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Out of the Humidor

| By CA Readers | From Maduro Issue, Winter 93/94

Dear Marvin:

After my first wife died, I made a habit of smoking my first cigar in bed before breakfast. When I was making the decision for my second marriage, I wanted to make sure that I would still be able to continue to do this, so as part of our prenuptial agreement, it was included that I could smoke a cigar before breakfast in my bed. However, I was very accommodating. I had an air conditioner installed right over my head, and I'd put the fan on so it would draw out most of the smoke.

Sidney E. Frank
New Rochelle, New York

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Dear Marvin:

I'm sitting in my office this morning with a cup of coffee, a Hoyo de Monterrey and CIGAR AFICIONADO. While reading letters from my cigar-smoking compatriots, what a relief to discover that I am not alone.

Having smoked cigars for more than 20 years, I have experienced every form of abuse you could imagine. My wife and family are insidious in their disdain. My employees accept it only for obvious reasons. Strangers are abusive and often militant.

Over the years, I have retreated (with many cigars) to the only remaining safe haven: my office. It is here, I decided, that I would make my last stand. Resolute yet courteous, I even made an effort to accommodate visitors to my office on the top floor of a 22-story building. I had a very powerful exhaust blower installed directly over my desk. Days later, building management conducted a search to discover the origin of the cigar scent throughout the building. They discovered that the installers, instead of venting through the roof, had vented to the mechanical shaft that runs from the top to the bottom of the building. Each time an elevator ran, it created a vacuum, which sucked the air (and my cigar smoke) down the mechanical shaft, spreading it throughout the building.

Imagine my surprise and anger! More than 600 building occupants had been participating in my private moments of unadulterated bliss. I felt violated. My indignation increased with the realization that these people were undeserving of the experience. I had unknowingly exposed them to the scent of a culture that they could never hope to comprehend.

Needless to say, I took quick, decisive action to assure that these malcontents would never have such an opportunity again. Brutal, yes, but they caused my exile, and I'll be damned if they will share my private pleasure.

Philip N. Spencer
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Dear Marvin:

Your response to the woman who was concerned about the possible ill-health effect of cigar smoking might have been incomplete. There are at least two other factors that must be considered in the cigar/pipe versus cigarette debate. The first factor is easy to understand: cigarettes contain many carcinogenic ingredients. Cigars and pipe tobacco, on the other hand, will be recognized in 20 or 25 years as one of the most benign products extant: all natural ingredients, 100 percent biodegradable, replenishable and salutary.

The second factor is, perhaps, much more telling. For purposes of life-insurance coverage, pipe and cigar smokers who don't smoke cigarettes can receive the nonsmokers' preferred rate from many companies. Think about that. The people who pay actuaries very good money to know precisely when you can be expected to drop dead have determined that pipe and cigar smoking is not detrimental to health. Need more be said?

Marty Pulvers
San Francisco, California

Editor's Response: You're absolutely right. Let's go one step further. If any cigar or pipe-only smokers are not getting preferred rates from their insurance company, they can switch to one that provides it. Send the message that you want equal treatment. Some insurance companies that do not penalize cigar smokers are Northwestern Mutual Life, American General and Prudential. There are many others too. Check them out.

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Dear Marvin:

I was introduced to your magazine and cigar smoking during the summer on a weekend visit with a friend. After witnessing his delight in a good cigar and the new issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO, I became interested in developing my own appreciation for cigars.

Upon returning home from my visit, I immediately went out and bought an issue for myself. I took it home to my father, whom I had known to enjoy an occasional cigar. To his surprise, I told him I wanted to try a cigar with him sometime. Within that same week, he and I were standing outside on a clear, quiet evening, smoking a cigar. I don't think that sharing a cigar with his 21 -year-old daughter was something my father ever expected to do, but that is exactly what we did throughout the summer.

