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Cigar Guy and Cigar Gal Come to Stay

Last week I wrote about finding my old draft card in an cigar box. How I got the cigar box in the first place – I don’t smoke – is either a funny or disturbing story.

When I first moved to Britain I lived in a small town on the northwest coast of England called Silloth. Trust me when I tell you there is not much to see or do there, though the Lake District is a couple hours drive south. During the first couple of years of living in Silloth I got numerous visitors from the U.S., most my friends, but some sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, and friends of friends. One day I got a call from a guy in my last church in California saying his son and daughter-in-law were coming to stay with me. What could I say? He was a nice guy. I’m a nice guy.

Skinburness Hotel © Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons LicenceWhen visitors came to stay I would take them to the Skinburness Hotel for drinks and a meal. The Skinburness Hotel was an oasis in a cultural desert. I went up there for a bar meal at least once a week and knew the manager and his family and the staff quite well. So, of course, I took son and daughter-in-law to the hotel for a meal.

We settled into a nice table in the front window and the son reached into his pocket and pulled out two huge fat cigars. He handed one to his wife and they both lit up, tilting their heads upward, as cigar smokers do, and blowing impressive amounts of smoke into the room. This was a long time ago, way before legislation that made it an offence to smoke in public places. Actually, I should clarify. Before it was a legal offence to smoke in public. What they were doing was pretty damn offensive to me having to breathe in and smell their cigar smoke. I just looked at them and figured he had to have a very small penis and she a bad case of penis envy.

The waiter that served us was Paul. Very nice kid. Lived in Silloth all his life and was hoping to get out one day. I knew him pretty well. When I did get out he bought my car. Paul came to our table, gave us menus, and as he turned to leave Cigar Man called him back, reached into his pocket, retrieved three pound coins, and said something like this:

“What’s your name?”

(Paul tells him his name.)

“Paul. OK. Paul, do you see what I’m doing?”

(Cigar Man hands Paul the three pounds. Paul looks at me and then Cigar Guy confused and a little embarrassed.)

“Paul, I’m giving you your tip before the meal. I do this with all my international waiters, whether in Berlin or Paris or wherever. You are now one of my international waiters. And I am giving you your tip before the meal because I know you will now give me good service.”

(Cigar Guy turns away from Paul in a manner which clearly was meant to communicate dismissal. Paul looks at me at first bewildered, but then a little annoyed, his facial expression saying “What the hell?”)

There are a few things you must know about that short and absurd encounter. First, a three pound tip, even back then, was outrageously mean. Second, I knew for a fact that this was Cigar Guy’s and Cigar Gal’s first trip outside of California. When Cigar Guy’s father called me he said that his son and daughter-in-law had never travelled internationally and could I keep an eye on them. And third, as soon as it was time to go to the bar and get us more drinks I apologised to Paul, the woman behind the bar and anyone else I thought might run into Cigar Guy and Cigar Gal.

A week later when they left Silloth, having first filled my house with cigar smoke, they gave me a box of those obscenely huge cigars. I tossed the cigars but kept the box, which now holds my draft card and a whole lot of photos.

I thought for a while the whole thing was a joke and when they left they had a good laugh at my expense. That would have been OK with me, but I think Cigar Guy and Cigar Gal were for real. I never saw them again.

Copyright © 2014 Dale Rominger

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  • Response
    Very interesting reading stuff, cigar is a popular thing, good quality cigars are a symbol of status. People like it and enjoy.

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