Cigar Aficionado

Reunions, Reputations and Life Reassessments

Three weeks ago I agreed to go to my high school reunion—scheduled for this Saturday—thinking that a month would leave me plenty of time to prepare. I would use those 30 days to do what I'd been putting off for decades: become a success.

It's a nice sentiment that people go to these things to catch up with old friends and relive the good old days, but let's face it, the sweetest thing that could happen at a reunion is to return triumphant—to go back to the scene of your not-so-glory years and be recognized as a screaming success by the people who ignored you when you had zits. In fact, a recent survey—conducted by me—proves that 95 percent of reunion-goers simply want to shove their good fortune in the face of the star of the football team, who is now a janitor. (The other five percent just want to hook up with the school's hot chick—the one they never had the courage to ask out.)

My problem vis a vis appearing successful is that I'm basically doing the same thing I was in high school: smoking and drinking. Yes, I have made a career of it, and I am smoking and drinking better stuff than I was back then, but some of my classmates are captains of industry now. And I smoke and drink for a living. It doesn't seem that impressive when you say it out loud. I might argue that I'm sort of a superhero, keeping the world safe from bad cigars and shoddy liquor with my very important palate, but my wife doesn't even buy that one.

No, what I realized three weeks ago was that what I needed was some great deed, gesture or achievement that would put my career in a better context. But then I found out they don't announce the Nobel Prize winners until October 3, two days late for my purposes. And besides, it turns out there is no prize in Spirits and Cigar Literature. I quickly gave up on that.

Another option would be to return rich. Money always impresses people. I could make a few savvy investmests, maybe get in early on an LBO for the next Facebook and go show up in a Ferrari sporting a big wallet. But, my rotten luck, the reunion has to happen during a raging recession. I tried looking up that fellow who's hedge fund was making people rich a few years ago, but it seems Mr. Madoff is out of business. No, a month wouldn't be enough time to secure a fortune.

But what if instead of being impressive, I just looked the part. My objective: Six-pack abs in 30 days, which sounded reasonable since I've read that very promise on the cover of dozens of men's bodybuilding magazines. And I actually did pursue a workout regimen. In fact, it was during my fifth stomach crunch that the cigar fell out of my mouth, knocked my whiskey glass onto the workout manual and the whole thing burst into flames. Now I'm beginning to doubt the plausibility of such a schedule for building rock hard abs. Thirty days? Who could keep it up that long. One minute was decidedly unpleasant, a month would have killed me.

I decided to get a haircut instead. And it was in the barber's that I read an article about how you can buy titles from destitute peerage in Europe. That sounded fancy, maybe something like the Count or the Chevalier. But they're expensive. Then I remembered I already have a title. And I'd even earned it. For services to the cause of spreading the good reputation of Bourbon, I was once named a Kentucky Colonel, a fact that is duly noted on my résumé under Honors and Club Memberships. But the privileges and responsibilities thereunto appertaining do not include a Kentucky Colonel uniform, not even a sash with some badges. I'd have to explain the whole thing, which seems unseemly.  And besides, some of my classmates actually served in the military and might take umbrage at calling me sir.

I'd almost despaired of impressing my old classmates, when I started to think, "How shallow of me to believe that people would care about great achievements, important titles or transparent shows of wealth." That's not how you win people's respect and affection. Human beings respond to something more genuine than that.

I'll bribe them.

I wonder if they'll be impressed with Cognac and cigars.

"If one of my old high school friends showed up at our reunion telling tales of how he smokes great cigars and drinks aged scotch for a living, not only would I be thoroughly impressed but i'd spend the rest of the evening trying to get him to tell me how he stumbled onto such a sweet deal" —October 5, 2011 07:56 AM
"You do something you love and are passionate about thats something most people never get the chance to do no matter what there profession is. You spread passion and love about cigars and spirits and i say cheers to you Mr. Bettridge" —October 2, 2011 15:37 PM
"A cigar and a nice single malt is always gentlemanly. The rest follows... " —September 26, 2011 19:43 PM
"I would be impressed with a Behike or Siglo VI. When and were is the reunion? Count me in! lol" —September 26, 2011 14:52 PM