I spent the better part of my childhood as co-founder and co-president of the prestigious Candies sorority. This all played out while my mother was asleep.
My sister and I filled up our weekends breaking furniture while trying to reenact every move in Janet Jackson’s “The Pleasure Principle,” watching The Wiz until the tape broke and practicing Wilson Phillips’s “Hold On” until our voices went hoarse. This was us, girls, best girlfriends.
But fun was fun and business was business. Where the Candies were involved, the last thing we were concerned with was child’s play. After hours of perfecting Janet’s all too complicated chair move for the 74th time, we knew when it was time to buckle down and work on the Candies mission statement.
My sister Tracy and I created fake identities and spearheaded a fake sorority for the majority of our childhood. I can’t discuss the details. The level of privacy surrounding The Candies is more than I can express in words. But I can tell you that it involved independently owned companies, a carefully curated congress and an intricate prison system. This was anything but playtime. Somewhere in the world exists hundreds of pages of paperwork to prove this.
For years, we didn’t discuss The Candies in public. Even writing this, I’m nervous. Will she be flattered, or feel exposed?
Candies gave me so much more than something to work on instead of my homework. It gave me a sense of independence: something adults tend to underestimate the value of. It gave me confidence to try things. There was nothing I wasn’t capable of according to Tracy. I was responsible for so much. The quality of life for dozens of Candies members rested in my hands.
I was six years Tracy’s junior and yet she thought I was smart enough to counsel on every Candies decision. My leadership abilities were never questioned and I never caught on to the possibility that she might have been playing for years after it was fun for her. When Tracy moved out and into her college dorm, I reacted with all the melodrama one would expect from me at 12. I sat on the grassy knoll of her campus and cried.
My life was over. This was bigger than not living with my best friend anymore. We had built things together. While most pre-adolescent girls would be ecstatic to have her own room, I was desperate for my co-everything, checking off calendar boxes for the next “come home holiday.”
The Candies weren’t real. There was no nationally-recognized sorority, no congress, no third partner named after Janet Jackson. We made it all up. Together. All the work and commitment that went into making this great thing a reality made us so much better than just sisters. On Saturdays we created worlds.
If there is any justice in the land of motherhood, it was proven when our overextended mom was allowed to sleep through all of this.