(continued from page 2)
The following morning, July 4th, we arose and decided to take a walk to the small merchandise mart attached to our hotel. While browsing through the many storefronts, we came upon a small corner cigar store. To my dismay, due to the holiday all stores were closed, with the exception of a small newsstand. As I was purchasing the summer edition of Cigar Aficionado, I noticed a short, gray-haired gentleman speaking Spanish, enjoying a cigar and conversing with the clerk. Boldly, I asked if either of them knew if the cigar store might open today. With a smile, the gentleman introduced himself, and stated that he was the owner of the shop and that unfortunately, it was closed for the day. Being that it was my honeymoon and that I was dying for a great smoke, I asked if he might open the store for my bride and I. Politely he agreed.
The following hour was one of the most delightful and educational experiences of the entire vacation. He spent the time educating me in the particulars of cigar manufacturing and etiquette and discussing our individual preferences. It came to be that after emigrating from Cuba, this fine gent continued his profession of creating fine handmade cigars. In fact, he rolls and packages cigars there in his store on a very limited basis. I stood as a bright-eyed young man absorbing as much knowledge about his beloved pastime as I could ingest. After our discussion, I purchased several of his coronas to place proudly in the humidor I had received as a wedding gift from my wife.
Since returning home, I have lit just one of the fine cigars, every puff bringing with it the memory of meeting such a fine man, who took the time to educate me and enrich me with his knowledge and love of our mutual pastime. Thank you, Mr. Quirantes.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
I am a 20-year-old college student who has recently found the joy of cigars. I admit my first indulgence was before the proper age of 18 years, feeding my rebellious attitude. My friends and I would share stories, card games and other events that made us, well, men. However, while my friends started to change to the cigarette mood, my mood stayed with the cigar. Finally reaching 18, I was legal to purchase my own goods. That's when I met one of my best friends of all my life. He shared my passion for the love of cigars, always purchasing a new brand every week and exploring the joy of tobacco.
We enjoy going to the local cigar shops once a week followed by a night at the dog track to enjoy a low college income of living. To us new cigar lovers we are a minority; sure, you'll see an 18- to 25-year-old smoking a stogie, but it is usually a $2 pack bought at the grocery store. My point is you have a new generation of cigar lovers coming up--it's not just for the old anymore! Recently, I have begun to spread my love to the older generation. My three brothers-in-law appreciated my love of Montecruz cigars that I purchased for a fishing trip to Wyoming. Now I have stirred up youthful memories of their college days, bringing them back to them, back to the love of a fine cigar.
All was not lost on a rainy Memorial Day 1996.
As the day got more gray and the rain began to fall, we needed to change our outdoor plans, and we set out for a pleasant drive in the country settings of western Pennsyl-vania. As my two children slept in the back seat of the car and my wife peered out the window, I unwrapped a fine 7 1/2 inch Las Cabrillas Natural Honduran (compliments of my boss) and slowly savored the flavor without firing it up. (No smoking in the wife's car). I pondered how good life is and contemplated smoking this cigar upon my return home.
After an ice cream break, we returned home to prepare our evening dinner. I retreated to the porch to enjoy this fine cigar and enjoy some light talk radio. My 4-year-old daughter and I discussed the fact that some time ago brave soldiers fought long and hard so that we could enjoy our freedom, simple luxuries and settings like this. Although she didn't fully understand the entire concept, someday she will.
Hopefully she will also recall happy times sitting with her father as I enjoyed a cigar, and positive family conversations, many of which take place with a cigar in hand.
The holiday weekend will close shortly, but I don't think I'll ever forget this relaxing rainy day. I appreciated the fact of how the simple things in life--family, children, cigars and a rainy, but memorable Memorial Day--can make someone
Thank you, brave men and women, for fighting for our country and making this great day possible.
A couple of weeks ago I was going through my semi-daily ritual of sitting at home in my easy chair, enjoying a nice Macanudo and listening to Chet Baker, while reading Cigar Aficionado, when out of the blue the doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, and being somewhat annoyed at the disturbance of my "personal time," I hesitantly approached the door. As I opened the door my frustration turned to elation when I realized it was Harry, a childhood friend I had not seen in over 10 years.
