Starting at an early age, I’ve worked in politics in some form or fashion for over fifteen years. I’ve been a cigar smoker for around the same amount of time.
In fact, Rush Limbaugh gave me my first cigar, a Cuban Montecristo #2 if I remember right.
Many years later, I’m sure he doesn’t even remember this but I certainly do. I was working on Sean Hannity’s radio show at the time and was still a wet-behind-the ears kid. During my first day on the job, Hannity’s producer told me at one point that I may run into Limbaugh. He emphasized that I must show Rush an extreme amount of deference and respect because the “Maha Rushie” is a bit temperamental.
Several months later, I ran into Rush as he’s exiting the bathroom. Understandably intimidated, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself to Rush. “Hello, Mr. Limbaugh, sir,” I said, shaking Rush’s still wet hand. “I’m Aaron and I work for Sean. I’ve listened to your show for years and admire you very much.” Limbaugh laughs, and says “Cut the Mr. Limbaugh crap, kid. I’m Rush and it’s nice to meet you.” He reaches into his into his pocket, grabs a cigar and asks me if I’d like one. Knowing my mother would kill me, I took one anyway. My mom was not a fan of cigars back then. I’m pretty sure I was being ribbed about Rush being temperamental.
Rush then informed me that he loves my boss, Hannity, but laughingly tells me to remind Sean that he owes him a new microphone. You see, Limbaugh is famous for broadcasting with a golden microphone and one day Sean Hannity was substitute hosting for him and broke his microphone.
This story is fairly well known. Like every other New Yorker, Sean talks with his hands. As it happened, Sean knocked the microphone down by accident and it broke. When informed about this, Rush’s response was reportedly, “He can replace it after he makes his first million.”
Rush tells me that he hopes I enjoy the stogie and that it was very nice meeting me, but he’s got to get to his show and keep the world safe for democracy. Naturally, this is all very surreal to me at the time. With a smile and a handshake, we say goodbye. I got back to my work for the Sean Hannity Show, finish the day, and run off to Bryant Park to smoke Mr. Limbaugh’s gift. I checked my jacket pocket a zillion times to make sure it was still there.
As it was, my Rush did not broadcast from NY very often. I only saw him in passing once more, but did not get the opportunity to thank him for the cigar.. Enjoying a cigar for the first time and enthralled with being gifted it by one of my heroes, I became a member of the Brotherhood of the Leaf that day, and have been ever since.
Thank you, Rush.