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About the 907th time I had to mop up overturned soup, pureed peas, yogurt, tomato juice, oatmeal, and the like, it suddenly occurred to me to devote some cognitive activity to the task of thinking through the problem. Either that, or I ran out of little side dish bowls and grabbed one of my cigar ashtrays off the shelf in sheer desperation to get breakfast on the table for a cage full of vermin vehemently protesting their cruel treatment and impending starvation. That’s a long row to hoe for a fat squishy plop-osaurus like Henslowe or the dumpling twins, Antonio and Sebastian, but the little blighters manage it. First thing in the morning, I just want to get them fed and get some coffee in me before that day’s fresh brand of hell gets fully under way. Yep, not a morning person. How’d you guess?

Regardless of the source of inspiration, be it deductive reasoning or sheer laziness at NOT having run the dishwasher the previous night, I came up with the idea of feeding wet and potentially messy foods out of large, heavy, tip-proof, and inexpensive cigar ashtrays. Ok, I admit it: not always so inexpensive. I sometimes use a rather attractive Baccarat crystal ashtray that otherwise gathers dust in my china cabinet, a gift from a former dusky paramour. But you know what? The bastard ran around on me; his gift has now proved more serviceable a selection for me than he ever was [smutty inference entirely intentional]. He was a complete rat in the old-fashioned, James Cagney-esque sense of the word. Since he had the vulgarity to make it clear this gift was a reward for particularly memorable services rendered, and since he feared and loathed the beloved rodents–a sure sign of depravity in any man, dusky and well-endowed or otherwise–it seems an appropriate gesture. I hope he’s stalking my blog right now. >:- ]

Dear former dusky paramour, did I look like a cheap gangster’s floozy to you, really? In which case, for the same price I’d rather have had the always appropriate traditional chorus girl payoff, the diamond bracelet, and continued using my perfectly functional $5 Walmart ashtray.

What (you might well ask) are you doing with cigar ashtrays lying all over the place, Dovey?

Well, the truth of the matter is that I occasionally enjoy a good cigar, particularly on the front porch or in the garden…keeps the mosquitoes away a hell of a lot better than toxic, smelly citronella candles, I can tell you. And the oral pleasure of a plump, soft, lightly-fermented roll of tobacco leaves between the teeth is not to be underrated, not to mention the heady experience of roiling sweet smoke over the palate and all of the delightful rituals that surround cigar smoking. I may only smoke half a dozen or less a year these days, but when I do, I don’t intend to spend all evening searching high and low for an acceptable and aesthetically pleasing ashtray, nor do I want to go picking up cigar butts all over the garden.

Note to the reader: you are not my mother, and the task of upbraiding me for “that unhealthy, disgusting, expensive habit” belongs exclusively to that good lady. No comments from the militantly non-smoking section, please.

$5 is significantly less than a good food bowl goes for at Petsmart: no need to pull out the Baccarat unless it just tickles you, as it does me, to feed your rats out of a “breakfast bowl” that cost a certifiable jackass significantly more than a grand, as some sort of  perverse metaphorical revenge when he probably doesn’t even remember what was so damned erotically memorable to begin with. Bitterness is not a pretty thing in a woman, but as a woman scorned, I’d feel better if I felt worse about it: the ratties seem to appreciate their posh dinner service, they couldn’t tip one of these babies over with a bulldozer, and their velvety tongues playing over the smooth surface of that 4 lbs. of hand-blown, lovingly polished crystal perfection pleases me beyond reckoning. Pleasure is a hard enough commodity to come by before noon for us theatre folk.

And I’m not kidding about the $5 ashtray at Walmart. It’s actually very simple and pretty, and I keep one on hand in my potting shed as well as in the vicinity of the rat cage. Try one, yourself. They save a heck of a lot of time and unpleasantness…have you ever tried to get dried-on boeuf bourguignon out of a Berkie’s white belly fur? It’s not a pretty process.

Cigar Wrapper Color Chart