Smoke Blog: Hoosierland

How to Spot a Good Cigar
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

This new batch of Romeo y Julieta Reserva Reals I purchased is killing me.

Not because they taste bad or anything like that, but because they take so damn long to smoke. The sticks in this box have averaged two hours a piece, which keeps me on the porch far longer than I expected. It’s a good thing my wireless is still in reach.

As you can see from the picture, I stick through to the end. How do you know when a Reserva Real is done? When it goes out and it’s so short you risk burn your face off relighting it. Mild flavor, good ash, heady smoke, a clean draw… it’s hard to find anything to complain about with these bad boys. My only mistake may have been opting for the Double Corona size, but I’ll live.

I had this one out on my folks’ porch Friday night, and I thought they lived in a sleepy little town until this weekend. The Fourth of July weekend brings out the crazy in rural Indiana.

For starters, two of their immediate neighbors lit off so much ordnance I thought I was sitting in the middle of the Hatfield/McCoy feud. Judging by the frequent cries of “Oops!” and “Oh shit, run!” they were more a danger to themselves than one another, however. After the rest of the town joined in, the place sounded like a war zone. I was tempted to grab a rifle and start painting “Wolverines!” on the sides of trucks.

I watched the largest raccoon I’ve ever seen walk down the sidewalk across the street. That struck me as odd until a kid shouted “Raccoon!” and burst out of the front door. His thick goggle glasses reflected the street lamps, and as he sprinted after the raccoon it struck me that this may well have been the inspiration for the karate kid in Smokin’ Aces. His sister shouted after him and he stopped short at the curb, then slunk back to the house. He emerged twice more, each to do little more than run in a circle or to sneak around Bluto Blutarsky-style in his front yard. I’m not sure what he’d have done with the raccoon had he caught it, but I imagine getting his face torn off was high on the list.

Then came Scooter Man, who doesn’t know it but he came within inches of the end of his life. The motor on his little turdmobile sounded like a swarm of angry gnats all digging into your ear canal at once. And he rode up the street and back several times, sometimes on our street, sometimes on the next block north or south. One time someone else rode by on the scooter and returned, and then he reappeared. I thought he might have been making a beer run from a party, but he must have gotten really, really lost along the way. That or he decided it would be more fun to shuttle the case home one can at a time. After the fifth or sixth pass of his whiny little engine, even the Wife wanted to end him.

There were other instances of minor strangeness: the large woman on a bicycle belting out “Angie” by the Stones; the SUV with tinted windows and thumping bass that rolled to a sloooow stop in front of the house, then drove on a moment later; the giant, unidentified bug that I stomped flat and burned to a crisp with my butane lighter, just to be sure it was dead, dead, dead; the trio of children who were obsessed with a six-inch square of asphalt for over ten minutes.

Normally these nights on my folks’ porch are completely uneventful. It was like I fell into some redneck version of the Twilight Zone. Meanwhile, tonight’s main fireworks display was postponed due to rain, so the neighborhood idiots have filled in. A third neighbor put on a nice display, but then three window-rattling booms shook the neighborhood, so we took cover.

There’s a fire extinguisher in the next room. I’ll let you know if I have to put out any pinheads tonight.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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