When I was in middle school I loved me an inside joke. My favorite thing to do was write in a friend’s yearbook in a language that seemed all our own. No one could understand our references to “Sally Kiegel” and “special schedules” and “‘you may go.'” That’s because they were just ours.
Now, ten years later, I still laugh when I read those words, even though they mean nothing to anything else. But there’s more to inside jokes than silliness. A good inside joke just might be the single thing that can elevate an acquaintanceship to a friendship.
Let me explain myself.
In MWF Seeking BFF, I tell the story of my friendship with Natalie. It started with a simple debate about rompers during a book club. The next day, when I spotted one out in the wild, it seemed the perfect excuse to text my new pal. It was our very first text exchange, and opened the door for us to text back and forth about rompers, and eventually other common interests, and eventually brunch plans. An inside joke becomes something that only you and your friend understand, or, at least, an excuse to open the lines of communication beyond friendly book club announcements or fundraiser invitations.
This has become something I look out for whenever I have a new friend. It doesn’t always have to be a middle school-esque gibberish joke. It could just be something you have in common that is specific to you. My work friends and I once started a fitness team called The Transformers. Now, whenever I see a random transformer poster, I take a picture and send it to them. Another friend loves bad dance movies as much as I do. (I saw Jessica Alba’s Honey in the theater. Twice. True story.) Whenever I hear about Step Up 4-H: You’ve Been Served the Last Dance, I go straight to her. And when I watched ABC Family’s Revenge of the Bridesmaids last night? The only person I wanted to call was Joan, who loves a good TV movie more than anyone I know.
This is what friendship is. Think about your bestest BFF. There are things you see, or hear, or remember, that make you pick up the phone and call immediately. These are the little reminders that, hey, you need to shoot her a hello and say, “I’m thinking of you.” When I look back at any of my new friendships, it is this moment when we went from “people who know each other” to “friends.” When we shared an intangible random connection, not just a sushi roll or a bottle of wine.
Have you been there? Did a joke or some other inside nugget elevate one of your friendships?
Book clubs are reading MWF Seeking BFF, and the conversations have been fascinating! Read it with your book club and you can use these discussion questions. Or I’d be happy to Skype with your group if it meets in April or later. (March is all booked up!)