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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 3)

The torch stopped just as the officer said it would. However, I was still a bit unclear as to how I was going to pull this off. There were cops everywhere and the runners were never left unattended. At that point, I noticed a wooden rack containing the torch that was next in line to be carried. One of the attendants had poured some liquid fuel inside and lit the torch. I assume she did this to burn off any excess fuel before she extinguished the torch and handed it to the next runner. I quickly walked over to the flame and began roasting my stogie. Almost immediately, I drew looks of sheer horror. I felt two firm hands on my shoulder, while an authoritative voice said, "Come with me, son." To make a long story short, it was my police smoking buddy. He led me away from the area and began laughing again. He told me he would cover for me and to disappear before anything nasty happened. Needless to say, I was long gone before there was a problem. Oh, in case you were wondering, I did manage to light my cigar; however, I ended up dropping it somewhere as I fled the scene.

Name Withheld
Memphis, Tennessee

***

Dear Marvin,

I must admit I have not yet learned the fine art of smoking a cigar, but I have learned to appreciate the acquiring of a cigar as an art!

It all started when some Arab friends of mine wanted to introduce me to a very famous legend, who unfortunately will remain nameless, as he is not the key to this story. It's just that he, too, loves cigars. I was invited to his home for lunch. As I awaited his entrance, my palms soaked from nerves, I wondered what he was doing prior to my arrival. Then I heard his voice as he
apologized for the delay; he was finishing his mid-afternoon cigar and wanted to put it out before he met me. I thought it a gracious gesture, as I will now admit I believed it to be a nasty habit and thought that all cigars were disgusting! We proceeded to have lunch and a meeting that now ranks as one of the most memorable days of
my life.

A week or so later, I had a "chance" meeting with an incredible man. He is fascinating, very adventurous and I believe that we are truly soul mates. It was love at first sight. But for your purposes, his true attribute is that he is a cigar aficionado.

On our first evening he hosted a group of five to dinner. At the close of the meal, he asked if I objected to him smoking a cigar. Unlike the previous gentleman, he wanted to test my reaction. For some strange reason, I nodded my approval. He lit up an Avo No. 1. I was ready for the worst. Maybe it was him or just the way he handled the situation, but it was heaven. I had never experienced such a beautiful aroma. It certainly could not have been a cigar (remember, I thought they were disgusting). It was captivating, and so was he. Unfortunately, the restaurant asked us to leave. We moved to the lounge in the hotel and ordered an after-dinner drink and he (or we) continued to enjoy his cigar. We talked until dawn, mostly about cigars, and I was hooked.

Now the adventure begins. During the conversation he, not knowing my character, proposed a challenge. He began by telling us (yes, we still had an audience) about his favorite cigar, one that is impossible to obtain. One so difficult, he said, that Castro himself could probably not get it. Yes, it was a Cuban cigar, an Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona. It had to be a double corona. None of this meant anything to me, only the challenge. Then he sweetened the deal. He said, in front of the now much-appreciated witnesses, that he would marry me if I could get one, no, not one, but a box. He then laughed. Mind you, he was not being pretentious, he was merely emphasizing the fact that these cigars were special, very special. Well, to me this man is special, very special.

I began my quest for this rare cigar. I put out feelers to my resources in London. They said, no problem, we will get them for you. Great! Easy. Three days later the call came, "No cigar! These things are impossible!" Now what? I wasn't sure where to turn. I called the Arabs; they laughed. Now I was desperate. I was left to my own devices. Should have done that in the first place. I opened up the Yellow Pages and started dialing for dollars. I must have spoken to everyone in the country connected to cigars, even someone at your publication. Again, no cigar...

After spanning the globe, I began to search locally. I met my new best friend, who will also remain nameless for obvious reasons. Finally, he said, "Yes," I can get this cigar for you. Within hours I, not Castro, had a box of Hoyo de Monterey Double Coronas in my possession. The details on how I actually got them is enough material for another letter.

So what happened to Mr. Right? He does not live in the same city as I. We have spoken on the telephone and he knows (or thinks) that I have the cigars in question. It is an understatement to say that he is in shock!!! We will be meeting next week in an undisclosed location to celebrate. I will let you know how things develop. He has promised to now teach me the other side of cigars, smoking them.

I ask you, how many MEN does he know that would go to such extent to capture the essence of a fine cigar without even a puff? Maybe women learn the value of something fine before they acquire a taste for it. When I do take my first puff, I will have already a "unique" appreciation for the fine art of cigars. And a new friend, a "unique" man who introduced them into my life.

I look forward to finding my own special brand and hopefully it will be easier to obtain. Yes, after two weeks I am hooked and fascinated by the world of cigars and aficionados. I will end this saga by quoting something from your pocket guide (yes, I bought that, too) that I believe to be true: "Sharing a cigar with a friend becomes a stimulus for civilized conversation, a common ground where shared experience builds a bond."

