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Maybe it's like becoming one with the cigar. You lose yourself in it; everything fades away: your worries, your problems, your thoughts. They fade into the smoke, and the cigar and you are at peace.

~Raul Julia


Excerpts From:  A Cigar Smoker’s Summer Hell Diary

Mick Parsons, Cigar Editor, The Smoking Poet


1.  Late May/ Early June


            Only two worries on my mind these days.

            One is, of course, trying to prepare myself for the humidity. After four summers in exile, living at the edge of the world outpost called Phoenix, Arizona, I am unaccustomed to it. I have clear memories of humidity, and of living with it reasonably well.  But I was a little younger and more pliable and I did a lot more drugs back then.  The year I lived in New Orleans is especially poignant in my memory. Each summer day I felt like a lobster in a pot, steaming to death in my own sweat and mess; and then, everyday at exactly 5 p.m., it would rain. You could set your watch by the rain. Of course, it was so fucking hot that any evidence of the rain evaporated within 10 minutes. 

            Living down there I began to get a sense of how men traveled before maps and compasses and Google Maps and MapQuest and those god damned GPS screens that have changed America from a land of pioneers and seekers into a country full of tourists. Anymore, it seems as if people have lost the basic idea that it’s good to get lost and have to think your way back out to the main road; that sort of thing builds character.  It builds endurance and mental stamina. Instead of being Daniel Boone and Lewis and Clark, we’re a culture of Clark Griswolds – and while that sort of delirium makes for a funny movie, it does not make for an intelligent and informed constituency.

            I’m trying to remember how I learned to cope with the humidity down there. Some strategies work for all climate extremes. Leap frogging from comfortable space to comfortable space, whether that space is air-conditioned or heated, always works. It requires timing, planning, and common sense. The kind of common sense like knowing whether to take a bottle of water or an umbrella or a winter coat when you walk out the door. Don’t take for granted, though, that most people have this rudimentary level of common sense. This survivalist instinct is all but gone; that ability to adapt – which is what gave early homo sapiens an evolutionary advantage – has disappeared. We have become so accustomed to shaping our environment around us that we have propelled ourselves even closer to our evolutionary event horizon. From here on out, it just gets ugly. Ugly like spray tans.

            Not that I’m any better than anyone else. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs plays no role in my life. Basic needs like food, clothes, and shelter take a back seat to the more important creature comforts… those things I require to feel human and to keep myself from falling irrevocably into an insane homicidal stupor. (These two states of being, while related, ARE mutually exclusive.)

             Which brings me to my other worry. There are no Decent Cigars to be had here in corn and god country.

             Even when I was engaged in the academic indentured servitude of being a college English Instructor, I could still find Decent Cigars. I could drive to Ford & Haig in Old Town Scottsdale (AZ), buy some nice minis, and peruse the respectable humidor. Sometimes I’d buy a nice Rocky Patel, or maybe even an Arturo Fuentes. One summer, out of sheer loneliness and desperation because my wife was working out of town – because I am, in spite of my squirreliness and undomesticated ways, a complete wreck without her – I bought a Churchill-sized Cohiba. That stick was the pinnacle. That cigar taught me the difference between a cheap stogie, a Decent Smoke, and a truly Great Cigar. the wrap was tight, the burn was slow, and the ash was thick, fine, and grey like a polished semi-precious stone.

             Great smokes, like great literature and great music, call for comparison. And that means smoking the good, the bad, and the ugly; and it seems that I have no choice. Either smoke whatever I can find, or quit.

             Fuck all that. Nothing good ever comes from quitting. Not to mention that there’s some fundamentally Un-American about it. Quitting. Quitting is for Commies, Baptists, and Retirees.

            The absence of Decent Smokes is exacerbated by the fact that I’m broke. If it wasn’t for this financial handicap, I could take the 3-hour sojourn into Chicago, where I am sure that there are any number of tobacconists and humidors. But I can’t afford either the gas or the cost of a decent stick. Summers always find me short of money, whether I’m working or not. The only difference is that people around me tend to respect my poverty more when I’m working for it rather than waiting for it to wash over me like a lukewarm wave of spit.


