“You and Allison are both in that camel thing, right?”
That was the moment I realized I was in a cult.
It all started as a joke. It was early February, and I was talking to Veronica one afternoon about something—probably about me trying to set her up with some guy, as our conversations usually are—and I brought up the subject of her wedding.
“Maybe you both could ride in on a camel,” I said.
And to ensure that I could continue my joke in the most fiscally precise way, I quickly googled “how much does a camel cost”. One website led to another, and three hours, four conversations, and two Excel spreadsheets later, the camel craze had begun.
Even without active goading, the joke snowballed and its reach of influence had increased. The camel became entwined in our friendships, and teachers began picking up on it in our classes. I began getting an influx of camel-related gifts—camel calendars, cookie cutters, shirts, and more—and the majority of well-wishes I received—whether a happy birthday or merry Christmas or happy New Year or good morning—had to do with camels. Do you know how many times someone has sent the camel emoji to me? Too many.
I woke up this morning with a text from a friend telling me about how the local zoo now has camel rides through April and how we should go. I wasn’t even surprised. I should have expected good morning texts like this by now.
Did you know camels were related to alpacas and llamas? I didn’t. Did you know camel milk is three times higher in Vitamin C than cow milk? Did you know the largest population of dromedary camels is in Australia?
Some days I’m actually ashamed of the amount of camel facts I know and the time I spent reading up on them.
But it isn’t all too bad.
In the midst of important standardized tests, finals, college applications, and all of the stress that comes along with being a high school junior/senior, this inside joke was our distraction. Those rainy nights in Barnes and Noble, late nights in NYC, mini road trips to the San Diego Zoo, they were all because of this. Some of the friendships I’ve made and people I’ve talked to stemmed out of curiosity over this whole mess. It was a mess, but it was a good one.
Someday, the camel craze will die down and disband. Someday, we will become mature adults and stop squealing in the presence of Bactrian camels; someday we will graduate college and start having to deal with real life. Someday, paying taxes will take precedence over googling rental prices for camels, and someday a house will be more important to pay for than camel rides.
But I hope this subconscious association never falters. I hope that when you are old, rich, and beautiful, when you see a camel you think of us:—as our Omnibus teacher dubbed it—the camel crew.
Because, frankly, my favorite thing to hear is “saw this and thought of you.”
This was supposed to be a really deep analysis of the power of association and how simple things can trigger powerful memories and connections, but it ended up like this instead.
Here’s to 2016.
We’ll post on this blog more.