Mark Twain

There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get for it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry.

—Mark Twain

Twain was on my mind as Marty Wells and I were sitting in The Cigar Inn enjoying an Ashton Corona (if you click the link, I was on that leather couch).

Marty had just given a talk in the Public Health Department of the Cornell Medical school—which is only steps away from the Cigar Inn—on a method to analyze micro-array data, a hot area in statistics. It was a stunning success, as always. The most difficult aspect of the talk was to keep the fans from rushing the stage. Statistics can be a dangerous profession!

Anyway, I was wondering how far we could push Twain’s words after a regular sat down next to me and, as he always does, lit up an enormous Maduro-wrapped log. He sipped from that; but his main course was a steady chain of Native Spirit cigarettes, which he had between puffs of the cigar.

Another regular said, “I don’t know why you don’t have a pinch between your cheek and gum, too.” I suggested he could also add snuff and the patch to get “the whole experience.”

This is a man of few words, so he just gave us a grin.

He was—or still is—an itinerant electrician. I remember once when he asked me what I did. After I told him, he asked what kind of money you could make as a professor of statistics, and then he asked me what it took to become someone like me. I told him. He was contemplative and said he’d consider giving it a try. But he’d move to Florida and be a professor there.


  1. JH

    This reminds me of an episode of Star Trek called “Time’s Arrow”. To view Mark Twain discussing cigars on Star Trek, click Samuel Clemens .

  2. Joy

    I prefer Twains world.

    Is the girl in purple a droid?
    When they were building a perfect world on that plannet, they forgot to invite the artists.
    The perfect space ship would be Home from home. They won’t persuade cigar-smoking scientists to travel through space in a clinical environment.
    There would be mutiny. Even the ancient sea farers had to be plied with Rum

  3. meimie

    ms. Joy.

    u prefer Twain’s world where people ride of the backs of the poor? i far prefer the universes of Star Trek to the world we have now or even the world Twain lived in.

    And Deanna Troy is not a droid or a robot. she is half human and half batazoid. she has her own opinions in the world. and if you have watched TNG (star trek: the next generation) at all then you would know that when Data learns to have imagine, dreams, and feelings, then he becomes his fullest self. Data also takes great pleasure in painting. the Batazoids are a very artistic people. i do agree with you on one point however. their clothes are very boring. do they have to wear jumpsuits all the time? its kindda annoying.

    i think that they aliens are very creative and artistic when they made them. just look at the Jem’Hadars, the Vortas, the Ferengis , the Bolians… etc.

    if you had a chance to leave this universe and life in the universe of Star Trek would you take it? i would. just think of the astronauts of today. i think it would be sweet to travel among the stars once the technology gets way better.

  4. Briggs


    Obviously, Babylon 5 is superior because Mr Garibaldi smoked cigars.

  5. Denny

    I, for one, have always been proud to claim Sam Clemons as a fellow Missourian.

    I often feel that the folks he describes have taken over much of the world and will not
    rest until the rest of us are forced to subscribe to their drab rules of EXISTENCE. You’ll
    notice I didn’t dignify it by calling it life.

    To Meimie; I seem to recall that most of the crew in your “Paradise” of the future availed themselves the use of the “Holodeck”?? in order to escape it…usually to a time
    frame prior to 1962. (Must have something to do with the “British Invasion.)LOL

  6. Joy

    I stand corrected. Was Mark Twain’s suit right? Yes, the wardrobe department needs sacking.
    My going would depend on the likelihood of the ship reaching its destination in a timely manner. I wouldn’t be a transitional person that lived between voyages and never arrived at a planet, so with faster space ships I’d consider it. However, I fear I would be jettisoned before we reached Neptune’s orbit.
    It would depend on whom I shared the voyage with. If they let you choose the crew that would be preferable! I’d take James, James Bond. If I had to share a cabin with ½ purple girl I think the answer would have to be “NO!” They’d have to have more interesting personalities than radar or whatever his name is as well, the man with the Raybans. Trouble is, I just can’t relate to the white plastic world. Many in poverty are happier than their rich counterparts. The whole Star Trek idea is badly thought out, I mean from the point of view of the human experience.
    Definitely travel to the moon given a chance. I would love to go on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. I went to the place where it is hoped to launch in Sweden (Esrange) last December. It will cost something like £120000.00. So it looks like I won’t be going. With all this financial trouble it might not happen for Branson either. Give it another twenty years, it ought to be a fraction of that price.

  7. meimie

    mr. denny,

    well we all have to escape reality right? And sometimes they went to their homelands cuz they miss it.

    mr. briggs,

    can u tell my mom that i should watch tv and go on the computer more?

  8. Briggs

    Sorry, Meimie, mom rules is the rule.

    But I think you would enjoy Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

  9. Michael

    …And the outcome of the phenomenon Twain observed…

    The couple were 85 years old and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife’s insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade. 
One day, their good health didn’t help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven. 


They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favourite clothes in the closet. 
They gasped in astonishment when he said, ‘Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now.’

The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. ‘Why, nothing,’ Peter replied, ‘remember, this is your reward in Heaven.’ 
The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.. 
’What are the greens fees?,’ grumbled the old man. 
’This is heaven,’ St. Peter replied. ‘You can play for free, every day.’ 
Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages.

’Don’t even ask,’ said St. Peter to the man. This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy.’ 
The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. 
’Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods and the decaffeinated tea?,’ he asked. 
That’s the best part,’ St. Peter replied. ‘You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like and you will never get fat or sick. 
This is Heaven!’ 


The old man pushed, ‘No gym to work out at?’ 
’Not unless you want to,’ was the answer. 
’No testing my sugar or blood pressure or…’ 
’Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself.’

    The old man glared at his wife and said, ‘You and your f….ing bran Flakes. We could have been here ten years ago!’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *