Don't Drink the Kool Aid

I recently went out to brunch with some friends. Everything was perfectly familiar—same restaurant, same plastic menu, same four crayon colors with the stolen children’s menus. Our routine felt familiar, comfortable, and enjoyable, yet not dull in the very least.

The Culties (origin of name unknown) are the most special people in the world to me. And although we may have lost a few members of our special group and made new friends along the way, this core set of friends has always been there for me, helped me out when I needed it, and made me who I am today. And while sometimes we may want to scratch at each other’s eyes and pull each other’s hair out (wait- is that just me?), we truly, deeply love each other.

But the weirdest thing happened last week at brunch. As we sat around familiar orders of chocolate chippies, blueberry syrup drenched pancakes, and steaming sugary apple pancakes—along with unfamiliar orders like egg white omelet…— we saw our past flash before us. As we sat in old Hanes t-shirts and worn sweatpants, feeling like the coolest, most carefree people in the world, we watched as tiny thirteen year olds, braces flashing, Tiffany’s jewelry chiming, pranced into one of our usual booths under the Walker Brothers stained windows, smiley and proud to be wearing eyeliner and size 2 jeans, feeling more cool and carefree than anyone in the restaurant. How we’ve changed over the years! Or not…

We used to have our parents carpool us uptown for our special brunches, now we manage to find our own way. We used to dress up, now we barely burden ourselves with the trouble. We used to fight over who sat next to who, now we agreeably sit next to whomever fate put us.

We used to humor ourselves by reading the menu, although we know the exact price of each item, and can easily order for everyone else at the table. We used to talk so loudly that we’d receive disturbed looks from all the senior citizens seated around us; we still forget to adjust our volume and continue to shriek with laughter whenever appropriate. We used to fight over the bill, calculate and re-calculate the tip; we still can never manage to get it right.

We stared at the younger girls seated behind us, laughing that we used to be so immature, so inconsiderate, so childish. But nothing has truly changed. I love that I can name the type of shampoo each girl uses, that I know all of their mothers’ maiden names, that I can recall when each got her period for the first time, who everyone liked in third grade, who used to throw sand at each other in preschool, who likes only cooked tomatoes, who likes only raw tomatoes, who will never eat tomatoes. I have been blessed with nine other sisters: sisters that through both the best and the worst times have become inseparable parts of my identity.

We giggle as a server brings eight plates of bacon to our table, knowing that it is clearly impossible this is for us. We chuckle at the young girls behind us stretching their digital cameras in an outstretched arm in front of them to take pictures for Facebook. We laugh when a glass of ice water spills, because we know it has to—it’s tradition. We gawk and chitchat about the juvenile brats sitting behind us, proud of the extent to which we’ve grown up, but ignorant to the obvious similarities between our two groups.

I can do the Walker Brothers word search in under a minute. Sure it was made for six year olds, and sure, I have been circling apple and waffle in green crayon since I was five, but I cannot stay away from the tantalizing game. It reminds me of the endless time I’ve spent there, but more importantly, the company. I will never have another group of friends like the Culties. Together as a group we fit so comfortably, so perfectly, so ideally; I could not have asked for more.

We couldn’t have asked for better timing. As we all travel off the new destinations next fall, we know that these brunches will not last forever. We see the middle schoolers enjoying themselves just like us and can remember and appreciate our unique bond. Visually see the everlasting bond that ties our group together, knowing our group will never sever as long as we have pancakes and bacawwww.