My last full day in California started off with an early rise and off to take care of business. I met with some business associates then took care of the task that I was called to do (stuff I won't bore you with here), then headed back to the hotel to for a little rest before the evening herf began.
We met at Taps Fishhouse and Brewery in Brea for the Monday Night Football Happy Hour, but the main event for us was the herfing and camaraderie. We talked football. A few of us talked politics. Then that discussion segued into an examination of the Kennedy assassination, the military industrial complex and the Roswell alien coverup...before heading into discussions about Vietnam, Burma, Manuel Noriega, and God knows what else. I eventually had to move down the table for a while to talk to my old friend, John, the only non-smoker in the group.
Paul offered some very nice words of what the friendship among us Brothers of the Leaf has meant to him over the last three years or so, and I felt moved to respond in kind, but I feel like I did not do an adequate job--having to compete with the commercials blasting from the speakers right over our table. So I'll try to say this better (and for the benefit of those who could not be there tonight):
When the Tiki Bar group first started over 7 years ago, I never imagined that it would become this bond of friendship that we share over cigars. We have had new folks join, but I cannot remember any real member of the group that has left. Even I have been blessed to be included and remembered in the group gatherings from a couple thousand miles away. To all of you: your friendship means the world to me. Separated by miles and far too many months apart, it's always like coming home when I am with you guys, whether it's in SoCal, some cigar event, or my own home in Tennessee. And to think we owe it all to a silly little bundle of leaves! Okay, a carefully cultivated, properly fermented and aged, skillfully rolled bunch of leaves!
As long as we are all brothers in arms, the Tiki Bar will always be open! Now let's all sing a chorus of, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." :-)