I have since moved to a place of my own to begin graduate school, 900 miles away from my dad. I know that our cigar smoking was a special exchange that few fathers and daughters share, and it is an event that I look forward to taking place again. I believe that he and I would not have taken up cigar smoking had it not been for the way your magazine has presented the beauty of the cigar and the pleasure it provides.

I have just furnished my new apartment with a new copy of the summer CIGAR AFICIONADO, and I have christened this home with its first cigar. I have also ordered subscriptions for myself and my father.

CIGAR AFICIONADO is a lovely magazine, and it is almost as relaxing as the cigar itself. Because I am a student with a tendency to stress out constantly, you can imagine happiness at finding such calming pastimes as smoking a cigar and reading this magazine.

Melissa Richey
Boulder, Colorado

Editor's Response: It's great to know that there are young women like you out there who understand.

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Dear Marvin:

For more than a decade, my company was blessed with dramatic and sustained growth, only to be staggered by the economic downturn of the '90s. The fact that I have gone from 100 employees to two is sufficient evidence of the fall.

Prior to a recent meeting with bankers to whom we are in default, my attorney warned me not to arrive in a luxury car or to wear an expensive suit, gold watch, or carry a pocketful of my beloved Davidoffs. Sound advice, which nevertheless depressed me as I reflected that it had, indeed, "come to this."

Every success often becomes meaningless, or worse, a taunting reminder in the face of failure. Adjusting to reality may be a painful, guilt-ridden but necessary trip on the road to recovery. I found myself questioning my right to smoke fine cigars and began to buy much cheaper ones, thus feeding my dour mood. A friend pointed out that I was doing everything possible to help the situation and should not deny myself the occasional satisfaction of a great dinner and a fine cigar. I took his advice.

Marvin, I love your magazine. I once fit on the high end of your readers' profile, and I hope to be there again. I'm sure you have many other subscribers who are similarly afflicted. To them, my best advice is not to punish yourself for things that are now history. Don't succumb to the false economy of smoking cheap cigars; instead, enjoy your favorites on a less frequent basis and think of it as a temporary setback.

Kevin Geller
Milton, Massachusetts

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Dear Marvin:

The world is a crazy place. Within a few days of being hit with a spray bottle for smoking a cigar at the pool of the condominium in which I live, I was enjoying dinner at a fine restaurant when the following took place. I kid you not.

Dinner finished, I ordered a Calvados and, secure in the knowledge that I was in the smoking section of a cigar-friendly restaurant, I lit up a Churchill from a forbidden source. A few moments later, I noticed a woman seated on the far side of the restaurant in an animated discussion with the maître d', pointing her finger at me.

I braced for the usual tirade and then noticed she was changing tables. She was escorted to a table next to mine where she ordered coffee and an after-dinner drink. Not a word passed between us, and when she left, I asked the maître d' what it was all about. "She likes the smell of a good cigar. Says it reminds her of her husband of many years," he replied.

You figure it out. Had the woman at the pool asked, I would have put out my cigar without being treated to a free bath. Had the woman in the restaurant opened a conversation, I would have probably enjoyed talking with her about how aromas can trigger fond memories.

Arnold Smith
Washington, D.C.

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Dear Marvin:

Alas, I am sorry to say I have a sad story to tell.

About two months ago, my longtime girlfriend and I decided to part ways. Without really looking in a few boxes I thought contained only her belongings, I sent her on her way. Later, I discovered, much to my dismay, that in one of the boxes were my last few Hoyo De Monterrey Churchills that I had managed to import from Geneva when I visited there over the summer.

So now my girl is gone and my smokes are gone. Damn, I'm going to miss those cigars.

Al Raymond
Glendale, Arizona

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Dear Marvin:

I have many times been the recipient of dirty looks, nasty comments and long stares for taking a good solid draw on my favorite Davidoff Cuban, and I mean not only from my wife. However, my ultimate anticigar experience was when I traded in my Acura Legend for a new car. The air in my trade-in was a still a bit fresh (some might say stale) as I had recently finished one of my cherished Davidoffs. Well, imagine my surprise when the sales manager told me that I would be getting $1,000 less because it was a cigar smoker's car. That was the most expensive Davidoff I have ever smoked.

