (who was clearly high on his "marshal" powers) that I had every right to smoke a cigar in the open air and if he didn't like it, he should move. My friends shouted "Aire libre!" and whipped out their cigars and lit up in my defense.

It was about a half hour later, as our smokes were nearing an end, that we got to see Jack Nicklaus up close and personal and cheered him on with a "You the Man!" My love of golf and cigars have always gone hand in hand. The joy I derive from both of these activities should not have to take a back seat to anyone, especially a cranky, off-duty, overzealous marshal.

As I said earlier, I am a very lucky man. On Aug. 16, my wife, Sheryn, gave birth to a 10-pound, 1-ounce boy, Ryan Joseph, and I look forward to the day that I can walk down the fairway with him enjoying a good smoke, teaching him about the finer things in life: golf and cigars. Also, I would be remiss if I did not thank my friend, Ed, for giving me the opportunity to experience a U.S. Open.

Patrick J. Vincent
Marlton, New Jersey

***

Dear Marvin,

Myself and 14 friends were out on our annual golf excursion to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this May. On Saturday, May 3, we were dining at Umberto's restaurant at Barefoot Landing. The owner, Bob, was a great host and bent the rules slightly to accommodate 15 cigar smokers in the semi-enclosed porch, which was greatly appreciated.

This particular Saturday night was a special one in Myrtle Beach due to the grand opening of the new House of Blues Club and Restaurant. While we were eating, the waiter mentioned that the partners in House of Blues were also eating dinner at Umberto's. I noticed Jim Belushi sitting a couple of tables away from us. Knowing how much Jim enjoys a good cigar, I approached the table to briefly introduce myself and pass along a La Gloria Cubana Charlemagne to him. As I made my way back to my table, Jim called me back to his table and reciprocated with a La Gloria Cubana Wavell! We chatted briefly about how much we both enjoy the fine products of Ernesto Carillo and Co. and, of course, how difficult they can be to find.

The next day on the seventh tee of our morning round, I sparked the Wavell he gave me and promptly birdied the next two holes on my way to a victory over a good friend!

This story is just another example of the unbelievable camaraderie that exists among cigar smokers. Keep up the great work!

Pierce H. Foster Jr.
Greenwich, Connecticut

***

Dear Marvin,

In mid-June my father and I headed to California for one of his business trips. Normally I would not be included in one of these trips, but I had recently finished a semester at school and needed a vacation. We were heading to the Sacramento and San Francisco areas--Sacramento for the business portion of the trip and then San Francisco to visit relatives and sightsee.

To make a long story short we had spent a week looking around and taking in all of the sights, and the next day we had a flight back to Virginia. My father and I had spent a week worth of quality time together and I figured I would top the trip off by sharing a cigar with my dad on Father's Day. Before this night I had never smoked with my dad, so this was a special bonding night; I have always been real close to my father, but this night was incredible.

Before we left home I happened to pick up a couple of Cuban Montecristo No. 2s and, thanks to your Web site, the name of some popular cigar bars in San Francisco. So heading out for our last night on the town, I took my dad to Fume, a cigar bar right next to our hotel. The bar was quiet on a Sunday night, but what a great atmosphere for a smoke with my dad. With jazz playing over the speakers we sat down, ordered some drinks and lit up our cigars. I had heard about Cuban cigars being good, but this cigar was probably the best I ever had. My dad smoked his down to the nub and practically burned his knuckles. We sat around talking about cigars and life. I will always remember that evening for the pleasure that my father and I experienced from sharing one of life's simple treats together.

J.K. Ronay
Fairfax, Virginia

***

Dear Marvin,

If it wasn't for the Internet, I would never have been introduced to the wonderful world of cigars. Last year I bought a new super-duper computer and decided to go on-line. The world of the Internet opened up before me; locating anything on the Internet is a bit like searching through a darkened Library of Congress with a pen flashlight. Eventually I found IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, and parked myself as a regular in one of the chat channels.

Around that same time a man in Oklahoma named Ross was discovering the same chat channel and we began talking. It turns out that Ross is a cigar lover, and I shared with him the fact that although I have never been a smoker I have always had a desire to smoke a cigar, sip a glass of Port and read a good book. That was my picture of peace and tranquility and some day I would try it.

Well, for Christmas I received a package from Oklahoma. You guessed it! Included in the package was my very first cigar, along with a little handbook on how to smoke it. The cigar wasn't anything fancy, but it was perfect for a newcomer. I fell in love with cigars.

Now I've had the experience of sharing some cigars with Ross; we both try different types and share our cigar adventures. We've both also had the opportunity to acquire a few Cuban cigars for each other--what a treat.

Not long ago I flew to Oklahoma to meet Ross and his family. He had set aside some special cigars for me and I brought him a few that he had never tried. We had a wonderful visit and each evening we would sit on the back porch and enjoy a fine cigar and warm friendship.

Ross and I have many years of friendship ahead of us--but we also have many years of cigar swapping and experimenting ahead thanks to the Internet. As our friendship continues to grow, so will our cigar icollections!

Kathleen M. Bradley
Olympia, Washington

***

Dear Marvin,

Tonight is my last night of undergraduate work at a small Christian college in west Tennessee. As I'm about to transfer to a nearby professional school, I can't help but reflect on the memories of the past few years. I've developed friendships here that cannot compare to anything I've ever experienced.

Though I have a few close friends who choose not to smoke, I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with several young men who share my love of a good cigar. I cannot count the times that have been shared, whether in deep conversation or in silence, with the accompaniment of a good smoke. These experiences have ranged from celebration of a new job or acceptance to professional school to consoling one over the loss of a parent.

Tonight being our last night on campus, we're going to do it one last time. I've chosen for this evening an Arturo Fuente that I've kept perfectly humidified for almost a year. Tonight will be different, though. Following graduation this weekend we will all be going our own way.

Marvin, I write this letter to say thank you. Thank you to Mr. Floyd, our local fine tobacco dealer, for supplying us with the catalyst for these experiences. Thank you to these friends for being there and sharing some of the best times of my life. And most importantly, thank you to God, for blessing me with these relationships and memories that I hold as priceless.

Kelly D. Green
Jackson, Tennessee

***

Dear Marvin,

I was recently returning from our family vacation home on the Colorado River near Lake Havasu, Arizona, when I was caught in a summer flash flood. The storm rolled in right as the sun was setting and while I was traveling west on a road affectionately known as Rice Road. This type of storm dumps a lot of rain in a short period, and usually has a spectacular light and sound show to go with it.

Fortunately, I was on high ground, so I pulled to the side of the road and pulled out an Arturo Fuente Hemingway that was a gift from a good friend. Sitting in my vehicle smoking the cigar while the storm raged over my head, with thunder shaking the car and lightning bolts from horizon to horizon and enough rain to form puddles in seconds, all I could think of was how small and insignificant we are in comparison to the might of Mother Nature.

The storm passed through in about 40 minutes, leaving in its wake numerous newly formed streams. The remnants of the sunset lit up the sky in a burning red and purple glow. While proceeding slowly down the road, I was thankful for being an unscathed witness to this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon, and for good friends with excellent taste.*

James P. Rose
Belmont Shore, California

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