Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95
(continued from page 4)
Marvin, it's the only way to enjoy a bubble bath.
Bayonne, New Jersey
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By the standards of the greater part of the readership, I am a fledgling cigar smoker, but I'm happy to say that I'm developing my taste for Cohibas at every opportunity. You see, I seem to make a habit out of developing tastes that thankfully aren't mainstream, which is why I'm glad that a magazine like yours exists. There is a certain affluence that's attached to a man who smokes a cigar, as I have discovered there is no such thing as a cheap "good" smoke. The maintenance of a well-stocked humidor is a serious undertaking, but that's good; nothing worth having in this life comes easy.
The common denominator that has escaped the notice of some of your critics regarding the individuals you've profiled is their having worked hard to make their way from obscurity to prominence. It can be argued that the personal politics of Rush Limbaugh are offensive, or James Belushi's opinion of female cigar smokers is chauvinistic, but that in itself does not prove them to be offensive chauvinists, nor does it diminish their accomplishments.
It has been my experience that people will too often pre-judge. As a young African-American man making his way on Wall Street, I've caught my share of "who's he supposed to be!" glares while walking down the street with a lit Macanudo Portofino between my teeth. However, in keeping with the spirit of the people you've profiled, I will neither apologize for the way in which I carry myself (damn good, if I do say so), nor for my tastes, which I take great pleasure in cultivating. More often than not I want to say to those self-righteous masses who would begrudge me, "@#$! you if you can't take a joke!"
Anyone that targets and tags an individual as being anything solely on the basis of their public personas is in my opinion no better than the negative images they project on their subjects. Discrimin-ation without thorough examination is wrong, and unfortunately any person who is either a minority or represents a minority view is a prime candidate for this type of scrutiny.
I am not so naive to believe that beneath the exterior of every sinister cigar smoker hides a warm and fuzzy "Teddy Bear." These things in and of themselves do not give me the right to diminish the strides these men have made to be in positions enabling them to affect audiences globally and nationally. My perceptive abilities are not so perfect that I can look into another man's heart and qualify his soul. A man's politics is one of many barometers for determining the caliber of his character, but by no means the final arbiter. Cigar smokers as a group are stereotyped as being many things, but the reality is we are simply people that enjoy one of nature's treasures--whether politically correct or not.
I believe that people should be judged not only by their outward appearances, but for the content of their character.
Byron Joel Collier
New York, New York
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I was on spring break in Tucson, Arizona, from my college in Michigan. I had not had the chance to spend much time with my mother since the previous summer, so we decided to make this vacation a rather eventful one. The temperature all week had been in the mid-70s; I could not have asked for better weather. We had gone for several hikes and taken in all the local attractions and had a wonderful time. Two days before I was to return to school, my mother and I decided to pack some bread and cheese and head up to the foothills to watch the sun set.
We arrived at a small pass to the west of town where there is a small park that overlooks both the city and the barren landscape of the neighboring valley. We sat there for a while as we sipped on wine in between bites of bread and cheese.
We spoke of the past and of the future as we gazed at the brilliant orange sphere disappearing into the desert floor. The scene was one of the most magnificent I had ever seen. When I was finished with my meal, I reached into my camera bag and dug out an Avo I had just bought that day. My mother sat close by peering over my shoulder, as all mothers do, and watched as I lit the cigar. It was not long after that, and to my surprise, that she calmly called my name and proceeded to ask me if I had another. I let out a short laugh and continued to enjoy my cigar. It was not until the second time she asked that I thought she could be serious. She looked at me for a moment and, not really knowing what to think, I grabbed another cigar from my bag. After a few simple instructions I had her well on her way to the enjoyment of a good cigar.
We sat there for about an hour or more, just talking about anything that came into our heads. We talked and smoked, and for some reason I was not talking to the woman who had once warned me of the perils of smoking, I was talking to a close friend. That night we said very little as we drove back to the city, but I felt that I could have told her anything, and she would have understood what I meant. I have not had the chance to have another cigar with her since then, and consequently, every cigar I have had since that night seems to taste a little more spicy and a little more special to me. If anyone ever has the opportunity to share a cigar with their mother, I suggest they take it right away. Moments that meaningful don't come by too often.
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