I've been culling short stories from my own personal slush pile, trimming their excesses and otherwise readying them for publication in a collection. I expect to include at least one story from as far back as 15 years ago. Re-reading it was a little like encountering an old lover on the street: nerve-wracking, delightful, fraught with the hope that everything in the interim had gone well with this now alien being.
As expected, this exercise has kicked up the silt in my psyche.
The other night I dreamed I was back on a motorcycle, wheeling into a neighboring town on the hunt of smokes. Cigars, actually. Schimmelpenninck Duets, to be specific: the brand Paul Auster expresses an unreserved fondness for. The tobacconist I was visiting had a drive-through option, which I queued up for. When I got to the window, the fella listened to my request, then informed me that it was too hoity-toity to be granted here, so why didn't I take it and my tenderfoot self back to the city, from whence I'd obviously come.
I felt misunderstood.
Back in the day, after two summers worth of motorcycle riding, I thought the experience highly overrated. Robert Pirsig and a host of magazine writers could wax as poetic as they wanted; the act of riding a motorcycle for long periods of time across wide swaths of landscape was in fact as onerous as sewing curtains for the church. Similarly, cigars. I've had a few dozen over the years. They coat your mouth with a variety of tar that can be not unpleasant, but in the main is unlikely to add much to your quality of life.
So why do I now want to get back on the motorcycle and smoke a cigar? My guess: perhaps I finally have the state of mind that can appreciate these experiences. My chief complaint about the motorcycle, when I was 20, was that it was too fast. I ripped through the scenery like a bee on a bullet, when what I really wanted to do was pedal through it and savor the experience. 20 years later, I don't have the time or the energy to push a bicycle to the West Coast and back. A motorcycle is a modest and manageably temperamental means of independence. It might be nice to feel the wind in my face and visit a friend in, say, Montreal or Port Elgin.
As for cigars, I dunno: seems to me a cigar is just a cigar. A Schimmelpenninck Duet is about as fine as they come, and about as much danger as I want to risk to my person when my daughters are at such a tender age. So if you do spot me with what appears to be a smoldering turd in my mouth, well ... be kind.