Nothing can be more relaxing than sitting on the back porch with good music, good cigars, ice-cold cola and good friends. That is where I found myself the Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend.
My buddy Randy lives in Lucas TX, just east of Allen and North of Wylie in Collin County. Lucas is a bedroom community with a few thousand residents and almost no businesses of its own, and they like it that way. Randy lives in a beautiful two story house some might call a “McMansion”. It is a modern stone façade 5000 square foot house built similar to the other houses in his neighborhood but not the same floor plans per se which is where it deviates from the term. (McMansion is a term I learned living in East Dallas.) There the property values are very high and the properties are very old. A person would buy the property, tear down the house on it and build a modern almost castle-style home on it. They were popping up so fast in East Dallas it was like a new McDonalds opening up every other week. His house sits on two acres with a huge backyard. He has a patio and a balcony facing the backyard. When he bought the house there were few others around. It was like living in the country. Now the rest of the housing development has built up around him and the country feel has faded. With such large lots it the space still allows for plenty of breathing room.
My buddy and his family are generous hosts. Almost every Sunday they welcome a group of friends for games and shows and good food. The group normally gathers around 5pm and when I can I arrive a few hours early to catch up with Randy before the rest of the group, which I refer to as the “Bonham Boys” as they are childhood friends of Randy’s from Bonham TX, arrive and most of the conversation is lost to me on obscure references to movies and actors and games that I have never heard of or generally have little if any interest. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the conversation and mainly for conversations sake. I interject my thoughts or ideas or opinions where I can and keep quiet and listen the rest of the time.
So on this Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I came in a little after 1pm for some cigars and music. I brought along some Kristoff cigars from a recent Cigar Tasting event at the Up in Smoke location at Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville TX. I had never tried the Kristoff brand because at $9-$10 a stick they are a bit above my price point of $6-$8/stick. The cigar tasting had a buy 5 get 2 free and I had a 10% discount card so I selected different styles in their brand and ended up getting one more stick for free to boot. That brought each stick to around $4-$5 and I decided to give them a go. On the way over I picked up a 12pack each of Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper. While the family takes care of everything for each evening I like to contribute when I can. When accepting an invite it is always good manners to bring something everyone can enjoy. That can be drinks or a snack or even flowers on occasion.
After I arrived we found ourselves on the patio with cigars and DP and music ready to go. My buddy has thousands of songs on his IPOD and a tabletop speaker system. While the temperature was up to the 90’s there was a constant breeze and we were in the shade. Randy set up the tunes and I prepared the sodas. We settled down to what would be almost five hours of good smokes, good music and good drinks before the Bonham Boys arrived.
The Kristoff brand of cigars have a unique construction. They wrap the tobacco leaf and knot it at the head of the cigar and cover the foot of the cigar. You can certainly use a guillotine if you wish but a bullet cut or V-cut are not possible. The fun thing to do is to twist off the knot at the head of the cigar and light it up. That is what we did but word of warning – twist with the leaf. We had several cigars that afternoon and on one I twisted and the leaf started to unravel. I must say I enjoyed the three I had that afternoon. I had the new Ligero Criollo, Maduro, and the Sumatra .
Each cigar was well constructed and I could taste the variety in each cigar. I am a fan of stronger smokes so the maduro appealed to me the most. I was not pleased to run through three cigars over five hours (total) and considering the price they run per stick I know there are cigars that taste as good and are less expensive and last longer. I will not buy more Kristoff’s just from an economic standpoint. I will be happy to smoke one if I find them at better price or as a gift. Good cigars but the time and price does them in.
The music selection that afternoon was Meatloaf, and Leonard Cohen and Willie Nelson. I love Meatloaf and his music is crazy fun. I love the passion he puts into each song. I remember hearing a new song that afternoon called “I want my money back” about how nothing is truly as advertised or true to the high ideal society promotes. Your work…it’s defective, your family…it’s defective! We switched over to Leonard Cohen with his deep voice and brooding lyrics. Then I was in for a treat as my buddy played Willie Nelson’s album Phases and Stages. The album is eleven songs about both sides of a break up. One side of the album was her story and the other side of the record was his story.
And then the Bonham Boys arrived. Almost four well-worn hours had slipped away. After another hour my buddy had finished his cigar and I was halfway through my third. This evening we went to First Chinese BBQ in Richardson TX. Before we left I set my cigar down to pick it up later and made a mistake as the ashtray I used was also used for cigarettes. The taste was spoiled. If you find yourself wanting to pick up a cigar at a later time be warned it will not have the same fresh taste. Cut the ash down to clean out the foot of the cigar and then seal it in a zip lock bag. But I would not know how I spoiled the cigar until late that night after a good meal and the “Battle of Blackwater” battle episode of Game of Thrones followed by a Fred Williamson film from 1974, Boss Nigger. (That’s the actual name of the movie.) But then the evening is a whole other story.