Friday, December 4, 2015


Every now and then, Chris and I will share a cigar---not a big old Cuban or a Mr. Monopoly stogie, but a dainty little plastic-tipped White Owl or Muriel, and always outside the house.   We neither have any tolerance for cigarette smoke, and shrug ourselves through the clouds outside store doors, or passing on the street, and especially the reek on a smoker’s clothes close in a restaurant or movie---it’s just unpleasant to us.

But the crisp fragrance of a tiny cigar, out by the fire-pit on a chilly night, imagining all those after-raking evenings, with the piled leaves lit WAY over in the side of the field and perfuming the Fall air with that unmistakable closing-down-the-year scent---there’s a certain charm in that which we both enjoy, aside from the affectation of the moment.   I smoked cigarettes for several years WAY back when, and after that, a friend and I would share a little two-pack of Muriels on occasion.

And from the remembrance of a beautiful, classy school friend’s fragrance of Chantilly mixed with the hint of her Daddy’s cigar smoke---I always considered that one of the loveliest scents there was, as she rustled through life in silky blouses and taffeta petticoats and dark curls floating to her tiny waist.  The scent of Pall Malls in our house was a paltry substitute for that elegant scent.

Once, when Chris and I had smoked one in the car, we went into the Mall to stroll a few minutes before a movie, and I took a peppermint from a basket on a table display.   The lady at the table asked if we’d like to enter a drawing for a bus trip, and we won a “day-trip” which we chose to redeem with an evening at the Madrigal Feast at IU.   We always gave credit for that magical evening to the Muriel which started it all.

But WAAAAYYY back when, in my first married life, WAY before all my second singlehood, WAY before I met Chris, I occasionally smoked a little cigar, in the days when you COULD smoke one in company or at a party.   So, when my children’s Dad and I went on a big company convention to Washington, I smoked a cigar with Miss Edie Adams.


There was one big dinner event on the trip, in the enormous banquet room of The Sheraton, and the evening’s entertainer was Miss Adams, herself, known to us all from her television appearances and her cigar commercials.   She sang and performed, and later in the show, the stagehands wheeled out a tall lamp-post.   Applause from the audience, for we all recognized the familiar moment coming.   And when she asked if any ladies in the audience enjoyed smoking Muriels, a great cry went up from the several tables where our group sat, with shoutings and pointings, and the spotlight settling on ME.  

I was so flustered and it was such an unexpected thing---I was the youngest person in our whole group, wife of the junior draftsman, and not at all accustomed to taking much part in conversation, let alone a SPOTLIGHT.   And as she smiled and beckoned, and the cheering and applause got louder, two of the men got up and pulled out my chair, with me stumbling my way FAR FAR amongst the tables to the side-steps up to the stage.  And every step, all I could think of was the dress I was wearing---my Mother had made it for me special for that dinner event---a snug white long-sleeved MINI-DRESS, meant for an elegant evening, and not for LOOKING UP AT.  

I made my way across the stage---I remember being sort of blinded by the light following my every step, and holding one side of my skirt caught in my hand tight against the side, so as to maintain as much modesty and dignity as possible.  She welcomed me with a hug, offered me the Muriel, and lit us up as the music started.  She handed me a mike and started to sing, and some weird something happened---just as if she and I had been right there all afternoon in our rehearsal tights and hair rollers, we backed up to the lamp, each lifted a high-heeled foot behind us to the pole, and finished in spoken, breathy unison:   
 Why don’t you pick one up and SMOKE it some time? 

I’ve never before nor since been a part of such a strange, silly  congruence of events as that crazy falling-into-the-moment in such perfect time.   Smoke and bright light and such thunder of applause in that huge, echoing room---I guess that’s how it happens in Show Business, and I reckon I can say I’ve had MY Fifteen Seconds.


donna baker said...

What a great story. I don't know what I'd have done, being the uber shy and anxious lady I was. We tried Swisher Sweets, but it was usually a joint being passed around.

L. D. said...

You brought back memories of my dad smoking his cigars with the plastic tips. That was a long time ago.

Susie said...

I liked your memory. When I was a little girl, I can remember it well, I loved smelling the cigars of the old men sitting on benches in our little town. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

Patsy said...

My daughter and her friend do that, they don't smoke but will sit around a fire pit at times to have a cigar and glass of wine.

KR Schurr said...

What a great memory, and a great story. What fun you must have had.

Jeanne said...

Oh my word Rachel, I have the biggest smile on my face reading your post. I so remember Edie Adams and her Muriel ads. Your personal story is adorable. I never smoked but many of my friends did and two of my sisters. I can picture your young beautiful self on stage with Edie Adams. A memory worth remembering and writing about. I am sure when you and Chris take a special moment out of your day to sit back and enjoy a small cigar, brings that memory to you every time. Thank you for the best smile I have had for days.

Your comment on the nativity is so sweet. I can only say, most of my life has been a fun and happy one. With so many people out there having the sad existence of losing jobs, going hungry and unspeakable sad things in their lives, I am blessed beyond belief. I am also blessed to have met you through blogging. Even though I have not been able to visit much of late, you always comment in the most charming way. I love you for that. Thank you dear friend.

Always your friend and biggest fan.

Jacqueline said...

How funny - especially the short dress! You are famous!
Sounds like it is a wonderful time - having everyone move back closer. Have a joyous Christmas and more fun parties. Glad to know the pink cups are still giving!

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Great post. I have never smoked. My grandfather smoked a cigar. Memories are such treasures. Thanks so much for your visit and sweet comment today. May you have a wonderful Christmas.

bj said...

hahhaa...can't tell you how much I enjoyed your post...just the cutest thing ever.
O how I remember Edie...she was adorable...and how hard she worked after her husband, Ernie Kovacs died, leaving a huge tax debt...I think she paid every cent back.
I bet you had such a tremendous time, up there on that stage with her.

I smoked for over 40 years and quit, without ever looking back, 13 yrs ago. Hubby quit 30 yrs ago....neither of us would ever take a puff off a cig. or a cigar, fearing we'd be hooked again. :)

GSL said...

If only someone had taped and we could all view it on youtube!

Kim S. said...

What a great story! Smoking is taboo now, but I have some wonderful memories about it. My granddaddy smoked cigars – cheap ones – and I have always loved the aroma. When I visit his grave, I always leave a Roi-tan on his headstone. Mike smokes about one a month or so, and unlike other wives we know, I love for him to smoke it in the house. I also remember the mixture of my mother’s smell when she picked me up from the babysitter’s – cigarettes and Arpege.

racheld said...