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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Winston Churchill, Autumn 93

Dear Marvin:

I am 25 years old. I am a programmer by trade, a college student, a devoted husband and a loving father. Being as young as I am, I don't feel as if I am in the average cigar-smoking crowd. I was very happy to pick up your magazine and read that I'm not the only young cigar smoker. Your magazine made me very proud to be in that group even though I get many frowns and head shaking. I do have an interesting cigar story for you.

My son, Jonathan, was born on August 2, 1992, and I immediately went out and bought two boxes of Macanudos to celebrate the occasion. That weekend a close friend of mine was getting married. He had six bridesmaids and six groomsmen, and all were close friends of mine. The average age in our group was 23. Well, after the ceremony, we went to a hotel ballroom for the reception, and since it was an elegant occasion I gave all my friends a celebration cigar. I figured after a good meal we could toast the newly married couple and the birth of my son. After the meal, we all sat back and lit up. Next thing I knew, my friend (the groom) came up to our table and told me to put out the cigars because we were annoying others. And Marvin, we had just lit them. It's funny how some people are "repulsed" by the stench of a cigar when it hasn't been lit. Anyway, I proceeded to tell him why we were all toasting, thinking he would join in. He told us to either put them out or leave. So we left. All of his groomsmen and ushers walked out. Even the best man, the groom's brother, went with us. We spent the rest of the night in the hotel bar, toasting and enjoying the Macanudos.

What an evening! I really hate what happened but sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in, and I firmly believe in letting an individual enjoy his or her indulgence--not to mention that I was and still am a proud father.

Phillip Gerringer
Greensboro, North Carolina

Editor's Response: Twenty years ago it was traditional at weddings, bar mitzvahs and births to celebrate by handing out cigars. It was as much a tradition as champagne before a meal. Somehow the joy and fun associated with a cigar have been overshadowed by people who lack even an occasional moment of understanding. You took a very strong stand for what you believe. I understand; I've been there myself on occasion.

* * *

Dear Marvin:

My male companion brought your CIGAR AFICIONADO home and I read it from cover to cover. I read it in bed and found it rather interesting on other topics besides cigars. I myself am a tall, beautiful Croatian woman in my 30s. I get terribly excited when I see a man put a cigar in his mouth and when he plays with it and wets the tip. There is something wonderful about the whole thing. It can drive a woman nuts.

J. Marie Andacic
New York, New York

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Congratulations on a stellar first year of publication. I was elated when I saw the story on CNN Headline News about the launch of this magazine dedicated to one of the world's great pleasures...cigars. As soon as the piece was over, I ran to my telephone to call the area bookstores to see which, if any, had this magnificent periodical on their shelves. After two misses, I found a store with several copies and made a mad dash to the other side of town to acquire my first issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO.

When I left the shop, I was beaming from ear to ear. I rushed to my car and flew back home. You may be asking why I didn't just read it right there in the parking lot. I would have, had it not been early September in Orlando, Florida. Also, in my haste to get to the store, I left my house without any cigars. I wanted to enjoy reading this newfound friend with a Partagas No. 10 and a cool libation, so it was back to the hacienda for me.

I spent the next several hours devouring the magazine and two Partagas No. 10's and loved every minute of it.

In February, I left Orlando and moved back to Southern California after almost 11 years in Florida. I am in a new job as a voice-over actor for animation in radio and television commercials. During my tenure in Orlando I had several different jobs, but my last job has to be the envy of cigar smokers everywhere.

In June 1990, I auditioned for Universal Studios Florida to portray one of my childhood idols, W.C. Fields, a great comedian, world-class juggler and cigar aficionado. I landed the role and was told to bring the great man to life in every respect. I asked whether that meant that I could smoke cigars just as W.C. Fields did and was told that not only would they allow me to smoke cigars but that I would be reimbursed by the company for my cigars. What a beautiful job. Being given carte blanche to smoke my cigars, insult every guest (tourist) within the sound of my voice and smite little children upon the sconce when they came within reach of my cane. Glorious, simply glorious.

During my two years and eight months that I was in the employ of U.S.F., I met cigar lovers from all over the world. Whenever they saw me and my cigar coming, an instant camaraderie existed whether or not they knew who W.C. Fields was. I met many wonderful men and women from all over the world who love cigars and never hesitated to let me know about their passion for good cigars. I got several offers to trade jobs. I also got more than my fair share of subtle and not so subtle "hints" that my cigar was not welcome. Those times are far outweighed by the wonderful conversations and friendships with my fellow cigar aficionados.

One story in particular is worth mentioning.

I received an invitation to appear before a gathered throng of conventioneers. I accepted the engagement. During the course of the evening my duties were to mix and mingle with the crowd. As always, my cigar was lit.

