Any entity that is rich in culture and lore has the potential to fall victim to Urban Legends, legends based on fiction but masquerading as truths. From the Urban Legend of Bloody Mary to the Urban Legend about the choking Doberman, these kinds of legends run rampant, passed down from generation to generation. While cigars don’t serve as the focal point of most Urban Legends, there are a few tales that use tobacco to blow just a little bit of smoke.
The Cigar Arsonist
One of the most popular cigar Urban Legends involves the tale of a man from North Carolina who purchased a case of very rare and expensive cigars and insured them against, wait for it, fire. After having these cigars for a month, he began to light them up, smoke them, and discard them. He then filed a claim to his insurance company, hoping to procure payment for his insured stogies.
In this claim, the North Carolina man asserted that he lost all of his cigars in several instances of small fires. The insurance company, wise to this man’s ways, stated that they wouldn’t pay, claiming that this man lost the cigars in typical cigar fashion: by smoking them. Refusing to let the situation rest, the man sued his insurance company for their claim denial and he won. The judge overhearing the case stated that the insurance company willingly insured the cigars against fire and they weren’t able to pick and choose what they deemed “acceptable” fire.
Instead of appealing, the insurance company took the judge’s ruling for what it was worth and paid the man his 15,000 dollar claim. Right after the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company called the authorities and had him arrested on 24 counts of arson, one count for each cigar lit on fire. Using his own testimony against him, testimony the man had used to file his insurance claim, the prosecuting attorney was successful in proving the man’s guilt. He was ultimately sentenced to 24 years in prison, where he most likely was forced to give up his cigar smoking habit and adopt the less luxurious habit of plain old cigarettes.
Junk Collecting for Charity
Another cigar legend involves collecting junk as a way to contribute to charity. There was a time when hoarding wasn’t only reserved for the obsessive compulsive; in the olden days, people used to save all kinds of things – rubber bands, bags, tinfoil, and string. These people wouldn’t necessarily reuse the products they saved, instead they saved them for no obvious reason or reasons based on legends..
Cigar wrappers were soon one of these items that were religiously saved. In a sort of philanthropy gone awry, a myth was generated stating that people who saved cigar wrappers, cigarette packs, and the lids to coffee cans would be rewarded with devices needed for handicap people. It was rumored that fifty thousand empty cigarette packs would get someone a hospital bed while 10,000 cigar wrappers would get someone a wheelchair. Though no one was ever able to cash in on their collection, this myth continued and junk manifested in the homes of those someday hoping their dedication to hoarding would pay off.
The Exploding Cigar
As legend states, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was once invited to serve as the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony where he was given, as tradition warrants, an honorary degree. The dean of this school was an old war buddy of FDR’s and FDR thanked him for the honor of speaking by giving the dean a cigar.
After a few weeks passed, FDR called the dean and asked him if he enjoyed the cigar. The dean stated that he hadn’t smoked it just yet, he was saving it as a personal treasure. The dean kept the cigar for years and upon his death it was passed down to the next generation. After going through the hands of several generations, a descendant of the dean smoked it, not knowing that it was from FDR. While the cigar behaved normally for a moment, it soon exploded in the face of the smoker. A joke decades in the making had finally paid off. Somewhere, FDR was chuckling.
Urban Legends, like cigars themselves, come in a variety. Some are scary, some are believable, and some leave people afraid to eat pop rocks and drink soda at the same time. Cigar Urban Legends, though few and far between, provide people with a sense of tradition: they perpetuate the knowledge that cigars are always leaving their mark on us, forever burning their reputation into our culture.
Jennifer Jordan is an editor and staff writer for [http://www.whatsknottolove.com]. At home in a design firm in Denver, Colorado, she writes articles specific to the finer things in life.
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