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Tonight,  after dinner, I went out on the back porch and lit up a cigar. 

It’s  a gorgeous  night, balmy with a little breeze.  I sat in the dark, no light on, just breathing, listening to the rustle of trees, the hum of the odd car.  With my Lab, Dutch, by my side sniffing the air, I blithely watched the end of the cigar flare up in the shadows.  

After a while,  I knocked the ash off my Macanudo Portofino, let it die, then put the rest back in the tube to save for another day. 

I remember  the first time I smoked a cigar.  I was 18, at a party, when an older boy, at least 20, offered me one.  I was ripe for the pickin’ and thought I was the hottest thing since – well – Tiparillo’s. 

Remember Tiparillo’s  – they were back in the ’60’s, I had just graduated high school: an all-girls Catholic high school, in the Bronx.  We wore green uniforms and I rolled my skirt.

That first summer  after graduation, I started lighting up, never at home, but at parties, bars, and on street corners under the streetlight with friends.  They had Marlboro’s, Winston’s, and a Camel or two, but my smoke of choice was a Tip – a Tiparillo.   

There was an ad  campaign, something about, “Should a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?”  The point being, that Tiparillo’s were almost cigars, and since few women smoked cigars, this was one you could smoke and still be a lady.    

Almost cigars was actually way off the mark – Tiparillo’s were kinda’ like a bigger, longer cigarette, without the white paper, but with a tobacco wrapper and a plastic mouthpiece.  

They came  maybe five in a pack and tasted more like the smoke of a cigarette, then a cigarette itself, and not anywhere near as strong as a real cigar, or even as strong as my mother’s Pall Mall’s.  I probably went through a pack or two a year before I stopped smoking all together when I married at 23. 

The ads  didn’t merely sell Tiparillo’s; they sold sex.    Under a photo of a topless, bespectacled, big-breasted woman, with a ledger book decorously placed, was the slogan, “Should a gentleman offer an accountant a Tiparillo?”   How risqué was that !

My bra size  was 32A, I needed my glasses for walking, talking, and breathing, couldn’t balance the books to save my soul, but that Tiparillo made me Fab.  

A few years ago,  after almost 30 years of not smoking, I celebrated my 50th and lit up cigar.  Maybe it was the lightheadedness the smoke caused or the flood of memories that made me high – but the contentment immediately returned.  And, like a Tip, I only want one or two a year.   

Chocolate  is my addiction, cigars are my caprice: the slow prep, the waving flame, the intake not the inhale of breath, the aroma, the anxiety of a bite, then the tranquility when it doesn’t come, never fails to soothe me. 

Tonight’s cigar  had me envisioning that hot teenager of 40 years ago, and bending over to pet Dutch, those boobs are still 32.  Yep – 32 inches from tip-to-floor.