In one particular room, filled with special dignitaries to the convention, I was seated at a table with four charming women, regaling them with tall tales and several jokes. Suddenly, an old shrew crawled over to our table and demanded that I put out my cigar. She informed me that they had passed some rule that had outlawed cigar smoking at their conventions. She then shoved a glass of water at me and began to bray that my cigar smelled bad and I would have to put it out in the glass of water. She was saying all this while smoking a cigarette.

I stood up, squared myself, and looked the old battle-ax right in the eye and said in my best W.C. Fields voice: "My dear, if you want the cigar out, you only have to ask. But this verbal sewage you are spewing in my direction regarding my cigar is uncalled for. You, my little Rocky Mountain canary, are crazy. And I, in all probability, am drunk. However, in the morning I will be sober, and you'll be crazy for the rest of your life."

With that I bid a fond farewell to my friends at the table and strolled out of the room to the sound of thunderous applause. I had made an impression on the entire room. One of the muckety-mucks found me later and thanked me for putting that woman in her place because they had been trying for years without success to do what I had done in a matter of minutes. He offered me one of his cigars and we chatted for about five minutes about our love of cigars.

We have all suffered someone like the woman I encountered, be they male or female. But we can now take solace in the pages of Brother Shanken's publication, as we now know where we can light up without fear of repercussion from anyone who would have us put out our cigar in a glass of water.

Keep up the good work, Marvin. The beacon at the end of your double corona shines for all of us in the dim, but thankfully not yet dark world of personal freedoms. Long may it burn.

Bob Joles
Arcadia, California

* * *

Dear Marvin:

I'm very pleased with CIGAR AFICIONADO. It lends conviviality to a dignified enjoyment that our time is leaving behind in its neurotic rush to embrace ways to exist longer, as if that were the same as living well.

John A. Rippo
Publisher, The Espresso, San Diego's coffeehouse and cafe newspaper

* * *

Dear Marvin:

Several years ago when my oldest boy had just passed his test for a black belt in tai kwon do karate, we found ourselves on the beach at Zuma, north of Malibu. This was apparently the custom with the master of the studio. The day after a big test, he would invite everyone to picnic in the beach to celebrate and join in the camaraderie. That day my family and I were joined by approximately 15 black belts, the master and their respective families and boyfriends and girlfriends. I sat in a beach chair and lit up a beautiful Churchill cigar from La Gloria Cubana. Everyone was in a wonderful mood. We must have appeared as a very loose group, if a group at all, since we were spread out and of a great variety of races and types, predominately Korean.

My heritage is Italian-American and my wife is English and Italian. Our children look very American. Not long before I had created a small corona of ash, a loud voice about 600 yards behind us shouted, "Hey you, put out that cigar; it stinks." I could not believe my ears. I turned to see four men in their 20s. I am in my 40s. The fellow who had addressed me acknowledged my look with, "Yeah, you, I'm talking to you, with the cigar." I smiled, turned my head back to the beach front and our friends and family and ignored them. No one could be serious about asking me to put out a cigar on the beach in the open air, or so I thought. But the voice came back to haunt me. "Hey asshole. You deaf. I said put out the cigar; it stinks." I turned again to see this macho youth standing and pointing at me. "Yeah, I'm talking to you, fatso." I rose out of my chair. He had aroused the boy from Brooklyn in me, the boy who was tristate champion in wrestling in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. The boy, who, as a youth loaded steel for his father in a junkyard. The extra poundage I now carry often gives me the appearance of being overweight and, in fact I am, but I am not out of shape or speed or strength. My wife gave me a worried look. "What are you going to do?" she asked. "Don't start anything, hon, there are four of them, you know." I replied, "I've got eyes. Don't worry, I won't start anything, but I may have to finish it."

Now, I am not a man of violence. I believe in the Chinese philosophy, "when a man has run out of words, he has run out of options." The four lads approached. I stood my ground and puffed away. "Hey, you're killing us with that smell. Are you going to put that out or are we going to have to put it out for you?" "Have a nice funeral," I said. I stepped off the blanket as the four lads approached; they surrounded me in a semicircle and I got nose to nose with the voice of the group. "Well," he demanded. "Are you going to put that out or are we going to put it out or what?" I leaned in and spoke to him in a very calm and quiet voice. "Listen," I said, "if you should be so unfortunate as to start something with me and even more unfortunate to get a lucky punch in before I get all four of you jerks, I want you to take a good look at all the people around me. They are all black belts and my personal friends. They would not take it very kindly if you were to strike me." As he swallowed hard and his buddies' eyes opened wide in worry at the reality, I continued: "Now if I were you, I would take this hand (offering him my hand) and shake it, smile and apologize, and go crawl back into the hole you came out of." He smiled, took my hand and in a funny strained laugh, said, "We were only kidding." The master at this point turned to me and asked whether there was a problem. I looked at these four youths, now very changed in attitude, and I smiled at the master, "No, there's no problem at all."


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