Holy Smoke

Dear Cuz,

Thank you for the cigar.  It was obviously pricier than what I’m accustomed to.  I cannot spell the brand or pronounce it, but it started with the letter “P”.  My usual brand starts with ”B”.  Some notice is taken that there could be a quality factor that follows the progression of the alphabet.  The general assumption in society today is that price and quality go hand-in-hand.  This seems to be an important ingredient of our culture’s mythology…I will not attempt to dispute that except ask you to consider what it costs to get a congressman elected.

I got a cigar at a convenience store a few months back that started with “A”.  It was inexpensive, but that was the extent of its payback.  While there may have been some tobacco in it (though I didn’t notice any), the wrapper was suspiciously similar to the brown paper sacks we used to get at the grocery store.  I buy “B” brand in bundles to take advantage of the “cheaper by the dozen” factor.  I have smoked some “D” and even up to “H” brands with satisfaction apart from the corrosive effect they have on my budget.  So if quality trots along side the alphabet, I’d imagine those starting with an “S” or “T” would be quite delicious.  No doubt, the “Z” brands might cost as much as a fine pair of boots and most assuredly would provide Holy smoke; I have no experience with them.

It is the scientist in me that produces the next part, and also that you would expect it of me.  Since I’ve lived my life so as to gratify the expectations of select members of the human race, I will now do a breakdown of the features and corresponding benefits of the “B” brand and “P” brand cigars.  The laboratory of my mind is yet equipped for such research in spite of my years; perhaps to some degree because of them.  There is some argument as to whether this is due to genetics, or to my habits which would have killed me had I been a citizen of significance or worthiness.  They would have killed you, no doubt.

The gift cigar, being a “maduro”, had a dark leaf wrapper.  My “B” brand comes in both natural and maduro, so I selected one of my dark ones for comparison.  They are dark not due to fine selected tobaccos, but that they must have been soaked in a low grade of molasses that didn’t have any sugar in it.  They stain my hands and lips and leave me looking like I lost a fight with a shoe shine kit.  The “P” brand was better in that department staining little more than my throat and lungs.

The “P” brand was a good enough smoke and hardly required any ignition system beyond the tertiary match (give or take a dozen).  The “B” brand requires more due diligence and attention and sometimes a whole box of matches to keep one going.  I like the long kitchen matches which are reasonably available and cheap even though they are seldom used in kitchens any more.  These matches should remain affordable unless popularity of them increases and the government finds out about it. But as it stands now and taxes becoming what they can be, I may have to give up cigars altogether and just smoke the matches.

Once lit, the cigar you gave me burned evenly, or fairly so.  This is perhaps why it took fewer matches.  Now, I said: “evenly” but keep in mind that there are more expensive ones out there that burn in perfect symmetrical molecular rings with variances only detectable with an electron microscope.  It is unfortunate for me that they cost as much as dinner for two at a fine restaurant.  I had to give those up on account of my doctor.  He insists that I pay him, so I couldn’t do both.

My customary brand draws like a chimney with one side made of good fire brick and the other made of dry pine, but it requires little effort to draw.  The “P” brand drew a little harder at first which required some getting used to.  It is rolled tighter which is a sign of the better cigars.  When I first put the “P” brand in my mouth, I got hardly any more air flow than I’d get from sucking on the handle of a steak knife.  If you intend to suck a steak knife, the handle is the end to use.  The other end has hazards, to a point.

The “B” brand tends to burn down one side as if it had been carelessly laid on a wet table before starting.  This escalates the quantity of matches needed unless you intend to just wait and smoke the other side later.  I don’t do that any more than I would eat a sammich one slice of bread at a time.  It’s too messy.  The one you gave me was an improvement so I needed less attention to geometry, wind direction and gravity.  This freed me up so I could start this letter, which makes you a benefactor of society at large.

A worthy note of the “P” brand is that it didn’t unravel while smoking.  I kept waiting for that awkward moment when hot ashes would jump without warning into my shirt pocket, but it never came.  The benefit of this feature would have been to allow the agents who underwrite my home owners and life insurance policies to sleep easier, but I didn’t think to tell them at the time.

Your cigar had flavor and was spicy.  Perhaps not as much as some of the high dollar units that have been aged in pepper sauce, but spicy enough.  Cigar smokers habitually lick their cigar before lighting.  The “B” brand requires constant licking on the hot side so as to allow the other side to catch up.  The blisters and calluses that have resultantly formed on my tongue supply the speed bumps necessary to slow down the fire.

I tried to assess the efficiency of each brand as a mosquito repellent.  But they were too large for the mosquitoes to hold in their mouths comfortably, so no conclusion was drawn.  I then experimented with other animals:

The dawgs don’t care for cigars regardless of price.  They will stand next to me, but will not smoke.  They show respect for my addiction by trying to replicate likenesses of cigars all over the yard.  They think this pleases me because they watch proudly as I, shovel in hand; go out there to retrieve their art.  But it is foolish for them to be proud: I’ve never smoked a pretzel in my life!

While the dawgs showed little in the way of discerning taste between “P” and “B” brand cigars, I did.  You can send me a good cigar anytime you wish with no fear of offending the dawgs.

Well, after a time, a good letter comes to an end just as does a good cigar.  Sometimes both deserve to be placed in an ashtray, but not left burning: either could stink up the whole house.

After the fire is extinguished, I can abandon a cigar butt anywhere in the yard as they are about the only thing I’ve found that dawgs won’t eat.  Just yesterday I saw Sir Benson Zipper De Doo Dah catch and eat a bumble bee.  Zipper is a registered Boston terrier, so he has papers.  Ms. Lila Bea has a questionable heritage, so only has newspapers as she can gather from the neighbors’ lawns.  My son, Nathan, says that the only papers a dawg has of any real value are the papers that say they’ve been vaccinated against rabies.  Perhaps the same is true of Congress.  Gobblessamerka.

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