Kerry Key
    Cigars. Hundreds of cigars. Cubans, Macanudos, and MonteCristos. Different colors, different shapes, different sizes. This is what I saw when I first peeked into what I thought was my father’s treasure chest, his humidor, when I was younger.  He was a man of simple taste, my father, but when it came to smoking, only cigars of the finest quality could touch his lips.  His love of cigars, their smell, taste, texture, and the way they calmed his spirit after a long day at work eventually became something I grew to love.  “Cigars need to be appreciated and cared for like a fine wine,” I remember him saying once.  Sometimes I thought he paid more attention to his rolled-up stogies than his daughters. 
    The man’s passion for cigars was short-lived but he lavished in their smell as long as he could.  Prior to taking his vows to my mother and joining her until death-do-they-part, he never smoked a single cigar.  Knowing that perplexes me even to this day.  Whenever he came home from work, where he was the Vice President of Advertising and Marketing at a Wayne Hummer banking branch in a north Chicago suburb, the same scene unfolded day after day.   He’d always make a stiff drink, play with Corby, our lone-pet and his only son in a house full of girls, and park himself out on our patio.  He’d then proceed to carefully take-out a cigar, holding it as if it was as delicate as a piece of thin gold-leaf, slice the end with a knife that looked more like a hand-held guillotine, light it with his wind-resistant lighter, and suck in those first few puffs of sweet victory, congratulating himself for another day fulfilled.  He’d sit out there until he could inhale the last bit of smoke, reading the newspaper and fanning through the mail that came to the house that day.  It became an endeavor to find him at home or out in public without an illegal Cuban or a Macanudo in his hand.  If you couldn’t find one, surely you could smell traces of what they left behind on his khaki pants, fine button-down shirts or navy blue sports coats.  That’s what he smelled like. The smell irritated my mother, who always tried to wash the scent out of his clothes at no prevail.  It’s this scent that once caused our nostrils to turn-in on themselves that we all cling to now.  Abdominal cancer took his life and we will never see the satisfaction cigars painted on his face anymore.  The smell is all I can cling to now, if not forever than for a fleeting moment of satisfaction until it is taken away with the wind.