I’ve been hoarding my last cigar for the past three weeks or so, waiting for the perfect time and occasion to smoke it. I concluded the perfect time was not going to present itself, so decided to smoke it today.

I wrapped  it in plastic to protect it from perspiration, put it in my pocket and headed out. After spending two hours in the park, I bought my newspapers and went to a café with outdoor tables to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

I ordered a beer and a cold cucumber snack, spread out my papers, and unwrapped the cigar. When I fired it up it was just as good as I hoped. I took two or three satisfying puffs then laid it down in the ashtray.

A few minutes later I picked it and took another draw. It was terrible. The smoke had an extremely unpleasant acrid taste. WTF? What happened? What changed? I looked at the ashtray and noticed it had a large burned spot in its center where the ember laid.

Examining the ashtray I discovered it was made out of some sort of plastic or vinyl material. WTF again? Who ever heard of an ashtray being made of flammable material. Ashtrays should be made of glass, ceramic, metal, or anything else that stands up to heat.

Hoping to cleanse the contaminated part of the cigar, I knocked the ember off and relit it. Didn’t work. It still had the unpleasant, plastic taste. Thinking about things I decided to abandon the stogie because I was worried it might have absorbed harmful chemicals from the ashtray.

Are all Chinese ashtrays flammable? Does this explain why Chinese often pour tea in them? Anyway, I left the cigar burning in the ashtray and went home. I hope it caught on fire and burned the café down.

Maybe some of the mindless China bashers have a point.