Y. Isaac Applebaum
Sacramento, California

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Dear Marvin:

On a recent radio broadcast, Rush Limbaugh related how he was having dinner with Phoenix Suns' coach Paul Westphal at Patsy's restaurant in New York City, and when they lit up after-dinner cigars, two women at a nearby table went ballistic and complained to the head waiter about the cigar smoke. The women were moved to another area of the restaurant where they wouldn't be bothered by the cigar smoke. Limbaugh and Westphal observed the women as they proceeded to chain-smoke cigarettes until Limbaugh and Westphal left. The way Limbaugh told the story was hilarious.

Clinton Sundberg
North Hollywood, California

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Dear Marvin:

My husband and I enjoy your wonderful magazine together. He introduced me to cigars four years ago on our honeymoon. Because we were on a cruise in the Caribbean (international waters), I was able to savor a Montecristo No. 2 as my first cigar.

My letter is in response to Janice MacDonald, who wrote to you saying she smokes in private because of too many stares and comments. I'm also writing to all cigar-

smoking women with the same problem who feel they must stay in the closet.

I, too, have received numerous comments about how "unladylike" it is to smoke a cigar even though men who do so are considered "gentlemen." My response is simple: there is no scientific evidence to suggest that a woman's taste buds are any different from a man s. I have yet to hear anyone argue with that.

Gina Bennett
Alexandria, Virginia

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Dear Marvin:

I recently had some "cigar" experiences I'd like to share with you and other stogie lovers.

Recently, my then fiancée and I went to Nantucket Island to be married and celebrate our honeymoon. One gorgeous, sun-filled evening (three days before we were to be married) we walked out of our room, no more than 75 feet from the ocean, and set up our cocktail hour on the beach. There we were, a bottle of 1982 Dom Perignon, our own shining, soft-sanded beach, sapphire-blue and skies a Havana Punch I had recently brought back from London. About an hour into the evening, while taking inventory of my life, as I was to be married in 72 hours, I looked at my beautiful bride-to-be. There she was puffing away on my stogie. I wondered if it could get any better than this.

It did. Three nights later at our festive wedding reception, my wife Susan and I were having a grand time when our good friend Joe Z. pulled me aside. He said he had a very special gift that I had to open right away. I unwrapped the box and discovered a box of 40-year-old Romeo y Julieta Havanas in their original plastic-wrapped, aged box. The box was beautiful and the aroma even more sensuous. As we opened the box, the detailed packaging was amazing. I know we were in for a real treat. Joe Z., Benny, another cigar connoisseur and myself headed out to the front porch of the inn to light up. We all knew we were sharing a special moment. The smooth, delicate flavor of the 40-year-old Romeo y Julietas was indescribable. They are truly the best cigars I've ever had the privilege to enjoy. I wish I could share one with all of your readers. A few puffs later, my wife joined us. As I mentioned earlier, she is not totally innocent when it come to cigars; in fact she is partial to Cohibas. When Susan joined us and took a puff, she quickly realized what we were experiencing.

When we received our proofs book from the photographer, we were ecstatic to see that he had captured this special moment in his lens. Of course, it was one of the photos selected for our wedding album. What a way to start a marriage.

Robert Bordash
Greenwich, Connecticut

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Dear Marvin:

I have just discovered your magazine and think it's great, except that, like all men on the subject of cigars, it is sexist.

I am a young, female computer professional. As a girl, I occasionally "liberated" cigars (mainly Romeo y Julietas) from my father's desk and learned the noble art of cigar smoking. Later when I moved into a shared flat, I would secretly indulge in the luxury of a good cigar as a special treat or just a pick-me-up. So that my flatmates would not discover my "dark secret," I did most of my smoking in parks. I tried bars, but the sight of a lone lady enjoying her cigar seemed always to attract men's comments and stares.

