A long time ago, I had a great friend called Kate . One summer afternoon a few weeks before we were to head off to Oberlin to go to college, Kate and I were enjoying lunch at the McDonald's near her house, and we started talking about the possibility of changing our names when we got to college. We weren't considering legal name changes, we were just looking to reinvent ourselves, to start fresh. Little did we know, the fact that we were going to college together as the dynamic duo that we already were would make this next to impossible. It's kind of hard to be someone new when you go to school in a tiny town in Ohio and you hang around all day every day with someone who knows you better than you know yourself. We didn't know this yet and we were young, naive, and silly, so we spent that lunch devising our aliases.
In an effort to come up with a new persona for Kate, I suggested Kat (clever, I know) and then followed up with Kitty. I found this to be hysterical because Kate really wasn't the kind of person you'd meet and think, "Kitty!". Kate was suitably horrified by my suggestion and said that if she was Kitty, I was going to be Coco, a nickname I already had, but didn't particularly like. Several lame suggestions later, we gave up on finding new names and decided that we'd just stick with Courtney and Kate. The only problem was, I couldn't stop calling her Kitty, so she kept on calling me Coco. When we got to Oberlin a few weeks later, I was still calling her Kitty and she was calling me Coco. By the second week of school, most of the people in our freshman dorm knew us as Kitty and Coco. At some point, Coco lost its appeal and it went away, but Kitty stuck and now I have a great friend called Kitty.
Kitty and I have a long history of saying the exact word or words at the same moment. The most notable example of this happened at some point early in our college years when Kate was lamenting the fact that everyone on campus thought her name was Kitty. She told me that it was all my fault and that I needed a small furry creature nickname too. A few seconds later, we turned to each other and said "Squirrel!". It was so weird, but it's the sort of thing that happens to us. Ever since that day, we've referred to such occurrences as "total squirrels." Squirrels aren't limited to verbal outbursts. If she calls me from New York and asks what I'm up to and I tell her that I just opened a bag of Skittles and discovered that a white Skittle is currently replacing the purple Skittle, chances are, she's got an open bag of Skittles on her desk and was just thinking about the creepy nature of the white Skittle. It's bizarre and strange, but it happens all the time.
Last spring, Kitty and I were both preparing for major orchestra auditions. We spent hours on the phone during those weeks bitching about orchestral excerpts, auditions in general, and telling each other how awesome we are. The you're awesome, no YOU are awesome game is an essential part of audition preparation. One afternoon while browsing on Etsy, I came across the cutest little pocket squirrels in Maritza's shop. I immediately bought two, one for me, and one for Kitty and I thought that we could keep them in our viola cases and they'd be our good luck charms. I call my squirrel Don Juan with the hope that he'll bring me a little extra luck where I need it most. I think Kitty calls hers Sergei (as in Prokofiev Classical). My orchestra is playing Don Juan this weekend and I think we're totally rocking out. I bet it has everything to do with the squirrel.