As a kid I always thought the very essence of a friendship was the secrets you shared, about who you had crushes on, the lipstick you stole from your mum's makeup bag or the prank you played on your sister. More than these shared secrets were the secret handshakes and secret languages. To put in the time and effort to create a long-winded, detailed and difficult handshake complete with slaps, hip bumps, dance moves and twirls or to create a completely new alphabet or code, well, to me that exemplifies a true friendship. You aren't going to go through the silly, semi-embarrassing creation process if you know that person is anyone but your best friend.
I made my fair share of handshakes when I was younger (*cough* earlier this year with my sister *cough*) but the secret language/code never really caught on. I learnt pig Latin and attempted Gobble-de-gook (but I could never get my head around it) but that wasn't secret enough, everyone knew them, even our parents. My sister and I attempted a couple of personal languages, I think we must have wanted to spice up our doll/teddy fantasy worlds, but the only one that every stuck was one where we began each word with an N. So, Hi my name is Kayleigh became Ni, nmy name nis Nayleigh. It was terrible and it didn't take long for us to recognise that, but every now and then I'll walk up to my sister and poke her in the side and say "Narn!! Now Nar Nu Nuing? Nisters!" and we'll shoot shifty looks around us, and seeing that the coast is clear we'll do our energetic and complex handshake and fall over laughing.
I've had a renewed interest in secret languages lately, whether it is simply using morse code to tap out messages to one another like Oskar and Eli in Let the Right One In or flashlights like Kristy and Maryanne in The Babysitters Club or a full blown new creation like Tolkien's Elvish language, they fascinate me, perhaps because of the significance to my childhood. I think that at 23 I'm past the age of creating a language with a good friend, but I'd love to create something for my children, some little inside joke for us to all share, a tradition to pass on. As much as I love my family we never seemed to have any special activities or secrets that were just ours, and I regretted that. It's something that I've always known I wanted to do with my family, nothing intense or over the top, even a personalised greeting that was just ours would be enough.
I've got a few years to go before I really have to start thinking of that though, but until then I love thinking of these things and banking them away for those special future years I have ahead of me.