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The Cigar Maker, by Mark Carlos McGinty


Book Review by Mick Parsons


·         Paperback: 464 pages

·         Publisher: Seventh Avenue Productions (June 1, 2010)

·         Price: $19.95

·         ISBN-10: 0615343406

·         ISBN-13: 978-0615343402



The Cigar Maker is the story of the Ortiz family as it struggles to survive the personal and political climate of Ybor City (the Cuban section of Tampa) at the turn of the 20th Century. The patriarch, Salvador, is trying to support his family and escape his past as a Cuban rebel; but his past and the politics of his present conspire against him. He raises his children with one simple edict: “Work hard or die like dogs!” It all seems to work until the 1899 Weight Strike. Then we begin to see the dark forces working to control not only the cigar trade in Tampa (and hence, the entire country) but to control the underbelly of the city as well. Armando Renteria begins consolidating his power early by taking control of Tampa’s underworld, but eventually sees that the only way to ensure his long-term survival and profiteering is to take over Vasquez and Company, a prominent cigar manufacturing company, and eventually run for mayor of Tampa. He sets out to silence the radical elements of the worker’s union (La Resistencia) that nearly destroyed Vasquez and Company during the Weight Strike and has the leaders—Salvador Ortiz, the unintentional union leader; Gabriel Mendez, lector and radical newspaper publisher; Juan Carlos, the violent ex-Cuban rebel; and official union leader Lapir—deported to the Honduras and left to die.


The Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt visiting an Ybor (Cigar) City brothel and a story about a headless rooster, provide a colorful backdrop for what is essentially a family story.  The Ortiz family epic is also a quintessentially American story—one about poverty, struggle, and success—and while the novel demonstrates what happens when too much power falls into the hands of too few people, it also highlights the peril of there not being anyone in control— not the city government, not the union, and most certainly not the cigar factory owners. The tension between the worker and the factory owner gets played out over and over again in the news, even today. The arguments over which is more important—a living wage and safe and dignified working conditions versus corporate profits at the expense of both worker and consumer—are also alive and well in our country’s political dialogue today.


If there is a place in the writing where the desire to write quality historical fiction and the impulse to be historically accurate run into one another with questionable result, it’s in the final chapter. While it seems like it might make for an interesting epilogue to know what happens to all the primary characters, the final wind down reads less like fiction and more like a series of obituaries; for this reader, it read as if the writer didn’t know how to let them go when the frame of the story ended.  But characters such as these would be difficult to release, in the same way that people never really let go of their roots in spite of time, distance, and the muddling of history that happens from telling to retelling to rehashing.


McGinty’s writing is deliberate, informed, and interesting, and he pays homage not only to the family history that inspired the writing, but to the larger American tale of which The Cigar Maker is part. He weaves together a tale that makes for intensely interesting reading; a mixture of The Godfather, The Buena Vista Social Club, Scarface, and The Waltons, there are story lines here for a wide variety of readers. Mixing history, fiction, and the crucial work that myths and old family tales does on our private and communal lives, The Cigar Maker earns a 99.


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To learn more about Mark McGinty or to purchase his book, visit The Cigar Maker.

TSP Cigar Editor, Mick Parsons

Mark Carlos McGinty

American History Y(bor): Mick Parsons, TSP Cigar Editor, Talks to Mark Carlos McGinty, author of The Cigar Maker


It would have been nice to sit down with Mark, smoke a nice cigar, drink a nice single malt scotch, and talk the way writers are supposed to sit around and talk. After reading The Cigar Maker, I certainly wanted to sit down and talk to him about the book … and for a couple different reasons. Besides the enjoyable read – which is increasingly rare for me these days – the student of Zinn in my head was intrigued by McGinty’s focus on a little known, little understood, and little appreciated part of American history. As a cigar aficionado, the novel was topically relevant.


The other thing about the book, though, that attracted my attention was the manner in which it was published. In spite of having published a successful novel, Mark McGinty decided to go out on his own and publish this epic himself – an undertaking that embodies the revolutionary spirit of his characters and the independent nature of the true artist.


And, of course, I was excited to find out that Mark also went to school in Cincinnati (at Xavier, a university where I was once an adjunct), my old stomping ground. After a few years out in the desert, it would have been nice to talk to somebody who has compelling opinions on the difference between Skyline and Gold Star Chili, the sale of the Reds to the Castellini Brothers, the “gentrification” of Over the Rhine, and the debacle over Paul Brown Stadium.


Like I said, it would have been NICE to sit and chat with Mark; but I’m in Midwestern corn and god country, and he’s in Minnesota, and we both have deadlines to meet. But receiving his answers via email, while I’m smoking the first decent cigar I’ve been able to afford all summer (it’s August), and drinking my morning coffee was nearly as enjoyable.


