breath sweet-smelling air
At some point in my Mother’s remarkable life she decided to expand her horizons and join the book of the month club.
The books she received over the years were packed up moved from house to house until the time when I showed up.
I liked to read.
I realized that when I was reading I was anywhere and everywhere in the world.
And where ever that was it wasn’t were I was which for me, and for those around me, was a good thing.
I suffer from bibliophobia.
The fear of being stuck without something to read.
My bibliophobia drove to discover and examine my Mom’s book of the month club books and that was how I discovered Clarence Day.
At some point in time, the Book of the Month Club sent my Mom a copy of Life with Mother which contained all four Clarence Day short story collection.
I picked up and read his collected short stories in the book ‘Life with Mother’ at some time most boys were reading Boys Life.
Let me tell that God and My Father was NOT a book I should have read at that age.
But from that book I have lots of fond thoughts and I distinctly remember the short story, “Father Wakes up a Village.”
The story details how Clarence Day Junior’s father, Clarence Day Senior, came home from work to discover there was no ice in the house to chill his evening wine or ice water.
Clarence Day, Senior made his way to the local ice house and the local ice box distributor and, in his own way, he rectified the situation.
It was the last paragraphs that really struck me with romance.
Father’s soul was at peace. He dined well, and he had his coffee and cognac served to him on the piazza. The storm was over by then. Father snuffed a deep breath of the sweet-smelling air and smoked his evening cigar.
“Clarence,” he said, “King Solomon had the right idea about these things. ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,’ Solomon said, ‘do thy damnedest.'”
I heard Father saying contentedly on the piazza, “I like plenty of ice.”
It may have been at this point in my young life I fell for cigars.
Truly, does anything else sound so civilized as “Father snuffed a deep breath of the sweet-smelling air and smoked his evening cigar.“
At some point in my later life I began smoking cigars.
I was most likely also influenced by the life of General Grant but another time for that.
One time I ordered a box and had it delivered to me when I still lived at home.
I watched the mail and the day they arrived I made sure I grabbed the box as soon as I could so I could hide it.
That night after dinner as we sat around the table, my Dad says, “Go get me a cigar.”
My Mom didn’t say anything.
I got up and came back with my box of cigars and handed it to my Dad.
He looked over the cigars and selected and called for a match.
My Mom says, “Bob!” and kind of looked at him across the table.
But my Dad just say there with a cigar so I got the matches.
My Dad lit the cigar with the motions of Winston Churchill and sat back blowing thick clouds of smoke over the table.
We were all speechless.
When we didn’t think anything could top this, my Dad started blowing smoke rings.
My mind truly exploded.
You can’t learn to blow smoke rings by reading a book.
My Dad sat back.
He held the cigar to one side and said, “I don’t smoke cigars.”
There was a pause.
“But if I did, I would smoke cigars like this.”
As I remember it, my Dad finished the cigar and life went on.
I took my box of cigars back to my room.
I wasn’t told to throw them away.
I wasn’t told to not smoke them.
But I was told, without words, don’t be a dummy, dummy.
If asked today I will say I don’t smoke.
I don’t smoke but I enjoy a cigar from time to time.
Tonight I sat out on the two bit balcony of our apartment in South Carolina.
A storm was coming with all the wonder and fun of thunder and lightning.
I snuffed a deep breath of the sweet-smelling air and smoked my evening cigar.
It was satisfactory.
It seemed so civilized in a messed uncivilized world.
A little bit of escape without leaving anywhere or anything.
I thought of my Dad.
I thought of Clarence Day’s Dad.
My soul, with their souls, was at peace.