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Smokers of cigars seem to understand their place in the world. I consider myself a private individual and it is with some trepidation I write my first letter to an editor. On April 11, Lisa, my sister-in-law, brought a child by the name of Liam into our community. I realize this event by itself went unnoticed by the mass of humanity but certainly not by family and friends. We have been anticipating this event every day of her pregnancy. I am the father of three children and luckily my wife has had relatively normal deliveries. Lisa has not been so lucky. One year ago, Claire, her first child, was born premature and died after four short weeks.
Very early in Lisa's current pregnancy, I was able to lay my hands on two Cuban cigars and store them away for Patrick, Lisa's husband, and myself to celebrate the forthcoming occasion. As the months passed, I would think of Lisa and Pat; I would often check on the cigars and my thoughts turned to how perfect the cigar is for celebrating a child's birth. Of the millions of cigars smoked every day, the cigar we hold in our own hands is special to each of us aficionados. The anticipation created prior to smoking each cigar is not unlike any newborn; will they live a clean, honest and worthy life, will they meet and exceed their potential? We hope that with the proper care, each will be special and we will be rewarded with satisfaction.
A life must be lived and so must a cigar be smoked. Like any good life, the cigar is touched by many, from the grower, roller and distributor, to the buyer. As Pat and I enjoyed our cigars, we contemplated the drifting smoke and the memories and the special times of our lives. The scent and the time for solitude wake us to our past and we reflect on our fathers and grandfathers.
Alas, the cigar smoked, like the life lived, will be but a memory. Some lives may be double coronas while others petit; Claire, in her short life, taught us the quality of our life is the memory left with others. Pat and I welcome Liam and wish him a long and bright future.
After hearing of the passing of George Burns, I decided I needed to share with you how George Burns changed my life as a cigar smoker. My wife, Martine, and I have been married for three years. Two years ago I found that smoking a cigar seemed to settle the tension that a full week of work brings. Much to my wife's displeasure, cigars gave me stress relief a few times a week.
One night while we were living in Southern California, we joined my best friend and his girlfriend for an evening at Wolfgang Puck's Spago. My wife was extremely excited to be dining at Spago, especially after meeting Wolfgang himself at the door. After a picture with the great chef, we were informed by the hostess they were setting our table. While we were being escorted to the table, our hostess said, "You will have to excuse the cigar smoking, but Wolfgang believes that anyone 99 years old should be able to do whatever they please." My wife practically went into shock; sitting next to us was George Burns, dressed in a tuxedo, with a table of friends.
My wife debated whether she should ask for a picture with the great one or not, but after he finished his cigar, she asked his valet if it would be all right if she took a picture. The valet told my wife to ask Mr. Burns. As she bent over his wheelchair, she rested her hand on the arm of the chair, and George Burns put his hand on top of hers and asked the valet to take the picture. Martine was almost in tears.
Ever since that day, cigar smoking has become much more acceptable at our house. I still can't smoke inside, but she has purchased for me a year's subscription to the Cigar Insider newsletter, a monogrammed Colibri lighter and a Paul Garmirian ashtray. Come to think of it, she smoked a Macanudo over Christmas!
After reading the Summer 1996 issue of Cigar Aficionado, I felt compelled to write to you. My husband, Jim, to whom I have been happily married for a few years, decided to take up cigar smoking last year. He became interested in cigars when he inherited a beautiful humidor from his grandfather. My husband loved his grandfather very much and always remembers him fondly. He often reminisces about his grandfather's cigar smoking stories prior to Castro, and his true enjoyment of authentic Cubans. Jim considers his grandfather one of the greatest human beings that he has had the good fortune to have ever met in his life. When his grandfather passed away, Jim, who was only nine at the time, felt a tremendous sense of loss, especially because they never got to do some of the things of which his grandfather had often dreamed.
In the beginning, when Jim first brought up the idea of cigar smoking, I was less than enthusiastic; however, to my own amazement, my usual conservative and narrow-minded views toward this subject were beginning to soften. I began to see my husband in a new light. My perspective was changing rapidly and I embraced the idea of gaining more knowledge about cigars. This helped me gain insight into a very special and intimate part of Jim that I really love.
We began this venture by going to various cigar stores and purchasing five new brands each week. I would ask Jim while smoking each cigar to describe its flavor to me, and then I would record each evaluation. During our cigar auditions, we would share stories about our childhoods, work, family, and suddenly the room was filled with an endless array of new memories. Believe it or not, I started to appreciate Jim's cigar smoking and I began to see it as very masculine and extremely sexy. I really enjoy it when he and I sit together after dinner on our deck, watching the sunset, while Jim enjoys a Vintage Romeo y Julieta. The sweet aroma fills the air. That is what we consider our time, our palace and our little secret. All the problems of the real world seem so distant for the moment, as sanity and order is restored in the world.
No one needs to understand, but I strongly recommend for all wives and significant others to try this formula. I think even Jim's grandfather would approve.
Alexandra N. Horsch
Lake Bluff, Illinois