September 28, 2012 by pfrancis207
“Happiness? A good cigar, a good meal, and a good woman – or a bad woman; it depends on how much happiness you can handle.”- George Burns
Before I get started, let me say that I am not a smoker. I do not smoke cigarettes, have never smoked marijuana or any other illicit narcotic, and have no intention to. I do however, indulge in a cigar from time to time and lemme tell you, dear readers, there is nothing quite like it.
I have friends who smoke cigarettes and they tell me it’s quite nice, especially when drinking or after a passionate roll in the hay with a lover. I’m sure they are, but something that addictive is not something I want to be at the mercy of the rest of my life.
My friends who smoke marijuana are even more enamored with it than my Marlboro men are with their bogies, saying how there are no harmful effects from smoking weed. Right, just because the guy you bought it from doesn’t have a surgeon general’s warning on the dimebag doesn’t mean its safe to spark up and inhale into your body. Have never smoked weed in my life and have no interest whatsoever.
But Cigars, oh what beautiful memories they capture. A cigarette or a doobie are daily events for some of my friends and as such, lost their luster a long time ago with them. But every month or so, I’ll take a trip to the Tobacco Barn on Elm Street in Westfield, Massachusetts (when I’m at school) or to the Old Port Tobacco and Wine Shop in Portland, Maine (when I’m at home) and make a small purchase, generally an $8 to $10 Rocky Patel Oscuro or my all time favorite, a CAO Brazilia, one of the darker cigars on the market in about a 56 ring gauge.
A cigar is a magical accessory for any gentleman, for it can turn any ordinary moment into an extraordinary memory. That’s why the birth of a child is punctuated by the proud papa handing out cigars to the assembled masses and sparking up outside the hospital. A cigar after a fine steak is one of life’s simplest pleasures, right up there with sitting next to your old man fishing, crushing bud heavies and smoking the cheapest stogies you can find (rule of thumb, good cigars with fine liquor, cheap cigars with beer).
It was June 17th, 2008. Five days after my eighteenth birthday. And the Boston Celtics were about to do it again.
As is the case with most families in New England, sports are of great importance in my house. The Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Boston Bruins all hold special places in my family’s heart. However, whenever the Boston Celtics are on the basketball court, my house shuts down.
My father is a rabid fan and has been since his childhood, when the legendary Bill Russell led the Celtics to arguably the greatest run in pro sports history, winning 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons. And my father had been waiting since 1986 to see the Boston Celtics win another one. And he was about to share it with me.
Earlier that day, my father took me to a gas station, found two cheap cigars and said, “when they win, we’ll smoke these for Red.” He was of course referencing Arnold “Red” Auerbach, the legendary coach, general manager and executive who had worked with the Celtics for basically his entire life until his death in 2006 at the age of 89.
Auerbach was notorious for lighting up a cigar whenever he felt the game was in the sack and, having led the Celtics to nine NBA titles as a head coach, he did it quite frequently. So it was only right for the Francis boys to light up following a Celtics championship in honor of Red.
The game itself is a collection of moments to me now, as the Celtics dominated their arch-rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, by 39 points in the Boston Garden. I remember Celtics captain Paul Pierce pouring red gatorade all over head coach Doc Rivers with less than a minute remaining. I remember Kevin Garnett screaming “Anything is possible” in a post game interview. I remember seeing my father jump up and down like a crazy man as the moment he had waited for for so long was here.
And his son was there to see it with him.
My mother has never been a big fan of smoking (though my father smoked Merits until I was two), but even she was excited for us. She grew up in Vermont and as such, was not connected to sports like my father the Rhode Islander. Yet she stood by the window beaming as we ventured out to the back yard in our green jerseys, cigars in tow.
I remember each drag, especially the first one, for I was proud as punch that I didn’t cough. We sat out there for a bit, then walked around the neighborhood, hooting and hollering so loudly I thought for sure some of the more curmudgeonly neighbors would call the boys on us.
I remember the thick plumes of smoke enveloping our heads as we walked, reminiscing about the great games we’d seen, the great moments of this game, and what it really is to be a fan of the greatest organization in all of professional sports, the Boston Celtics.
When it came time to put it out, my head was spinning. I had inhaled each drag and was ill prepared to have done so. But I champed it and went to bed smiling, for my team was back on top where they belonged.
Unlike the Red Sox, for whom I have witnessed two world series championships in my life and have only recently begun to get truly hurt by, the Celtics had been terrible or mediocre basically my entire life (save for the early, early ’90’s when Larry Bird and Kevin McHale were in the twilight of their careers, and before Reggie Lewis passed away). So to see them win, with my father, was the best eighteenth birthday present a New England boy could ask for.