A Cigar Aficionada
Las Vegas, Nevada

***

Dear Marvin,

Not surprisingly, the good times and new friendships created from the pleasure of smoking fine cigars is being undermined by the insurance industry. Namely, it's the life insurance industry. Recently, my life insurance agent notified me that smoking more than 12 cigars a year puts such an individual in a higher risk category, and is therefore subject to higher premiums. This sent me over the edge, particularly at a time when cigars are enjoyed by mostly upper-income, healthy individuals that have life insurance-- how convenient and profitable.

If the ban in many restaurants for cigar smoking wasn't bad enough, now the insurance industry plans to sink their teeth into our wallets by observing a preposterously low smoking tolerance level. Where is the justice? More importantly, do you have any medical evidence to help fellow cigar smokers counter their claims? I eagerly await your response.

William R. Little
Cazenovia, New York

Editor's Note: We ran a story about cigar friendly life insurance companies in the Autumn 1995 issue. Please check it out. There are still many alternatives for people whose life insurance companies try to unfairly lump them together with cigarette smokers.

***

Dear Marvin,

On June 22, 1996, I was vacationing at our camp in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, situated at the western edge of the Allegheny Forest. The camp itself is on an island in the middle of the Allegheny River. Around 10:30 p.m., I was sitting on the porch smoking my favorite cigar, a Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. 2. I was accompanied by family members that included my wife, son, sister-in-law and her husband. Everyone was very interested in my preoccupation with cigars, especially this one. My wife and sister-in-law wanted to puff on it mainly out of curiosity. I made a rare exception this time and agreed to it.

Cigars, to me, are personal things not usually passed around for people to puff on madly, making them hot, soft or otherwise abusing them. I like the way a cigar will take on the fit of my mouth and teeth after a few minutes and don't like anyone screwing that up. This cigar was recently lit, making it the most gentle time of the cigar for a beginner to try. My wife is accepting my cigar smoking very well and jokingly refers to them as "stogies."

I was more than halfway through my smoke when someone said, "Don't look now, but something is after you." To my amazement, a very large flying something was acting aggressively towards me. It had a four- or five-inch wingspan and a ring size 40 body. The porch lights were dim, making it difficult to see what sort of thing it was. Guesses ranged from a bat to a hummingbird to a wasp. I was in no mood to find out who or what it wanted, so I got out of my lounge chair and danced around like a rap singer/dancer/performer to avoid the thing. Everywhere I scrambled to, the trespasser did in like manner. I would evade its repeated lunges and it would fly right at me, relentlessly, again and again. There was only one thing left to do: retreat to the cabin. It chased me all the way there, as I slammed the screen door behind me, eluding it once again. After about one minute, everyone said the coast was clear and to come out. Within seconds after I came out, it reappeared from out of the inky darkness, lunging at me aggressively.

By the way, I never put down my trusty Excalibur. I even snuck in a puff or two along the way.

Someone noticed that when I puffed smoke through the screen, the creature would reappear only to flit around in the plume. When I held the Excalibur to the screen, it fluttered madly in front of it with a sort of urgency. It became obvious that he or she wanted the cigar and not me. My brave 9-year-old son grabbed a fishing net and temporarily subdued the intruder. The holes in the net were too large to contain it for long. In that brief moment, we could see it was a moth; a very big moth...or so we thought. I came out of the cabin again after much prompting from everyone.

After all, was I a man or a moth? They persuaded me to stand still and let the moth land on my cigar. The moth landed on my hand in-stead. Let me tell you, these were tense moments. If you are not accustomed to having large fuzzy creepy crawlers on you, this is a real experience. It may as well have been a tarantula.

The struggle could have been over with a swat, but that is too often the way people handle something they do not understand. We are there to observe the wildlife and respect it. We studied its brown and black colors for several minutes, increasingly becoming more comfortable with it. Then I shook it off to go to the cabin to retrieve my camera. By the time I retrieved it, it was too late; the furry buggy-eyed creepy crawler was gone forever, returning, once again, to its mysterious nighttime existence. My Excalibur was waning badly, about less than an inch long by this time. I hadn't another cigar to continue the experiment, partly because we had extended our stay an extra day, exhausting our supply.

My research revealed the culprit. I believe it was the five-spotted hawk (or sphinx) moth. When in the caterpillar stage, it is known as the tobacco or tomato hornworm. My guess is that the moth may have been looking for a place to lay its eggs (a tobacco plant, I presume).

I plan on going to camp again in the near future with Excaliburs and camera at the ready. I can't help but wonder if this happens to other cigar smokers. I've had other cigars at camp at night but never to this effect. I feel justified somehow that even wildlife can enjoy a good smoke.

David A. McLaughlin
No Address Given

***

Dear Marvin,


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