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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Claudia Schiffer, Jul/Aug 97

Dear Marvin,

I have been a serious marathon runner for 14 years and a cigar smoker for five. While there may be some who find this combination to be incongruous, I do not. The pursuit of happiness is not limited to any particular set of endeavors. In November, I competed in my 20th marathon and my first with cigars. Several friends along the 26.2-mile course kept me supplied with Macanudo Crystal Cafes during the race. While not my first race, it may have been my most relaxing.

When I was a child, my parents never went out to formal affairs until my father tucked two Churchills into his tuxedo pocket. My own first experience with cigars proved to be somewhat of an embarrassment. Shortly after graduating from law school, I found myself being interviewed by a prominent attorney who at one time served as attorney general of the United States. After the interview the lawyer, who is the senior partner of one of Baltimore's most venerable law firms, offered me a cigar. I accepted. I attempted to light the cigar without removing the cap. It was my first cigar and I had no idea that the cap had to be removed to allow the draw of air. I sucked very hard until the partner advised me.

Several years ago I decided to try cigars. One of my first experiences led me to believe that cigar smoking is often memorable. I was dating a young Englishwoman whose mother came to visit us in New York. We thought our guest might enjoy an evening at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony.

On a balmy July afternoon we climbed into my car, put the top down and headed for Lennox, Massachusetts. We had decided to have a formal picnic on the lawn before the performance of Beethoven's Fidelio. We had a picnic basket full of good food, wine, china and crystal. After dinner I lit up a cigar. Almost immediately I saw a woman walk toward me from a distance of about 20 yards. She demanded that I extinguish my "vile cigar." Jayne, my friend's mother, jumped to her feet to defend not only me but my cigar smoking. She informed my accuser that as a young girl she had lived through some of London's darkest hours during the Battle of Britain. She made it quite clear that a great man with an ever-present cigar had rallied the English people and led the West through a tumultuous time. My accuser walked away looking very confused. I finished my smoke with a Cognac, and as I looked at the sun setting over the Berkshire Mountains, I could only think: it doesn't get any better than this.

Roland Nicholson Jr.
New York, New York

*

Dear Marvin,

Over the years I have enjoyed reading about the cigar experiences your other readers share with us. I feel that perhaps it is my turn to share now, rather than just enjoy.

In July 1995, 11 students from Missouri Southern State College earned scholarships to attend Christ Church College at Oxford University. I was proud to be among them, although I had serious reservations about how much I would enjoy the experience. I didn't know any of the other students and was not sure that I could measure up to the challenge academically.


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