When I first entered college, I tried smoking, but as Bill Clinton said, I didn't inhale.  I temporarily abandoned a leadership roll, and became a follower.  It seemed (though probably not) the majority of the Freshman class at Rutgers was smoking.  What was I missing?  Would this calm the Freshman jitters?  They, the University, after all, were trying to flunk a third of us.  Would smoking right my keel, and lead me to a safe (passing) harbor?

Not. This smoking faze of my life was short lived.  I didn't like the taste, I almost burned my finger, it was expensive, and what finally  ended my flirt with tobacco was kissing a girl who smoked...Yuck!

I have dear friends who smoke, and I don't love them any less, although I remind them of the perils often.  It's just not my cup of tea, which I did take a liking to (green).

I found out in later years there might have been a gene component to this experiment.  My father admitted when he was about the same age, he tried smoking and drinking while stationed abroad during World War II.  He too ditched the tobacco, however, he kept the Scotch, even to this day.

Genna, my eventual wife, didn't smoke while courting, but after we were married, we had some "out there" friends who started smoking these little (I forget their name) short cigars.  After all, she was an independent, married woman...she'd come a long way, baby!  I went along with this with the understanding she had to full throat gargle before she got a kiss from me.

I think she was just doing this disgusting (in hindsight) habit ( though it wasn't yet) for show.  As we all know, youth has a craziness to it, or it isn't youth.  A couple of months past, and I could see this fad was fading fast.  However, Genna had a different way of stopping than I did.

We were out to dinner with her parents, when Genna lights one of these shorties (remember in those day you could still smoke in most restaurants).  I glanced over to her mother, who could communicate to her daughter through her eyes, and her peepers were saying "No."

Her father, who had a very expressive face, clearly was not amused.  When his optical daggers missed his daughter's sensibilities, he reached across the table while she was in the midst of her third puff, grabbed the cigarillo (THAT'S what they were called, I just remembered), and stuffed it in her water glass.  He then started talking about the weather, or what ever, like nothing just happened.

We all joined in talking about a range of subjects, but not smoking.


  1. That's one way to stop your child from smoking! It's funny, I'm reading this while planning a trip to the cigar store to pick one up later today. I use cigars as a reward for special jobs well done. It's all about moderation.

  2. Whatever keeps you happy, pal! Congrats, and enjoy the puffs.

  3. Chief Chokem,

    I agree; even though those antique cigar store Indians are unique remnants of Americana and the boxes of white owl, etc. are kind of neat to collect and put old buttons in, smoking the former contents in excess could be hazardous to your vocals.

    General U.S. Grant was known to have a cigar continually protruding from his saddened kisser. This was such a well-known fact that his admirers felt it would honor him to send him boxes and boxes of puffers to show their affection. They practically loved him to death with their parcels. He died of throat cancer in Saratoga, NY, about a week or two after finishing writing his memoirs. He had to sleep upright in chairs while doctors administered morphine to help with the extreme pain. The set of two books was sold for a half a million and rescued his family from the bankruptcy brought on by the shifty dealings of those confidantes that Grant had trusted while in the presidential office.

    Like you, I didn’t have much success puffing on cigars either. When but a lad, I figured I’d take a giant leap towards manhood while my parents were out at one of their many political functions on a late Saturday night. I decided I’d take a few puffs while watching a million dollar movie. It was a really macho experience… until the living room started spinning, and there were more than a million movies on the zenith, reverberating unto my tummy! I was there after completely cured of my Cuban curiosity!

    I do think your father-in-law made the correct correction by “watering down” the status stigma of the lovely “Havana Hannah”, especially since it was under his roof that the beginnings of her character traits were formed. It would have been a merciful liquid solution if my Pop could have dunked my boyhood enthusiasm!

    When I first began courting my bride, she also smoked, but they were just plain white tobaccos. I gently mentioned to her that I was subject to people in the family smoking all around me and as a child had the croup and bronchitis and was enclosed in a tent with a vaporizer. I added that it would very difficult for me to marry a gal who so indulged and declared that “Every breath you breathe is the very breath of God”! She quit within a week or so, switching over to Green Tea like thee…. and the fairytale of the Sweet Prince and “Cigarette-ella” continues happily ever after! Not sure if it all chalks up to the fear of God or the reluctance to pitch a tent every night for the rest of her life if she married me…..;-)


    P.S. Aunt Mitzi and your Nana sent many a smoke signal out of her window above the River road when we visited.