Mick Parsons: To begin, talk some about the gestation of The Cigar Maker.  Was this a story that you had wanted to tell for a long time?


Mark Carlos McGinty: The story had been in the back of my mind for awhile and I really got serious about it when I sat down to have dinner with the editor of my first novel, Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy. We were celebrating the release of that book when I told him about the idea for The Cigar Maker, which centered around the kidnapping and deportation of 12 cigar industry labor leaders, an event that had actually happened in 1901 but was rarely covered in the many books I had on Tampa history and the history of the cigar industry. He told me to tell the complete story, to make it a 600-page epic with maps and photographs and to make it the book on the subject. I knew it would be a long story, but I didn’t hold back because it is a story that has never been told.


Mick: You clearly spent a significant amount of time researching the history of Tampa and Ybor City, and you are careful to clarify things in the back of the book, after the story.  Was this history easy to dig up? Were you able to get any family accounts, other than your own, to help develop the story?


Mark Carlos McGinty: Most of the history was fairly easy to find. Mormino and Pozzetta’s The Immigrant World of Ybor City is perhaps one of the best non-fiction books on Ybor City during the height of the cigar industry. I did find a few old newspaper articles that had a lot of good information, including an account of the 1901 deportation and the deportees’ grueling journey back to Tampa. Most of the anecdotes, the day to day events of the story, came from family legends and interactions I’ve had with my relatives from Tampa. Ybor City also has a great museum dedicated to this time period, with a block of actual cigar workers’ houses restored, furnished and decorated to appear as they would have in the early 1900’s. The best part of taking the museum tour is that often there will be locals in the tour group whose grandparents lived during that time. They will share their stories and memories of day to day life in Ybor City. 


Mick: Was the content of the worker’s newsletters and Tampa newspaper articles based on actual articles you were able to find?


Mark Carlos McGinty: Yes. The Anglo newspaper articles in the book were based on actual editorials. Some of the dialogue in the book came from old newspaper articles too. The articles by Mendez, a radical pro-worker writer, were based on the rhetoric and ideology of the radical culture that grew from Cuba Libre and the desire for revolution against Spain.


Mick: While it’s clearly a riveting cultural and political story, you are careful to point out that this is a family story. Why is this such an important distinction?


Mark Carlos McGinty: In my mind it was a family story because so much of The Cigar Maker is based on what I had learned from my family. Even though cultures and political views differ, people can relate to family no matter where they are in the world. People of every culture want to protect and care for their families and to make things better for the next generation. That makes it a human story and not just a Cuban story or a revolutionary story.


Mick: Salvador Ortiz, the patriarch, goes through an interesting development: from rebel outlaw to respectable citizen, back to rebel outlaw, and finally, a man who is at relative peace with his past, his present, and his future – as well as the future of his family.  In every situation, he seems to simply want to do the right thing, regardless of how it actually works out, and he’s also the character that keeps the narrative tied together.  Also, my reaction as a reader to Juan Carlos was mixed – not because he’s not interesting, but because I wasn’t sure whether I should root for him or not. At times he seems on the outside and other times he is almost an ethical (though not necessarily moral) center.  He is really only in his prime during violent times – a product and progenitor of violence. How important is it to balance a work of fiction on an ethical or moral fulcrum? Is this simply about dynamic versus static characters or something deeper you want to accomplish when you’re writing a complex narrative?


Mark Carlos McGinty: Sometime the most interesting characters are those we are not sure about. Boromir from Lord of the Rings immediately comes to mind, an ambivalent character who the reader cannot trust yet can completely understand. Juan Carlos feels that he is acting for the good of his people yet his actions are ultimately damaging because they perpetuate a cycle of violence. Juan Carlos is always certain that he is doing the right thing. He has no internal conflict, which adds a certain irony to the story since the reader can see where he has crossed the line. His volatile nature makes his a very good foil for Salvador. He is very unpredictable in contrast to Salvador’s stability. Because of these things, Juan Carlos was the most enjoyable character to write.


Mick: One of the things about the narrative that resonated for me was the relationships between Salvador and his children; the dynamic is one that seems to be consistent, regardless of culture or heritage.  There’s something fundamentally American about the story – this cycle of poverty, failure, and success through hard work. The other thing about this story that feels fundamentally American is the struggle between average people and those who consolidate power at all costs; these themes crop up everywhere … in literature, movies, TV shows.  What is it about these themes that still make them relevant in 21st Century America?


