How to Tell Who Your Real True Friends Are

Fold 300 origami balloons. Cut 300 varying lengths of string and 300 pieces of tape. Put a Jolly Rancher inside one balloon. Using a ladder, hang all 300 balloons from your ceiling. Invite a friend to your house and tell them to bring their Nerf gun. If this friend doesn’t have a Nerf gun, invite a different friend. Put on this playlist and turn it up enough that it seems like a soundtrack to your life, in that it’s drowning out all other sounds, like you’re in a montage. Let your friend inside your house. Both of you lie on your back in the floor. Shoot Nerf darts at the origami balloons until they fall from the ceiling. The person who shoots down the balloon with a Jolly Rancher inside it has to buy a box of cake mix. Leaving all of the balloons still on the ground, go to a grocery store with your friend. Choose a cake mix you are most likely to dislike and buy it. Find the expiration date on the box and create an event for that date in your gcal/ical titled CAKE. Set up three reminder alerts that will notify you one month, one week, and one day before the date your cake mix will expire.

Go to your pantry and determine which shelf or space in the pantry is the dullest or darkest, ideally both. Remove everything from that space one item at a time. Put the cake mix in the farthest place back in that space. Put everything back in the pantry, this time moving as many items at the same time as you can. Try to set and break records for putting back the most items at one time. Close the pantry.

Using a ladder, position yourself above the floor covered in fallen origami balloons. Have your friend stand nearby. Using your phone’s camera, prepare to take a photograph of the balloons from above. Have your friend stand so that their foot is partially in the frame. (With or without shoes.) Take the photo. Spend at least 10 minutes choosing the best filter for your photo. Have your friend choose a number between 1 and 300. Using your home computer or phone, perform an internet search of this phrase “[flavor of the cake mix you chose, but not the words 'cake mix'] [number your friend chose] [your middle name].” Next, if the number your friend chose is more than one digit, subtract the digits from each other until you’re left with one digit. Find the search result that corresponds to the number you’re left with after reducing your friend’s number to one digit. Look at the first five words in the blurb of the result that corresponds with that number. Write those words down on a piece of paper. If you were born before 1990, put these words in parenthesis. If you were born after 1990, put these words in quotations. Eat the Jolly Rancher.

Upload the photo of the fallen origami balloons to the social media platform of your choice, using the first five words of the search blurb that corresponded to the reduced number your friend chose as the caption, in either quotations or parenthesis. Tag your friend’s foot. When someone asks a question about this photo, you or your friend should respond with “[flavor of the cake mix you chose, but not the words 'cake mix'] [original number your friend chose] [your middle name]” and nothing more.

Recycle all but 36 of the origami balloons. Write the expiration date of the cake mix on each balloon. Write the phrase “[flavor of the cake mix you chose, but not the words 'cake mix'] [original number your friend chose] [your middle name]” on each balloon. Choose a reasonable time of day and write that on the balloon. Arrange one balloon in the now empty floor where the other balloons used to be. Have your friend stand nearby. Using a ladder, position yourself above the single balloon. Using your phone’s camera, prepare to take a photograph of the single balloon from above. Have your friend stand so that their foot is partially in the frame. (With or without shoes.) Take the photo. Apply the same filter that you used for the photo of the 300 balloons.

Choose 12 people you believe to be your friend and whose company you don’t dislike. Include the friend who is with you now, unless you dislike their company. Mail one balloon to each of the 12 people within 24 hours. Store the remaining balloons in a safe space, such as a ziploc bag under your mattress or the top of a kitchen cabinet inside a canister. Put away the ladder. Try not to think about any of this again.

On the day that you receive the first calendar alert one month away from the cake’s expiration date, mail another balloon to each of the 12 people. Upload the photo of the single balloon on the floor to the social media platform of your choice. Use the cake’s expiration date, the reasonable time of day, plus the phrase “[flavor of the cake mix you chose, but not the words 'cake mix'] [number your friend chose] [your middle name]” as the photo’s caption. Tag your friend’s foot.

On the day that you receive the second calendar alert one week away from the cake’s expiration date, mail another balloon to each of the 12 people. RT the photo you uploaded after receiving the first calendar alert. Go to your local library and check out the book I Like You by Amy Sedaris and go home.

Inside your home, light a candle with the intention of clearing the space of any negative or doubtful energy. Meditate on this for at least 12 minutes. Open the book. Look at every page of the book. When you’ve finished, meditate for another 12 minutes. Write any fears on a small piece of paper. Close your eyes and open the book to a random page. Make note of the recipe or project explained on the left page. Place the piece of paper that you wrote your fears on inside the book on this page. Close the book and return it to your library.

Using your phone or a home computer, perform an internet search of the recipe or project you noted from the book. Choose from the search results by following your heart. Make note of all the materials you need to create this recipe or project. Two days before the cake’s expiration date, buy these materials.

On the day you receive the third and final calendar alert one day from the cake’s expiration date, go to your pantry. Remove the items in front of the cake mix. Remove the cake mix. Place all of the removed items except the cake mix back into the pantry. Close the pantry. Prepare the cake as directed on the packaging. Do not frost the cake.

On the day of the cake’s expiration date, wear your best shirt and wait for your 12 friends to arrive. When it is 45 minutes after the reasonable time of day you wrote on the origami balloons that you mailed to your 12 friends, make note of which of the 12 people have arrived and which have not. If more than 12 people arrived, you are a wizard and should live the rest of your life according the prophecy of your own foretelling. Together with the people who arrived, create the recipe or project you noted from the left page of the book and then searched for on the internet and then bought supplies for. Enjoy this as fully as your heart is capable of enjoying a thing.

Serve the cake you baked using the cake mix but did not frost, as well as any other food you and your friends might desire. Feel proud of yourself in the way that a small child would feel proud if they’d built a refrigerator or could fly. Know that the people who came are your real true friends and make a promise to yourself that you will love them forever.

Avatar of Laneia Nicole

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 33, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox.

Laneia Nicole has written 339 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. Thumb up 3

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    <3

    this makes me happy and sad all at the same time.

    (i think i feel sad because if i actually did this, i know in my hearts of hearts, no one would show up at the end. except my girlfriend and my dog.)

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