Several years ago, I brought the guy I was dating with me to my oldest friend’s wedding. The fact that he was more nervous about meeting her than he was about meeting my straight-laced, Italian Catholic parents speaks volumes about the depth of our friendship. After eight hours of traveling, several cups of bad airport coffee, and four packets of Biscoff cookies, my friend and I launched ourselves at each other and, foregoing formal greetings, we started talking. We didn’t stop until she and her fiancé left us at the door to our hotel room. Once inside, my boyfriend dropped his bags, turned to me, and said, “I have absolutely no idea what just happened. Can you translate?” Anyone who’s had the privilege of nurturing a friendship for more than a decade has probably enacted a scene like the one I just described and can relate to the fact that no one around you can understand the language you’re speaking because nearly every sentence you utter begins with some variation of the phrase “Do you remember that time when…?” You’ve laughed together, cried together, eaten approximately 10 million pounds of pizza, ice-cream, and Oreos together, and you’ve probably known each other since you were running around the lawn with no clothes on. Here are twenty amazing things only people who’ve been friends for at least a decade can understand.
1. You’ve developed a complex secret language
Whether code names for your sixth grade crush or naming your least favorite teachers after unlikable characters in the Harry Potter series so as to discuss them in comfortable anonymity, the ludicrous lexicon you’ve perfected for communicating with each other leaves people around you shaking their heads in bafflement. While such secret signaling lends itself well to strengthening the bonds of friendship, half the time you just want to make sure no one discovers your plot to achieve world domination. Because you were always going to conquer the world…if you could just pass Algebra.
2. You call one another’s parents Mom and Dad
This is inevitable given that you’re still trying to work out whether or not you were separated at birth and you grew up spending so many weekends at each other’s houses that you still have a spare toothbrush in the guest bathroom and a pair of Power Rangers boxers from 1995 that you’ve been meaning to remember to take home.
3. You see nothing wrong with standing in the bathroom doorway to carry on a chat while the other of you is having a pee
This is particularly true of long-time female friends.No one knows why, but somehow dissecting your latest awkward sexual encounter over bodily functions just doesn’t feel like an invasion of privacy.
4. You’ve gone through all of your “firsts” together
Name it, you’ve been through it: first date, first training bra, first car, first “real” significant other, first hangover, first baby…but when the person you were best friends with when you lost your first tooth is still around for your first colonoscopy, it’s pretty clear neither of you is going to jump ship in this relationship any time soon.
5. You still remember the nonsense songs you sang in school, and you sing them to one another’s children
Nothing says continuity like bouncing your best friend’s newborn on your knee to the tune of “Miss Susie had a Steamboat.” Those songs are only immortable because your friendship is.
6. You remember playing dolls as if it were yesterday, so how are you holding your best friend’s first-born child?
Things like starting a family have occurred so seamlessly and so apparently overnight that you feel a little disoriented when you realize just how much time has passed, and you don’t recall how you’ve gotten here. But all that matters is that your best friend is here too.
7. You’ve had at least one serious discussion in which you can sense he/she has a conversational grenade to drop on your head, and you just take matters into your own hands and pull the pin, because you know what’s coming anyway
When I finally decided to tell one of my best friends that I was in love with him, because I’d been dragging the secret around like an extra leg, he stopped me mid-sentence, pulled me into a hug, and said gently, “I know. And I think you know I know.” “I knew you knew,” I answered, “but I didn’t want you to know I knew you knew.” Thirteen years later, he still finds this hysterical. (I’m slowly coming to see the humor in the situation. Give me another decade).
8. You’ve been mistaken for siblings
You’ve known each other for so long that you’ve developed similar speech patterns and body language, and you might even look alike (though this might have something to do with the fact that you have a standing agreement to treat each other’s closets like the clearance rack at Express). For whatever reason, this is the highest compliment anyone can pay your friendship.
9. You’re often mistaken for significant others, or a married couple
I’ve experienced this numerous times with both my best girl friend and guy friend respectively. Like the above example, we also consider this a testament to our comfort level. Depending on our moods, my girl friend and I will sometimes neglect to correct the mistake; my guy friend and I have gotten bored with the cliché assumption that we’re a couple, but to be fair, the fact that I had a blatantly obvious crush on him in high school does lend credence to the theory.
10. You have, like married couples, a “the day we met” story
You’re lucky if you manage to tell it all the way through though, because you’re usually laughing too hysterically by the end to finish your sentences. Fortunately for you…
11. You finish each other’s sentences (and probably sandwiches too)
Under the rules of conventional conversation etiquette, this would be classified as interrupting. For you and your bff, it’s just the natural result of your brains operating on the same intellectual frequency for most of your lives.
12. You’ve shared so many secrets that at this point, breaking up would be a liability
You just have too much classified information. Besides, someone needs to sift through your computer’s hard drive if you die and make sure the masterpiece you’ve been slaving over is posthumously published, or delete the “Big Bang Theory” fanfiction you secretly write on Saturday nights. Either way, there are some things you just don’t need falling into the wrong hands.
13. You have no problem giving each other unsolicited advice
Because, let’s face it, they know they need to hear what you have to say, even if they’re afraid to ask, so why waste precious talk time on the formalities? (Besides, your phone battery is about to die, and this is important).
14. You remember “passing notes” in class. On actual paper
21st century technology might have made cryptic communication easier when you can just text beneath your desk, but it takes the fun out of surreptitiously sliding a piece of paper across the aisle with your shoe. (And trying it again in detention after you get caught). Today’s teenagers just don’t know what they’re missing.
15. You made each other best friend mixtapes. On actual cassettes
And you still have them. You no longer have a device in your house that will play them, but that’s beside the point. Sentimental value, people.
16. You have absolutely no boundaries. (See number 3)
You hold hands, you walk arm in arm, you undress in front of each other, you cuddle.You’ve seen one another’s bodies in various stages of development, from baby fat to body hair, so there’s no point hiding anything. Personal space? What personal space?
17. You grieve over the loss of each other’s family pets as if they were your own
When your friendship lasts longer than the life of the average dog or cat, this is unavoidable, and when you get the call from your best friend, you let them cry, and cry along with them, because you remember all the Saturday mornings when you woke up in their bed after a sleepover to the smell of bacon and the sensation of Snuggles perched serenely on your head like an absurd cat hat.
18. You can’t go public with any news without telling each other first
You’re pregnant. You got a new job. You changed your hair color. You slept with Tom Hiddleston. However miniscule or mind-blowingly awesome, if you dare as much as tweet about it before telling each other first, there will be Hell to pay.
19. You still call each other just to say “I love you.”
Because you were friends before “texting” ever entered urban slang, and nothing brightens your day like your best friend’s voice.
20. You’ve actually kept the pact you made on the playground to be best friends forever
It’s one thing to Pinky Swear in elementary school to be each other’s Bridesmaids, but when you’re actually standing on the altar beside your best friend, and you realise the guy she’s pledging her love to isn’t a Ken Doll, you realise just how far you’ve come.
Featured photo credit: PinkyYoung hipster best friends having fun posing in urban area – Concept of youth and friendship with alternative lifestyle Swear by cherylholt via Pixabay via shutterstock.com