Now that I have moved into my own home I can, and do, smoke whenever I want to, but until recently it has always been when I was alone. A few months back, my youngest sister turned up while I was halfway through a Dunhill Corona, and I was forced to confess my dreadful secret. Her reaction amazed me. She took a tubed panetela from her bag and lit up. It turns out that she, too, experimented with my father's cigars and secretly adored them.

Between puffs we agreed that it is men's sexist reaction to we female cigar smokers that forces us to hide and feel guilty. But no more! From that day on, we both came out" and now blow smoke into the faces of those men who think we should not smoke. For the sake of all women, please dispel the myth that cigars are for men only. If you were to publish articles and pictures that depict women smoking cigars, I do believe your readership would double.

Bev Thomas
Warwickshire, England

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Dear Marvin:

Your magazine's "Out of the Humidor" section is one of the best and most enjoyable features in the magazine.

I especially enjoyed the letter from the man in California who described the clean-up process that he goes through to placate his wife after he smokes a cigar.

My ex-wife made a demand on me: either the cigars or her. My second wife has made no such demands. In fact, she cannot. The third paragraph of our prenuptial agreement gives me the unfettered right to smoke cigars without an elaborate postsmoke wash-up procedure. Legal disputes over that particular clause are by the law of Cuba.

Harry N. Turk
New York, New York

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Dear Marvin:

I would like to share with you an incident that occurred this past spring. I was at home studying for my final examination in statistics to be held the next morning. While I am a good student, this particular course had been giving me trouble. I was nervous and irritable when the postman arrived. He provided all the excuse I needed to get away from my desk.

Finding the latest edition of CIGAR AFICIONADO in the mail lifted my spirits considerably. I selected a Montecruz Colossus, the largest cigar in my humidor, donned my slippers, put up my feet and for the next hour or so relaxed with my smoke and enjoyed your magazine from cover to cover. I took special delight in the profile on Groucho; the levity was just what I needed.

When, sadly, my cigar was finished, I returned to my studies. However, I did so with renewed confidence and energy. Much of my frustration had become smoke and ash. The hour I spent with that cigar and your magazine did as much for me as a good night's sleep.

When my grades arrived this summer, I opened the envelope with confidence: I knew I had done well enough to pass statistics. But an "A"!

I cannot prove it, statistically speaking, but I have no doubt that the time spent in relaxation and meditation with a fine cigar that spring afternoon contributed greatly to my success the next day.

C. T. Bradley
San Francisco, California

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Dear Marvin:

There is a lack of tolerance and respect for tradition in our society. I always thought there were at least three times in one's life when it was not only tolerable to smoke a cigar, but customary: births, weddings and funerals. At our wedding, we had a box of Macanudos on the bar, and whenever I have been fortunate to have been invited to be a groomsman, I have always brought cigars befitting the occasion. The vast majority of weddings that my wife and I have attended have included cigars as part of the celebration.

As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I have had the privilege to deliver hundreds of babies (and have received exactly two cigars). And when I suggest to parents that giving cigars is still appropriate after the birth, I am met with looks of disgust and amazement.

In our ever more politically correct society, even reading this magazine in public attracts anticigar criticism.

Peter L. Stevenson
Dearborn, Michigan

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Dear Marvin:

I live in Windsor, Ontario, which borders on Detroit. On a recent trip to Toronto, I was given four Cuban cigars purchased by a friend's father on a trip to Cuba. I returned to Windsor with my friend, and we kept the cigars in the trunk of his car.

On the day following my return, we were to visit an old university friend in a nearby town and decided to take the cigars there and have a reunion smoke. Before leaving, we decided to cross over to Detroit and fill up on gas. Halfway across the bridge, I realized we still had the four Cuban cigars in the trunk. We didn't think we'd be pulled over so we went on.

Let me assure you that Murphy's Law is well founded and true, because the guard at the post asked us to pull over and see an immigration official for what turned out to be an inconsequential matter. But once there, we were asked to open the trunk of the car, and upon being questioned about the cigars, my friend spilled the beans. The customs officers looked at each other, practically licking their chops at the harassment opportunity.