He immediately noticed the fine aroma of my cigar and apologized for disturbing me. His apology made me realize that he, to, had become an aficionado, for only a cigar smoker himself knows the quiet pleasures of sitting alone and enjoying a good smoke. I invited Harry in and offered him a cigar with a glass of Port. Without hesitation he accepted the offer, and before long we were sitting in a cloud of smoke reminiscing about old times.
Since the evening was young, and we were both in a social mood, we decided to go to a local jazz bar to have a couple of drinks and listen to some nice music. As we approached the bar, Harry stopped just short of the entrance and handed me a cigar. He explained that it was a Cuban he had recently acquired (I didn't ask how) and was saving for a special occasion. I felt honored that he would share it with me. We immediately lit the cigars and proceeded into the bar.
Being at a jazz bar, I was confident that the smoking of cigars would not be a problem. Besides, there was already a thick haze of smoke in the air from all the cigarettes. We sat down at a table near the back, ordered some fine malt Scotch and puffed away on our little treasures. This truly was the best cigar I had ever tasted! It was so uncommonly smooth yet flavorful that I thought this must be what cigars in heaven are like. The band that night was excellent, I was with a good friend whose company I had missed the past few years, and the Scotch was going down like liquid honey. Nothing could disrupt this ambience.
Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder from our waiter. He informed me that cigar smoking was not allowed at that establishment! My initial reaction was to laugh. After all, this was a jazz bar, the room was filled with cigarette smoke and no one in my immediate vicinity seemed to be bothered by our indulgence. I asked him why we had to extinguish our cigars. He gave us no legitimate reason other than stating it was the bar's policy. Not wanting to argue more, we agreed to let the cigars go out, and set them in an ashtray. As the waiter left, a couple sitting next to us told Harry and me that they were actually enjoying the fine aroma our Cubans were emitting. That did it. Now I was upset.
I went to the bar and asked to speak to the manager. A young man about my age (mid-20s) came out to the back room and approached me. I immediately asked him the reason behind the cigar smoking ban. He informed me that because he is offended by the smell of cigar smoke, he made the policy. I could not believe it, and immediately gave him a lecture about my belief that cigar smoking "offenses" should be handled on a case by case basis. For example, had someone sitting close to me been offended and asked me nicely to put out my cigar, I would have done so without hesitation. But to make a blanket policy based simply on the whim of the management is appalling.
After this little incident, Harry and I went back to my apartment and finished our cigars. At least there we could enjoy our Cubans, listen to good music and have a drink unencumbered. Needless to say, I will never again go to that bar.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Allow me to first give you some background: I am a 21-year-old college junior who attends school in Memphis. I began smoking cigars in high school and have grown to become a true aficionado. Smoking has always been a
somewhat personal activity for me as it offers an outlet from the competitive academic environment which I am a part of. I often find myself in a deep meditative state while smoking and frequently discover myself doing the strangest things under their influence.
On July 19, 1996, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of watching the Olympic torch as it was carried through my neighborhood. As I stood there smoking my Fuente and wondering why I was up at 3 a.m., it all became clear to me. I was going to be the first person to light a cigar off of the Olympic flame. Beautiful, I thought to myself.
I pushed my way to the front of the mob, politely moving forward. Reaching the police block, I figured my initial efforts of making contact with the torch were futile. I decided to hold my current position. I must have been there no longer than five minutes when one of the attending police officers approached me. He asked me what I was smoking. Looking down at my partially extinguished Fuente, I replied. The officer, astonishingly, went on to tell me all about his love for cigars and how his new wife had forced him to smoke in secrecy, as she did not like the "smell." Upon the completion of his story, I had nothing to say or do but offer him one of my Fuentes. What some would call unprofessional of an officer on duty, he accepted graciously. I felt compelled to tell him my plan, in hopes it would add to our conversation. After finishing, he exploded into roaring laughter. I waited for his response to my idea. "Maybe I can help you," he said.
I watched in awe as he guided me through the block into a special roped-off area. "The torch stops here for a moment for the runner switch, pictures and the rehydration of the last group of runners.You are on your own now, good luck!"