Don’t try this at home!

This ceegar has been something of a Holy Grail for me. Now, you need to know at the outset that I hardly ever smoke a ceegar, and if I do, it would only be out in the woods of Roundrock. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a ceegar in more than a year, and I really had no intention of ever having one again.

But once upon a time I read a novel called The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. It is set in a tuberculosis clinic in Switzerland before the First World War. The clinic is more of a spa for the fabulously wealthy, and most of the story is an exchange of philosophical ideas about the meaning of life. Periodically the “patients” get X-rayed to see how their lungs are doing (and they get what we know now to be fatal doses of X-rays — if they survive the tuberculosis, they’ll die of cancer). And the two main characters have their  philosophical conversations whilst smoking Maria Mancini cigars.

Since reading that novel more than a decade ago, I’d wanted to try a Maria Mancini. None of the cigar stores I visited had ever heard of the brand, though one friend who owns a cigar store told me he could try to find them, but I’d have to buy a whole box of them if he did. When I was in London after my ill-starred trip to Kenya a couple of years ago, the tobacconist in the airport “mall” was not open during my five overnight layover hours. I might have snagged one there. When friends (and offspring) have gone to Europe, I’ve always asked them to bring me back a Maria Mancini, but no one has been able to find them. Many people assured me that they didn’t exist, that they were a made-up brand for a novel.

I knew otherwise. I’d looked for them online a few years ago and found that I could buy them, but once again, I had to get a whole box. I wasn’t going to do that since I don’t expect to smoke an entire box of cigars in the rest of my natural life (and beyond if I ever become a zombie). Thus I kept holding out for just one.

Then, after another smug assurance by someone who should know me better, I looked online again and found that I could buy just five Maria Mancini cigars. And I did. Then I waited for the next trip to Roundrock when the temperature was reasonable enuf to allow me to sit still for a half hour or so without getting cold. That visit was two weekends ago (when it was so windy), and I fired one up with great anticipation.

Boy was I disappointed! I don’t claim to be knowledgeable about ceegars, but if there is a ceegar variety on steroids, this would be the one. I was reeling after smoking the first one. It felt like someone had taken a garden rake to the back of my mouth. I had exotic dreams that night and felt incredibly nervous the next day. And the cigar didn’t even have a nice aroma. In fact, it was so disappointing that I smoked two of them!

For that last statement to make sense I need to explain. Sometimes ceegars will burn wrong, smoldering down one side rather than just at the end. I understand this has to do with how they are originally rolled. Whatever the reason, my ceegar burned lengthwise and started to look like someone had put an exploding plug in it. (These exploding plugs really do exist, and I may or may not have been party to putting one if a friend’s ceegar on a camping trip some years ago.) The photo below is of the first Maria Mancini I smoked. There’s no pleasure in this kind of ceegar, and I stomped it out shortly after I took this photo.

Thinking I merely had one bad experience, I tried a second Maria Mancini. The very same thing happened. Maybe I got a bad batch. Or maybe the online site with the discount pricing was selling seconds. Two bad ceegars in one afternoon is enuf for any fool, and I stomped the second one out shortly after it proved itself kin to the first one.

Now I have three of the beasts riding around in my truck. I figure I’ll throw them into the next campfire we have, or I’ll give them out if I want to (temporarily) impress someone.

There are a few things I’d like to do before I come to the end of my natural life (or longer — see above). I’d like to find an arrowhead. I’d like to see the Northern Lights. And I’d like to enjoy smoking a Maria Mancini. So far I’ve achieved none of those.

Missouri calendar:

  • Spring peeper calling is at its peak.
  • Red cedars release pollen.

7 Responses to “Don’t try this at home!”

  1. DougT Says:

    It’s been years since I read The Magic Mountain. I had always assumed that the Maria Mancini brand was fictitious. I wonder if I would read those sections differently now, knowing that it’s a really terrible cigar

  2. Beau Says:

    I indulge with a similar veracity, and frequency… my brother gave me a box of ceegars from somewhere south- Nicaragua I think, with a special label- they are the best I’ve ever had, including a few Cuban varieties. That box is going on 5 years now…

  3. Ed Abbey Says:

    I’ve done two of your three things listed at the end. I’m not sure I’m interested in the smoking of a Maria Mancini. For me, the biggest thrill was staying all night and watching a spectacular display of northern lights.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    That’s a very funny ceegar story, Pablo. I’m going to have to google around a bit to see what’s up with Maria Mancini ceegars. I hope you get to have those three wishes come true.

  5. roger Says:

    i’d like to grow and cure my own tobacco. thought i’d smoke it in a pipe. i might accomplish that. i just read peter coyote’s piece (in the sf chronicle) about visiting a cuban ceegar factory. i’ll never roll a ceegar.

    growing peanuts is on my list too.

  6. zilla Says:

    Nicotine transdermal patches seem to cause exotic dreams, too. Weird, because cigarettes don’t. I liked the exotic dreams the patches caused, but the other side effects made them impossible for me to stick with.

    Can you see the aurora from your neck of the woods, or would that goal require travel? We get a decent show occasionally in northern Michigan, and I have to say, it’s almost mystical, almost supernatural.

  7. Roundrock Journal » Blog Archive » All burned up Says:

    […] those Maria Mancini ceegars I wrote about way back when? (The ceegar that was so bad I smoked a second one!) They were […]

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