In a very authoritative tone and condescending manner, we were informed of several possible actions, none of which could be described as hospitable, that they could decide to take. First, we were to go inside the office and resolve the immigration matter. As mentioned, that was dismissed immediately, and a more courteous customs officer approached us.

Upon hearing the story, he said we could either dump the cigars and go to Detroit or keep them and return to Canada. We chose the former, and upon a little insistence, he even allowed us to smoke two on the spot while the other two would be "destroyed." We were escorted out to the car, where we reluctantly handed over two and clipped and puffed on the other two. While lighting up, we chuckled over the irony of smoking Cubans in the United States with the knowledge and consent of the government.

Well, no more than two puffs later, one of the original customs officers came up to us saying that we were now in big trouble. He made us destroy the cigars and dispose of them. Meanwhile, the immigration officer who had witnessed us getting the consent came out and shamed the customs officer for being ignorant. It was too late--the cigars were destroyed, and being too disgusted to even protest, we left.

I don't mind the idiosyncrasies of government as much as the fact that four pieces of hand crafted ecstasy were destroyed.

Arvind Kumar Kohli
Windsor, Ontario

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Dear Marvin:

A few weeks ago, just the thought of someone smoking a cigar appalled me. If there was one thing worse than cigarettes, it was cigars. It has taken me several years to recover from the shock of learning that a friend of mine had avidly taken to cigars. I recently presented him with a three-year gift subscription to CIGAR AFICIONADO. To obtain a subscription card, I purchased a copy of your magazine. Now that I've read the issue cover to cover, my attitude toward quality cigars has changed completely. I never realized the fine art that's involved in crafting, let alone choosing a quality smoke. Moreover, the enjoyment of a quality cigar is not a trivial matter. Now I'm looking forward to enjoying my first Romeo y Julieta.

Robert Perlstein
Medford, Massachusetts

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Dear Marvin:

Three years ago, my Swiss friend invited me to his annual summer party here in Tokyo. With the party ending, selected guests were invited to his office. Everyone was looking at him walking alongside the conference table. Sitting at the far end was a majestic humidor. Everyone exclaimed they were enchanted. One by one, we were invited to select a cigar--all Cubans of course. It was the beginning of my second love. Of course my first love accepts this and is a fan of my second love, too.

When I had the chance to visit my headquarters located in Geneva, I didn't miss the opportunity to give myself a humidor for Christmas. On top of that, last October, a cigar aficionado decided to open the first cigar club in Tokyo. You can choose from a selected variety of Cubans, smoke them at the club, accompany them with a good drink or stock them in your personal humidor at the club.

As soon as I heard of it, I became a member. We meet interesting people at the club, but one common negative is that most members have intolerant wives. Solution: to place my wife as the club's official public-relations manager. It won't hurt except that it is still me who pays for her Cohibas. Conclusion: it's probably a glory to have two loves.

Michel Descent
Tokyo, Japan

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Dear Marvin:

I am an offshore paramedic, and unlike many of your readers, my wife doesn't mind one bit if I light up a good cigar in "her" home. I just don't understand why all these influential people (like our president) can't work out something so they can smoke in their own homes.

Even the oil company I am contracted to has banned smoking in all company buildings. So I retire in the evenings to the porch swing at our living quarters to smoke and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. It is the perfect stress reliever after a hard day at the office. Working two weeks on and two weeks off, I pack all the issues of your magazine almost everywhere I go and find myself rereading them. Four issues a year just isn't enough.

Thanks for such a fine magazine.

J. Todd Wind
Nederland, Texas

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Dear Marvin:

I am a subscriber and admirer of your fine magazine When a new issue arrives, I usually disregard my Times and opt for picking out a prime corona from my humidor, going to my balcony and lighting up while slowly perusing my cherished new CIGAR AFICIONADO. I particularly enjoy your "Out of the Humidor" section. Although I'm rarely inclined to write to magazines, I do enjoy reading other people's views and opinions on a wide variety of issues.

