Cigar Aficionado

Old Friends

I had a great phone call last week. I was sitting at my desk, finishing up one of my mystery tasting panel cigars (it wasn’t very good), and I answered the phone to find Marcos Padrón, from Padrón Cigars in Miami. He asked if I had a moment, because he had some guy in the shop who said he knew me from my high school days in Gainesville, Florida. “He says you were on the basketball team,” Marcos said, “and he’d like to talk to you.” I said sure, put him on, because he had enough of the facts right to be someone who really did know me.

Now, it’s always a little unsettling to hear a voice that you’ve maybe heard once in the last 37 years and you know immediately who it is before they say their name. “Hi, it’s Chris Wilmot,” the voice said, even though I already knew it was him. We bantered a bit about using my name in public places, and reminisced some about the good ole days at Gainesville High School.

Chris is a subscriber and a cigar smoker. He’s a small business owner in Florida, living in Orlando now, and he was on a business trip in Miami. After seeing the Jan/Feb issue’s pick of the Padrón 1926 No. 9 as the Cigar of the Year, he decided to stop by the store and pick up a box. And he decided to ask the guys there if they knew me. He told me how he loves the magazine, and how much fun it has been to follow my exploits.

I won’t ever forget my 30th high school reunion, when Chris declined to carry out his traditional class role as Masters of Ceremonies and someone thought it would be fun to ask me to take his place. Those are two scary thoughts: My 30th high school reunion (and it wasn’t yesterday, by the way), and me a gathering of people who, for the most part, I had not seen frequently in the previous 30 years. Fortunately, there were a few people there from our 1969 State Championship basketball team (Go Canes!), and a few other familiar faces including some of my old flames. And Chris helped move things along from the audience with his trademark wit and humor.

Maybe it’s not the same for you, but I love these connections made through the magazine, or for that matter, the Internet. I’m not so obsessed that I’ve gone the premium membership route at, but it is fun every now and then to get a message out of the blue from someone you knew a long time ago. Just recently, a relative by marriage, with whom I hadn’t been in touch with in years because he lives in Europe, wrote me a wonderful letter at Christmas, saying he’d found me on the Internet.

I guess my nostalgia for this sort of contact is another sign of middle age, but in this modern era of vast communications networks why not take advantage of it?

If you’re reading this, and you know me from somewhere back down the road, drop me a line. I will respond. And, I’ll enjoy doing it.

"Gordon, are any of your friends still alive." —January 23, 2008 16:07 PM