Mark Carlos McGinty: It’s the classic tale of the Haves vs. the Have-Nots and that story is still being told all across the world today and will probably continue to be told for generations not just in literature or movies but in everyday life. This is not simply good guys vs. bad guys. The Haves and the Have-Nots are motivated by similar problems. Fear of not having enough, fear of not being able to provide, or survive. For the most part, both sides ultimately want the same thing: a better life for themselves and their families.


Mick: The real bad guy here is Armando Renteria. How did you come up with his character? What kinds of influences went into creating him? And what about those influences resonate with you as a writer as well as a reader/viewer (in the case of movies, if that’s the case)?


Mark Carlos McGinty: In the movie “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy, the antagonist is a guy named Darryl, the arrogant heir to the empire of Soul Glo. I hated this character every minute he was on screen. He didn’t need to say a word, his mere appearance drove me crazy. I wanted the reader to experience this same feeling with Armando. I began to wonder what made me hate Darryl so much. He is not a villain in the traditional sense but he fills the role perfectly because he is the exact opposite of Eddie Murphy’s character. He wants exactly what Murphy wants but for all the wrong reasons and he goes about it in all the wrong ways, which makes you hate him since you like Murphy’s character so much (unless you hate Murphy’s character – but that’s impossible since his character is so likable!). I tried to do the same thing with Armando and Salvador.


Some other memorable villains that I thought of were Amon Goth from Schindler’s List, Darth Vader, and Claudius from Hamlet. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a scene with Armando in The Cigar Maker that was inspired by the prayer scene in Hamlet. Ask me about it after you’ve read the book!


Mick: The Cigar Maker is a very different kind of book from Elvis and the Blue Moon Conspiracy; but at the heart of both of them seems to be this idea that the stories and myths we hear as children remain important throughout our lives. Why do these kinds of stories – fake moon landings, Elvis, El Matón, headless roosters – resonate throughout our private and communal lives? What do they say about us?


Mark Carlos McGinty: That’s a great question and there are probably dozens of valid ways to answer it. One way of looking at stories like the ones you mentioned is that they are things that seem barely possible. They stretch the limits of imagination. Perhaps these mythical stories feed some innate desire to see and do things no one else has done. Experiencing them vicariously gives people a way to take ownership of them.


Mick: I’d like to hear some about why you decided to go out on a limb and put this book out yourself – under the banner of 7th Avenue Productions.  Is this kind of approach – a kind of DIY approach – crucial to the survival of literature, given the limitations of trying to get published by either large publishing houses that are focused on marketability rather than quality or by smaller publishing concerns that lack the resources to allow writers to simply write?  What all was involved in getting this book out, besides the research and writing – which was, in and of itself, such a big task?


Mark Carlos McGinty: I spent a lot of time with this decision and consulted several people, including both authors who have been independently published and traditionally published. There were enough advantages and disadvantages with each approach to make this decision one that needed careful consideration. In the end it came down to one question: how do I want to spend my time? I started by sending query letters to agents, which is a very time-consuming task. You have to spend time writing an excellent query letter, spend time researching the agent marketplace to determine which agents to target and then there’s the act of physically sending the queries. Whenever an agent requested to read the manuscript, everything stopped. I had to sit back and wait – in one case I waited for 4 months to hear back from an agent. During those four months you can’t really move forward. You’re stuck. It’s frustrating. After a few go rounds in that world I decided that I did not want to spend my time writing queries, I wanted to spend time producing the book, setting up the publishing house and marketing the final product. I find that process, the process of creating a book much more rewarding than the great agent chase, a process of trying to stand out from a crowd of thousands by convincing one person that you have a marketable product.   


The average reader has demonstrated time and again that he is not concerned with the publishing house that releases a book, he is interested in a great story. The same thing happens in movies and television – we have proof of that in the rise of indie film. Do people really care that a movie was released by MGM vs. Paramount? It doesn’t really matter as long as it tells a well-executed, interesting story. And in the age of reality TV, we’ve learned that the general public takes a great interest in the average person. The general public understands that it is a large, competitive world, and they don’t like their entertainment spoon fed. They know what they like and sometimes the average person has a book, or a movie, or a singing voice that it outside the mainstream and is actually more appealing than “the garbage everyone else is putting out.”


