There is an interesting bit of trivia about the Romeo y Julieta Double Coronas from the 125th Anniversary Humidor. Romeo had two notable releases in the year 2000, the aforementioned humidor and, from the first generation of Edición Limitada cigars, the Exhibición No. 2. The Exhibition No. 2 has a 49 ring gauge and a 194mm length. The Double Corona has a 49 and an 180mm length. If you look at the 125 Humidor, the layout is very hap-hazard. The cigars are in four compartments, in uneven numbers. For the most part the compartments are the right size for the cigars, and are divided by double walls of cedar, but in some places a single wall is used, and one of the compartments is about 15mm too big for its contents. The rumour is that the humidor was originally supposed to contain Exhibición No. 2s and Romeos, but they messed up their estimates and accidentally made the humidors too small. The solution they came up with was to lop 14mm off the Exhibición and call it a Double Corona.
Once lit, the cigar exhibits a light mid-tobacco note that leaves a little lactic stickiness on the cheeks. There is a slight note of whiteboard marker. The aftertaste is grassy straw.
When we last visited with my friend Lance Hendricks, he was in Taipei, living out the fugue spiral of an unemployable foreign cripple. Things have changed. A few years ago he returned to Melbourne, occupied the garden shed in his parent’s house, and began anew the fugue spiral of an unemployable cripple in Australia. His primary aspiration in life seems to be to upgrade from the regular unemployment benefit to the ‘super-dole’ (the disability pension).
Somewhere along the line he managed to ingratiate himself with a crowd of people – mainly female – in their early 20s. To peers in his own age group he is a fuckup; no career, no wife, no kids, living with his parents, with nothing more to show for his life than a few thousand views on his YouTube videos. People in their early twenties don’t care about that stuff though. To them he is an artist, a free spirit, living life outside of society’s norms. They don’t care that he still lives with his parents. Half their friends still live with their parents.
I welcomed his new friends with open arms, delighted at the prospect of ani influx of new life to my parties, which had become a bit dead since all my friends got married and had babies. Besides, if the girls were impressed with him, imagine what they’d think of me and my myriad accomplishments!
It was a beautiful dream, but it perished fast. A few months after he joined their circle I hosted one of my blowouts, and sure enough, the girls were impressed. “Wow,” one of them remarked. “I thought parties like this only happened in the movies.” Deep in my host state, and resplendent in my white dinner jacket (an exact copy of the one Humphrey Bogart wears in Casablanca [I’d had a tailor make it for me in China]), I was shaking up a cocktail for one my friend’s girlfriends when Jill (one of the 20 year olds) asked if I could make her something. The drink I was mixing was fairly weak already (its intended recipient was known to get rowdy) but nonetheless, I diluted it a little, and split off a glass for Jill.
Some hours later there was a tap on my shoulder, and a guest informed me that a girl was throwing up in the bathroom. I went to investigate, and found Jill in as bad a state as anyone has ever been. She was face down in the empty bathtub, bleary eyed, throwing up, and babbling incoherently about how she was going to die. She refused my offer of a bed to pass out in, and didn’t want me to call an ambulance, so I summoned Shortcake, a nurse and fellow guest. For the next few hours we sat together in the bathroom, assisting Jill through her crisis. I missed out on most of the bash, but it wasn’t so bad, really; Shortcake is extremely charming, and I enjoyed the intimate moment with her, if nothing else. In the end we drove Jill home together and put her to bed.
A week or so later Lance came to me and said he had bad news. “You know that Jill chick?” he asked.
“Sure, how’s she doing?”
“Well… ahh… she’s telling everyone you spiked her drink because you were trying to rape her.” I was mortified, but what was I to do? The arrows of injustice had been cast. I had no forum to defend myself. The 20 year olds never came to my parties again. From time to time I would see them sometimes at his soirees, and to be honest, they always seemed to be fine with me, friendly and easy going, but Lance would assure me that they all hated me. “You should hear what they say behind your back” he’d say. “They basically think you’re a paedophile rapist creep.” Over time, I grew to reciprocate their alleged feelings. When Lance would ask me if I wanted to go to one of their parties with him I would reply “No. Fuck those two-faced pricks.”
At the mid-point the cigar is very light, with slight notes of cedar and slighter ones of balsa wood. There remains a slight, chemical trial on the back end that is reminiscent of PVA glue. I’m drinking a beer, which is never a great pair with cigars, but this particular beer is an especially strong hoppy thing that completely drowns out anything more delicate that the cigar might have to offer. For an aged cigar like this, where delicacy is everything, it was a terrible choice.
One evening, after some years of animosity between myself and Lance’s young friends, I found myself in a nightclub, and at the bar I ran into one of their number. Her name was Sara. She was twenty-two years old, and looked happy to see me. We chatted for a few minutes before she took my hand and pulled me onto the dance floor, where she gyrated against me, hot and slow. Soon we were necking, and not too long after that we were lying sweaty on my bed in a state of post-coital bliss. “Wow,” she murmured. “That was amazing. Exactly like I imagined it.” I looked at her quizzically.
“You’ve been imagining it for a while?”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “I’ve wanted you for years. Since the first moment I saw you. I never thought it would happen though because Lance always told us you hated us.”
“What? I don’t hate you. He told you I hated you?”
“Yeah, all the time. He says you look down on us. You think we’re drug addicts and fuckups and you hate us because we’re poor.” I laughed.
“He always told me you all hated me because Jill told everyone I tried to rape her.” She laughed.
“What? That’s not true. I never heard that. When?”
“At that party of mine where she was throwing up in the bath.”
“Really? I don’t think she ever said that.” I laughed, as the nature of Lance’s betrayal became clear to me. That son of a bitch.
Sara and I continued our affair for some weeks, and together we would delight in Lance’s continued duplicitousness. Once she showed me one of his texts: “I know you’re having fun with Groom, but he’s not all he seems. Don’t trust him.” As the weeks wore on, it became clear that Sara was falling for me a little bit. Coyly, she would sound me out. “Do you like me?” she’d ask. “I like you.”
And then, as quick as it began, it ended. She stopped returning my texts. After a week or so of silence I took the case to Lance. “So”, I began, accusatorially. “Sara has stopped returning my texts… any idea why that would be?”
“Yeah,” he said. “That chick isn’t interested in you. She was just using you for sex, she said you were getting too clingy so now she’s with some other guy.”
“That’s not true,” I told him. “That girl is halfway in love with me. I know you’ve been trashing me to her, c’mon, be honest, what’d you tell her?”
He got all embarrassed and stammered out half an admission, but wouldn’t go into specifics. A few minutes later he made an excuse and left.
Finally, I sent Sara a text. “I get that you don’t want to see me anymore and that’s fine, I won’t hassle you again, but please, just tell me, was it something Lance said? What did he say to you?” The reply came a few hours later, at two in the morning. “He showed me your Facebook chat you two-faced arsehole.”
In the morning I scrolled through years of Facebook chat with Lance, and found what I think might have been the offending text. It had been sent two years prior, and at the time had seemed more flip than it did in retrospect. “Hey man, that chick Sara is having a party tonight if you want to come and hover awkwardly.” “Thanks, but I think I can live without an evening in a squat with a bunch of crack addicts. Besides, I don’t think I have enough clothes from Savers to fit in there.”
In the final few inches the Double Corona thickens up nicely, with burnt caramel and wood-smoke, and some nice, earthy vegetal notes. On the whole, it’s a nice, old cigar that I suspect is a few years past its prime. The same, admittedly, could be said about the Exhibición No. 2, but to me that cigar had just a little more elegance. Perhaps it’s the extra 14mm.