Cigar Aficionado

Out of the Humidor

Dear Marvin,
Today I purchased my first copy of Cigar Aficionado-because Emeril Lagasse was on the cover-even though I've been enjoying cigars for nearly two years. I just happened to glance down at the cover while waiting for a photo submission for your "Moments to Remember" page to upload when I read "The Good Life Magazine for Men" and took some offense. Why is it just for men? Aren't women the fastest growing segment of cigar smokers? I'm sure it has been your slogan for years, but it seems a bit outdated to me. Those who are connoisseurs of the finer things-like cigars, wine, food, golf and travel-aren't divided by gender or even race or social class. I'd love to see that slogan updated for the twenty-first century with something a bit less discriminating.

Dianna Stampfler
Plainwell, Michigan

Dear Marvin,
I am a big fan of your magazine. I live in Manitoba, Canada, and work for Cornerstone Youth for Christ. I am the director of a youth drop-in center where we work with young people ages 12—20, helping them to live right and make positive life choices. We encourage them to stay in school, stay off drugs, that crime isn't the way, and that there are many people that care about them. It is the best job I've ever had, and can't imagine being anywhere else. I write you to share what cigars mean to me. I am 33 years old and weigh 562 pounds. I blame no one for my weight but myself and I take full responsibility. I have been overweight my whole life and have decided in the last six months to really put an effort forth and lose some weight, roughly 300 pounds. I know this is a massive task and undertaking, but one I must do to have better health and to do my job even better. I look at these young people who come to the center as my own children, partly because my wife and I are unable to have any of our own, and partly because they have little parental influence from their own homes. I want to be an example to them, that they have the ability to change their situations in life, no matter how daunting they may be. It just takes work. I want to show them that I can go from 562 pounds to 250 pounds with hard work and determination.

That being said, this is where cigars come in. I have always been a social kind of guy who liked to hang out with people and have great conversation. To find these opportunities were difficult-that is, until the cigar entered my life about two years ago. Cigars have given me the opportunity to meet many great people, who have equally great stories and opinions. I have learned a number of new things, both in the areas of cigars and life. As for my struggle to lose weight, they have been a huge blessing as well, especially with my many food cravings. I find that late at night when I want that greasy, salty snack, I can get quite tense from the pressure of temptation. I often decide to have a small cigar at these times, which calms my craving and allows me to think elsewhere, often being enveloped by the good cigar I'm enjoying. There is a lot to be said for relieving stress and causing distraction in our busy day-to-day lives, especially when dieting. Since starting my journey to lose weight, roughly six weeks ago, I've lost 40 pounds, progress I'm very pleased with. As long as I can afford them, I will continue to smoke Toraño Silver Edition Robustos and C.A.O. MX2 Robustos, my favorites. Once I lose this weight, and if I can save enough, it is my dream to treat my wife to a honeymoon cruise, something we have never been able to do because of my weight problem. That will be a glorious day. Here's to the cigar...cheers!

Ben MacMichael
Niverville, Manitoba, Canada

Dear Marvin,
It has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina devastated my community. I never dreamed I would see the day that my beloved city of New Orleans would lay in ruins struggling to survive. I was overcome with emotion when I received my recent issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine and learned of your efforts to help the people affected by this tragic nightmare. I always knew that cigar smokers were some of the kindest and most generous people on the planet, and this act of generosity only confirms my beliefs. There are hundreds of people who will benefit from your generosity, people who will never know the source of this precious help and will never have the opportunity to say thanks. On their behalf, I thank you and everyone who has donated to this Katrina effort. I just realized that my September/October issue of CA drowned along with the tons of mail that fell victim to Katrina's floodwaters. Ironically, I see now that Emeril Lagasse graced the cover of that issue lost in New Orleans.

Kevin Barré
New Orleans, Louisiana

Dear Marvin,
Love your magazine; have every issue. I was just pondering the scope of articles you have run over the years and was wondering if you ever considered running "Silly Cigar Stories" as a humorous feature. If so, I have a lulu. At the height of the cigar fad, I was enjoying a smoke in the now gone Armstrong's Saloon. (It was the late Jimmy Armstrong who first told me about Cigar Aficionado magazine.) In came four young guys, maybe mid-20s. They each ordered a single-malt Scotch, then took out their cigars. And fine cigars they were, too. The bartender slid several large ashtrays their way and then it happened. Each of the smokers removed the cigar band and then peeled away the wrapper leaf! They tossed the wrappers into the ashtrays, then smoked just the filler and binder. I had to ask them why they did that. "Well, it's the wrapper, right?" one of them said to me. "So, you think you have to 'unwrap' the cigar before smoking it?" I said. "We don't?" another asked. I explained the purpose of the wrapper to them and even went so far as to ignite a piece of wrapper in the ashtray for them to smell. They got the point. Apparently they had been smoking for a couple of years and had always done it that way.

Eliot Camaren
New York, New York