Whether this is crucial to the survival of literature remains to be seen but the time is ripe for the independent artist!


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Diamond Crown Robusto #3

Cigar Review by George Davis


My enjoyment is a Diamond Crown Robusto #3 Maduro cigar. I smoke the stick exclusively because I do not wish to betray the band and my pleasure. After sampling and experimenting with other sticks, I stayed hooked on the D C cigar. I use two wood matchsticks squeezed together to light up the foot. To me, this is a romantic thing to do, letting the flame and foot meet, then rotate the foot to make sure the burn develops evenly, knowing this will get a lengthy ash. Then I put the stick into my mouth, to draw the smoke to my palate to savor the sensation (to me) of earthy cocoa. Since I do not indulge in alcohol beverages, ginger ale soda over lemons (no ice) or he-man coffee (no cream no sugar) enhances my pleasure.


George Arthur Davis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but presently resides in Tampa, Florida. He is a retired federal government employee engaged in a lifelong desire to write short stories for a living.

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Unholy Cocktails

Garrett Ashley


John Reese told me he wanted me to smoke. The summer I turned nineteen he took me to the Habana Smoke Shoppe in Jackson to pick out my birthday present. I'd seen him outside the dorms smoking what he'd called a Sandwich Churchill. Some kind of torpedo that really got my senses tingling. Reminded me of the cheap cigars Dad used to smoke.

            "I can smell a cigarette a mile away," said Dad. That was a long time ago. He was right when he told me he'd beat my ass if I ever smoked. He used to do it all the time, so he'd swear, "I can smell it right on your breath."

            But I wanted his cigars. Those bad ass .50 calibers he kept in a black humidor. Never touched them himself. Dark, dark cigars. Probably better for signaling airdrops than for smoking. He kept a count on them so I couldn't fool him.

            First Reese asked me if I'd be okay with something simple. Something we wouldn't have to drive thirty miles out of our way to get. He let me try a Black and Mild. Shit, reminded me of the state fair, so I passed. Those rides used to make me vomit and that'd always embarrass Dad.

            So Reese took me to Habana. Most intense place I'd ever been. It's still there, right in the middle of Jackson—the cigar shop owned by some of the most intimidating guys I'd ever seen. They had a delivery car and everything. Reese led me to the best of the best—shit I couldn't afford, but I have to say my teeth went numb just thinking about it. Little rockets in humidors waiting to be shot off. Reese suggested a dark little rocket from a black box. He called it an Unholy Cocktail. It looked like the stuff my dad kept locked away.

            Seeing that reminded me of my first pack of cigarettes. Doral menthol lights. I was sixteen. Dad found them in the glove compartment of the car. It had taken me a week to get them but I said they belonged to someone else. I don't really know what he did with them, but I knew he took them. That's how I learned not to smoke. I didn't give half a shit about all the negative things a cigarette could do to your lungs, I just didn't want to get my ass beat. That's how I grew up. But when I got to college I'd smoke a pack a week. Not so bad, but enough to make up for the smoking I could've done back in high school. It felt good being old enough to do the things I wanted. To be a way from my dad and all the little things he ever got ill about.

            Now that I was gone he wasn't really like that. When I'd talk to him on the phone, he'd be nice as hell, like we were some sort of new-age family. But I knew he loved me, I guess that's all it really boiled down to.

            I pulled the stub of hair hanging off my pointed chin and thought about the Unholy Cocktails. Then I bought five for a little under forty bucks. Reese said they'd be worth the price. Best cigars you could smoke. Everyone has their own opinion, I guess. In my opinion, they smelled like they were worth it. I kept them in the glove compartment until I knew it'd be safe to take them into the house. Maybe when the parents were asleep. I still had a few days left at home and didn't want them to spoil.

            Later that night, Dad hugged me tighter than he ever had before. "Happy birthday," he said. I had the same white cake I'd loved for nineteen years. Everyone said goodnight and left me and Dad alone to talk. Just bullshitted our way into midnight in front of a blank television. I'd never been a touchy one. Not much for bonding. But I guess that's what you call what we did.

            He fell asleep on the couch and I crept back to my room and went to bed. I'd never been so happy to be home. I didn't know who my family was anymore. It was like being away for so long changed them. I felt like a real son. Someone they missed and needed and relied on.

