Close but no Cigar

My brother’s friend Rich allegedly smoked my first big writing award which I earned as a high school senior. My later awards were invented by my brother while he promoted my novel under his various pseudonyms. My English teacher, Mr. Agostino, presented me a fancy cigar for submitting the best essay in the class. This was a thrill because no prize was promised. My winning story revolved around a 6’10” high school basketball player who could barely jump and was humiliated when he muffed a dunk attempt. Hollywood stole my idea 28 years later with a Woody Harrelson movie titled White Men Can’t Jump. They changed just enough to thwart my claim for plagiarism. I coveted that cigar and displayed it prominently in my room for many years. I do not know how long it was missing before I noticed. And I do not remember who implicated Rich in the unconscionable act. I was crushed because logically my brother must have been complicit, although I cannot be certain anyone knew the cigar was special. I wonder if I would have eventually smoked it at some significant time. I had to let the incident go so I never investigated. I was thinking fondly of Mr. Agostino recently since he had encouraged my writing. Cursory inquiries did not lead to him but he definitely did not become famous as a critic of fine literature. I did learn that you should smoke the cigar! What are you saving it for?


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