I had not taken offense with anything printed in your magazine until I read your Summer 1993 editorial. I have been arguing against the American misogynist attitude toward our first lady since day one. A strong woman in the White House should not be perceived as threatening to cigar smokers or any other American for that matter. Hillary is a hard worker with strong convictions and ideals. That should make all Americans proud.

I have a nonsmoking wife who respects my right to smoke cigars. We have a nonsmoking policy in our apartment as does the White House. I am fortunate enough to have a balcony where my friends, guests and I enjoy our cigars. I find no philosophical quandary in this arrangement as you do in reference to the White House policy.

All this said, my offense comes from the inference that President Clinton is a wimp for allowing such a policy because he is a cigar smoker. As logic follows, that makes me and I'm sure a lot of other American smokers out there wimps as well. I feel it is my duty to write this letter offering a different point of view.

First and foremost, smoke in any form is destructive. It is destructive for painted walls and wallpaper; it is destructive for hanging works of art; it is especially destructive for sensitive electrical circuits such as those found in expensive communication, computer and audio/video equipment. Smoke tends to be absorbed by furniture and curtains, permeating the fabric and leaving an odor that is usually sprayed with aerosols that further contaminate the air, which is so precious for all indoor-dwelling humans.

Don't get me wrong, Marvin. I am a smoker and as such, I am in strong support of having well-ventilated public areas for people to indulge their right to smoke cigars and pipes as well as cigarettes. My real disagreement with your point of view is how we perceive the White House. You consider it a country club; I see it as residential home and historic shrine. I don't believe there is a museum in this country that allows smoking. Like them, I find the effects of smoke compromising to the well being of my home. So, like President Clinton, I live in a smoke-free environment, yet I do love smoking my cigars in the great outdoors.

As for your suggestion to allow smoking in the White House dining area, there would have to be designated smoking areas to comply with the national trend. Think about it, Marvin. Segregating smokers from nonsmokers in the White House is not going to help foreign policy. There is enough segregation on the issues alone. This would only exacerbate problems in the diplomatic process.

Keep up the otherwise great work you're doing with CIGAR AFICIONADO.

Steve Vavagiakis
New York, New York

Editor's Response: All cigar smokers, including President Clinton, need to stand up for their rights. I never said he was a wimp, but he should carve out a space for his pleasures. Moreover, there wasn't one word of Hillary-bashing in my column; she is a hard-working professional. We just happen to disagree on our attitudes toward cigars, and civilized people in a democracy should be able to disagree.

I can't say I agree with your characterization of the White House as a museum. It is a thriving, vibrant home to our nation's leader and his family. Many presidents before him smoked cigars and the house is still intact. Let's keep it for the people ... all the people, including cigar smokers.

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Dear Marvin:

I'm a classical-music D.J., the music director for a fine-arts radio station here in Pensacola, Florida, and a longtime lover of cigars. One of the things about being on the radio is the constant surprise I encounter when I meet listeners. Announcers never look like what people imagine. It's axiomatic and a source of amusement for most of us in this business. But to that is the added surprise people always show when I appear with a partially smoked Hoyo de Monterrey Excaliber No. 1 in hand.

I always allow my cigars to go out at a certain point, and then I just savor the taste and aroma such a good smoke has even when it's no longer lighted. One of the comments I often get is: "you know, smoking those things will shorten your life." My answer to these good and well-meaning folks is to cite the list of well-known personalities who smoke or have smoked cigars well into their 90s. Many, of course, are master musicians, the most notable being Arthur Rubinstein, who wrote lovingly in his autobiography about his acquisition of a taste for cigars as a young man.

I was visited for the summer by my college-age nephew. He arrived with a carton of mentholated, very thin cigarettes and a nervous promise that he would only smoke them on the front porch. I said that would be fine and that I always smoked a cigar there myself in the evening. He looked startled and said with polite chagrin that he really hated the smell of cigars. He was surprised when I replied that I was in sympathy with his feelings inasmuch as I detest the smell of cigarettes. We agreed to put up with each other's tastes and share the evening smoke together.

After a few evenings, he told me that he actually liked the smell of my Hoyos. I suggested it was perhaps the first time he'd encountered a fine cigar, that perhaps the cigars he'd been exposed to before were badly made. On impulse, I offered him one of mine, sharing with him the whole ritual of the experience we all know so well. That was the first of many evenings spent there, talking about cigars and cigar making, the result of which has left my nephew a confirmed admirer of the craft and art of cigars. He no longer smokes cigarettes. Instead, with his limited student's resources, he enjoys one excellent though modestly priced cigar per day. He's become a bit of a chauvinist though: he only smokes cigars from Honduras.

Steve Tortorici
Pensacola Florida

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Dear Marvin:

I am a 28-year-old traveler currently working as a waiter at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant. I was introduced to cigars a year after my return from a four-year odyssey across Europe and Africa. It was an old friend and my current manager, "George," who got me started. Needless to say, I am hooked.

I am curious about what smoking cigars means to different people. I started with George. He answered in his heavy Brooklyn accent, "you know, the finer things in life. When I smoke a cigar, I feel like I'm one of the elite. Fine hotels, good food, cars, the works."

I smiled. It has a similar meaning for me, but not the same. To me, smoking cigars is a mark of individuality. It is standing out from the crowd. It is being "an original." It is taking a stand and staying there. I could even go so far as to say it is the "rebel" quality of cigars that appeal to me. Freedom to go anywhere, do anything, at any time.

Images of cigar-smoking soldiers, cowboys, writers and yeah, even crooks come to mind as I smoke my H. Upmann Robustos while skateboarding home from work. We, the "fringe" element. I am in good company here.

For most of my peers, pleasure money is spent on beer and adult toys. I, however, would rather save the majority of my funds for traveling. I spend the rest on good cigars and decent bottles of red wine (not to mention subscriptions to a few good magazines).

I'll be leaving again in a year. I plan to spend three to four years traveling around Asia. The only difference with this trip will be the small stock of cigars I'll carry in my pack.

Alex Gary
Santa Monica, California

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Dear Marvin:

Because my wife has asked me to, I smoke my Hoyos outside. I do not mind, as it's rather pleasurable to watch the stars shine and the clouds pass as they go about their nightly mission of drifting across the north Florida sky. It also gives us quiet time together because she joins me.

The chance to smoke my Hoyos doesn't come along too often as I am in the Navy, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. When I'm out to sea, which is often, I don't have the time or place to smoke, so I just reread my CIGAR AFICIONADO magazines and think of when I'll be back in port with my family and able to light up my Hoyos once again.

I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida, the "Cigar Capital of the World," and therefore am well acquainted with cigars and the Cuban tradition of cigar making.

Amazingly enough, I have never been fortunate enough to have a "real" Cuban cigar because I was only 11 years old when the embargo went into effect. Now that I've learned so much about cigars from your magazine, when I go overseas next year, I'll be able to pick out a fine Havana and my dream of smoking one will come true.

My paternal grandfather had his own cigar making shop in Tampa, and I am fortunate enough to have some of the bands that he used on his cigars. I do not know, however, when he made them or for how long. My father and his siblings have passed away and I never asked them about my grandfather's cigar making days. I was young and uninterested. I am interested now, but my family's part in the history of the tobacco industry in Tampa is now lost to me. I hope to one day meet someone or read about my family's contribution and I will know a little more about how Poppa helped the tradition of fine cigar making to continue in the city of Tampa.

Thank you, Marvin, for your efforts in bringing cigar smoking back to respectability and the status it once had years ago. You have my full support and backing. Keep up the good work.

John W. Gulley Jr.
Jacksonville, Florida