Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bucket list check-off

I have this bucket list — things I hope to accomplish before I die — that apparently I have been working on all my life.

I've been to the Grand Canyon and hiked down to the Colorado River. I've seen spectacular Northern Lights in Wisconsin. I've seen whales, moose and bald eagles in Alaska. I've been to nearly all the major Civil War battlefields. I shook hands with baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt after getting his autograph. I once interviewed Arnold Palmer. I watched a baseball game from the outfield seats in Boston's Fenway Park.

There are some things I have yet to do: I'd like to see Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the the D-Day beaches at Normandy. I want to trace my family's lineage to the Black Forest region of Germany. I'd love to bring home some sand from a pot bunker at St. Andrews. I want to smoke a Cuban cigar.

The Montecristo is on top, a Dominican OpusX is on the bottom
Oh, wait. That last thing. I did that. Check.

This happened recently when I came into possession of a hand-rolled Montecristo Habana as a gift.

My cigar-smoking experience up to that point maybe included a couple of premium Macanudos, and beyond that, Swisher Sweets cigarillos (with the plastic mouth tips) and maybe a Phillies Blunt or two. Yeah, man of the world type stuff.

And keep in mind I'm not much of a smoker anyway. I quit smoking cigarettes almost 40 years ago when I was dating my wife. I briefly smoked a pipe when I was in my late 20s, and the occasional said cigar when somebody gave me one to celebrate the birth of their baby.

But the Montecristo was different, as I expected it to be. As I hoped it would be.

Before I got started, I wanted to do it in what I figured was the right way. So I bought a fifth of Dewar's Scotch whisky. I'm not much of a Scotch drinker, so I gave myself a test run, pouring a finger into a glass with a couple of ice cubes.

Man, this is the life...
 Now, I like my whisky as much as anybody, but the Dewar's could have been battery acid as far as I knew. I should have aimed higher, maybe something like a Glenlivet or Glenmorangie or Glengargoyle or whatever — anything that Glen makes.

As it was, I poured myself a dram of Bacardi Gold, which I thought was somehow appropriate because, you know, Puerto Rico is in the same general hurricane path as Cuba. The rum worked for me. Very smooth. A nice complement.

Next, I bit off the end of the cigar and spit it out. The couth thing to do would have been to cut off the end, but I'm currently into man of the world stuff and it somehow seemed the proper thing to do.

And then I lit up. I did this on our back porch because if you smoke a cigar inside the house, the odor/aroma lingers longer than a marriage ever could, and I didn't want to be in that kind of jeopardy. Then I drew my first draw. Oh my God. I wonder if they smoke cigars in heaven?

Anyway, it was a very mild sensation. Cigar smoke is not only something you smell, but also taste, and this had a certain delicacy on my palate that I didn't expect. I sat back in my wicker chair and puffed away.

I didn't inhale. I did that once with a cigar a long time ago (maybe it was a Swisher Sweet) and it was a hard lesson learned. I might still suffer from decades-old residual coughing because of that one faux pas.

A few minutes later I was feeling like some kind of Monopoly tycoon, so I decided to walk around the house and inspect my eighth-acre of property. It looked great and I was supremely pleased with my domain. I puffed up and then puffed on.

Then I thought about celebrating championships. I might have had a Pepsi when the Philllies won their World Series titles in 1980 and again in 2008, but now I had a Montecristo and so I belatedly and sublimely saluted those satisfying moments in my life. Thank you, Mike Schmidt. Thank you, Cole Hamels.

And it went on. Thank you, Miracle on Ice. Thank you, Neal Armstrong. Thank you, Secretariat. Thank you, Joe McIntosh. I figured I may never smoke this way again, and I was going to take advantage of it while I could.

Finally, inexorably, the cigar worked its way down to a stub. I was done. It took maybe 45 minutes and I savored every bit of it. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the stub, so I buried it. Respectfully.

Then I reflected. It was all a nice moment, now all up in smoke.

Life is good. Check.

1 comment:

  1. Scotch is an acquired taste my friend and different flavors like those cigars, but once you acquire it...heaven in a bottle. Might I suggest Famous Grouse, not quite as peaty as the Dewars. I'll let you keep your cigars, but if you want to get rid of the Dewars you know where to find me.