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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Wayne Gretzky, Mar/Apr 97

(continued from page 10)

With this in mind, I asked if she would approve of me visiting my grandfather on Friday nights so I could enjoy a good smoke with him. Friday nights are reserved for poker, which has been an ongoing tradition for as long as I can remember, and one I have been a part of the last two years. Needless to say I was granted approval.

Allow me to introduce the players. My grandfather, who is 92 years young and has been smoking and sipping brandy most of his adult life. My father, a real estate broker who has worked hard all his life to provide the best for his family. My uncle Carlos, a.k.a. "Mr. Nickname," who has dubbed me "Castro chico," or young Castro. (I believe my beard and cigar combination have something to do with that.) Finally, my uncle Raul, a.k.a. "The Enforcer," only because legends say his best friend was made from 100 percent cowhide and he would wear it around his waist.

As time went on I, along with my cigars, had become an intricate part of the poker tradition. This had nothing to do with my record losing streak, but due to the size and aroma of the cigars I would smoke on these semi-religious occasions. Unfortunately, due to the demands of my business, I had been unable to participate in a Friday night ceremony for several months. As the months passed my father would call and ask, sometimes insist, if I would be attending another poker night, because my grandfather has been asking for his "Castro chico." Then, after missing approximately four months, I had managed to attend another poker night, but by now Father Time had begun taking control of my grandfather's eyesight and he couldn't recognize me as I walked in. I approached him carefully, hoping he would be able to focus in on my features, but no luck. When I gazed around and noticed the different expressions, I realized why my father had insisted as he did. Quickly, I reached into my shirt pocket and placed an Onyx No. 750 in my mouth and almost instantaneously my grandfather called out "Castro chico!" Holding back the tears I gently kissed him on the cheek and we commenced with the ritual. At that crucial moment I came to understand the finer points of life, family and an excellent cigar.

Rafael C. Sanchez
San Antonio, Texas

***

Dear Marvin,

The contagious effect of a cigar never ceases to amaze me. I have just returned from the Hootie and the Blowfish concert here in Dallas. My best friend and I are avid cigar enthusiasts, and chose general admission lawn seating tickets so we could enjoy the show and smoke our newly purchased Fuente Fuente Opus X double coronas.

When we arrived at the show, the ushers were asking that we sit as close to the people near us as possible because of the large crowd. My friend and I were naturally concerned that our cigar smoking was going to cause problems and complaints, but we went for the light-up anyway. There we were: a beautiful September night, good food and drink, great music and two towering cigars.

We could see the faces of people cringe and frown, but we couldn't hear what they were saying as we puffed away when the lights went down. Within minutes, the person behind us said with great excitement, "Can I buy a cigar from you? What a great way to enjoy the night!" My friend and I have a long-honored tradition that we always carry extra cigars and never accept money for one. We gave our new friend a cigar, and our enjoyment got larger. Moments later the ladies to our left were curious and we gave them a cigar that they shared. The woman to my right leaned over and said that she loved the smell of my cigar, and I gave her the Opus X wrapper for her reference to buy for her husband.

Before we knew it, the surrounding participants on blankets were all enjoying the cigars, the music and the beverages. Hootie played slightly longer than the smoke of my double corona, but the memories of the night will last for a long time.


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