            The next day, Dad's truck was gone. Mom told me he was upset about some shit. Then I go out to the car and find five smashed Unholy Cocktails next to the passenger side door. Twenty or so imprints about the size of a real man's shoe all over the place. I really hated that my newfound manhood was stomped to death by my dad. I'll probably miss having my ass beat the day he's gone for good.


Garrett Ashley studies English at The University of Mississippi. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in a dozen magazines including Brain Harvest, Bloody Bridge Review, M-Brane SF, The New Flesh, and Short, Fast, and Deadly. He is also the founder of Widowmoon Press, a new speculative fiction e-zine. His interests are chasing cars and barking at squirrels. When he's not drooling at the mouth, he is working on a novel.


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Grandpa’s Toscano


Olivia Arieti



My grandpa was old, so old that he could still talk about his experience in WWI in Italy. He was a tough guy and his fighting with the allies on the Italian border made him even tougher. He felt like Hemingway, his favourite author, who had been out there too, driving ambulances. Too bad they didn’t meet. As a matter of fact, he shared lots of things with that great man—deep sea fishing, heavy drinking and cigar smoking.


The difference was that Grandpa smoked Toscano, a thick stinking cigar that would fill up the room with a harsh dry smell. He picked up the habit during his stay overseas. An old Italian friend used to send him a box or two for Christmas. They were pretty expensive here and not so easy to find. To intensify the pleasure of the taste and keep the burn-rate slow, Grandpa smoked his Toscano whole, “intero” and not “ammezzato,” (cut in two), as he once explained, proud of his use of the foreign words.


I usually spent my Saturday afternoons with him while mom went downtown shopping. In winter we would sit by the fireplace, and he started telling me about his old times, stories I ended up knowing by all by heart. He was still brilliant and memories ran faster than trains. He said it was his Toscano that kept him healthy.


In summer we used to sit on the porch. Outdoors was better. He would take his scotch, light his cigar and drop into his big rocking chair. Then, he would start recalling, as usual, the war, Italy, its sunny shores and Margherita, a girl he met and wanted to marry. Unfortunately, she died of typhoid fever. Grandpa always stopped talking at this point and watched the uneven curls of smoke unwind in the hot air. By then his cigar had become dark and wrinkled, almost one with his own crooked fingers. The scent was really strong. More than once I noticed his eyes turn red. Perhaps, he was going deep through his youth, and the pain of his lost love was still there. Doubtless, he was following the foam of a dream that was waning more and more.


My unripe age and the disturbing smell made me insensitive and annoyed. My only thought was when my mom would come back and take me home.


Olivia Arieti, a U.S. citizen and high school English teacher, lives in Italy with her family. Her plays were published by Brooklyn Publishers, Desert Road Publishing, Lazy Bee Scripts. Her poems appeared in Women In Judaism, The Wanderlust Review, Poetica Magazine,  Eye On Life, VWA: Poems For Haiti.

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White Grape Is Sweet, But It’s Not Vanilla

Cigar Review by Allen Taylor


“You've got no game.”

That's what my wife said. The store was out of my favorite cigar, Game Vanilla. It comes in a blue blox with four to a pack.

I like cigars that last like a good kiss. Game Vanilla is perfect. It touches the lips softly with a texture that feels like lipstick you know is there but doesn't draw attention to itself. It's sweet like the sugar of a cool glass of ice tea. And smooth like the baby soft touch of a lover's skin. And it lingers like a good memory. That's my kind of smoke.

But the store was out of them.

I asked for a Game White Grape. It comes in a green package. I bought a single.

Unwrapping the cigar, I put it to my nose, sniffed. Sweet. But not like Vanilla. I shrugged and put it to my lips, lit the end and took a draw. Immediately, my wife gave her report. “It smells like Bubble Yum.”

She would know. She raised three kids to adulthood. The last time I smelled Bubble Yum, I was the child chewing it. But I agreed. It did smell a little bit like Bubble Yum.

One of the ways I judge a cigar is by the reaction of nonsmokers around me. Most people don't object to a cigar with a pleasant aroma. Sure, now and then you'll meet someone who doesn't like any cigar smell. But most nonsmokers won't object to a pleasant aroma. My wife clearly didn't consider Bubble Yum very pleasant.

I smoked the whole cigar. It wasn't great. It wasn't bad. But I'll never smoke another one.


Allen Taylor is a poet living in rural South Central Pennsylvania. He is the author of Rumsfeld’s Sandbox.

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