Cigar Aficionado

Memorial Day

What a great weekend. I swam, I fished, I barbecued and I had an extremely relaxing time. I think I spent all of ten minutes inside.

The highlight was Sunday. It began with the Memorial Day parade, where our little town puts on a big show. My wife, little boy and I walked into town just before the start of the parade, taking our spots in front of the local market. First came the antique cars, then the fire trucks (a big hit with my boy) and the veterans of World War II, followed by school marching bands and the local Little Leaguers. At the end, the thump of rotors brought everyone’s eyes to the sky as a pair of army helicopters did a fly by, which was stunning.

After the parade, we went back home, and I fired up the gas grill. We were hosting a cookout for a bunch of friends and their children. We were worried about the weather—the forecast called for scattered showers, and we really weren’t set up for entertaining inside. But we moved forward. I threw on some dogs, and checked the brisket and chicken I had smoked the night before. The brisket was looking perfect, black and smoky after nine hours in the Weber smoker (I used mostly hickory chunk, with a touch of mesquite). The chicken legs were ready for round two, a little oven finishing to make them fall-off-the-bone tender. My wife was putting the finishing touches on a feta cheese dip and some bean salad, and she had made a batch of homemade macadamia nut cookies the night before. (I like to blame these little disks of joy for my love handles.) The keg of Miller High Life was just reaching optimal temperature.

The guests started to arrive. The kids took to the toys in the yard—the sandbox and a bucket of soap bubbles in particular. I handed out cigars to my friends and we poured a few cold beers.

The rain stayed away, despite heavy showers hitting south and north of us. (Friends who live 20 minutes north told me that they had torrential downpours that very afternoon.) The only showers in my backyard that day came when one of the children (there were 13 in all, most between the ages of four and six!) discovered that the garden hose was on, and the water war was engaged. Every child became very, very wet—and they had a blast.

After everyone had their fill of homemade barbecue, burgers, dogs, and dessert, the kids set up a little Wiffle Ball game and the men pulled up chairs in the lawn to watch, while puffing away on Bolivar Petit Coronas, La Aroma de Cuba Edición Especial Minutos and My Father No. 3s. As I sat there watching the children running around and laughing, I couldn’t help but remember the dozens of Memorial Day picnics I went to as a boy, days where I never saw the inside of a house, each meal was eaten in a rush so I could get back to the games and the day ended with a bit of sunburn and fantastic memories.

At the very end of the day, with most of the guests gone, I sat down in one of those chairs with my final cigar, a La Flor Dominicana Salomon. I had a cool glass of beer in my hand. I was sitting next to my friend Mark. My wife was by the gate, saying goodbye to someone.

My little boy pulled up a chair of his own, putting it right next to mine and taking a seat. He was smiling. “Did you have a good day?” asked Mark.

“Yes,” my son said with enthusiasm. “It was awesome!”

I hope your Memorial Day was as good as mine.