I have never been a smoker. In all my 39.75 years, I have probably smoked a total of between 1 and 2 cigarettes, all in single puffs. I do not enjoy the experience. But that is neither here nor there. What is is that I have long been aware of and curious about a certain code or culture that exists between smokers, and only between smokers. If you're not a smoker, you don't know what smokers know. It's not deliberate exclusion. It's just the way it is.

What I mean is that there are all kinds of signs and ettiquettes between smokers. For example, they can probably tell by the way someone holds a cigarette if he/she is new at smoking, an occasional smoker or an old hand. There are certain ways that men should hold their sticks if they want to appear manly and certain ways women should hold theirs if they want to appear womanly. Then there are the different kinds of smokers, for example, the moochers, who never have their own smokes and "borrow" from others, promising to return the favour but never actually returning the favour. Etcetera etcetera. 

If I ever decided to become a smoker, it would not be for the tobacco, but to know and understand these things more. I suppose there is a little bit of that inherent human need for belonging behind this. And one can find it in many ways. I'm sure body builders have their own kind of knowing. Gamers, too. I once used a word that I thought would grant me acceptance in the gaming world (the word was "nail", as in "I nailed it") but it only showed up my ignorance (the correct word, apparently, is "own", as in "I owned it" - consider yourself warned).

But I think I may be about to legitimately enter and belong to a similar clan. I may buy an Alfa. I went to see one on a whim, and I was in love before I turned the key. In my subsequent weeks of looking at and driving them, I have come to know that if you are not an Alfa lover, you tell jokes like "the best two days of an Alfa owner's life are the day you get the car and the day you sell it", but if you are an Alfa lover, there is an unspoken understanding about the joys of driving them. In my conversations with reluctant Alfa sellers (and they are all reluctant), I have come to know that once you are an Alfa lover, you are always an Alfa lover (even if you have only ever owned one, although that is rare). And I have come to know that there is a knowing but welcoming acknowledgement of newbies like myself, as epitomised by one man's observation: "So this will be your first Alfa." It sounded a bit like I was about to have my first hit of heroin. And I liked it.

They say that people find rational reasons to justify emotional things. So here's my rationale: 
a pack of smokes costs, what, R35? Times that by 365 and it comes to almost R13 000 a year. Times that by however many years you like. All I'm doing is spending money I saved by not smoking. 

See you on the road.