May 6th, 2011
Date Unknown: Freak Flags
We all have freak flags, my affectionate term for the things that make each of us our wonderfully perfect selves. The process of revealing them, unfolding our flag so others can see it, is an exercise of trust and one that may be helped with distilled spirits.
This unfolding process is especially difficult in dating.
Take a first date. Nevermind praying we don’t have chicken piccata between our teeth, you are both trying to be yourself but not a creepshow – just generally trying to have a good time and not do anything embarrassing. Early on, we are understandably protective of our freak flags. Yet, as first dates turn into second dates and then third and so on, we begin to reveal the patches that make up our flags.
In my mind, our flags are made up of patches representing our histories and experiences and quirks and personalities. They reflect what’s shaped us, how we see the world, what matters to us, what makes us tick, what we are proud of, what we are ashamed of, what we like to do when no one’s looking, what makes us get up in the morning, what makes us, us.
One of my flag’s patches is one that will never in the history of mankind ever be desirable or sexy or charming.
I have the snoring patch.
Now, you may be thinking, “Oh, snoring! Big deal! I snore too.” No. I freaking SNORE, kids.
And it’s not like I look like Paul Bunyan or anything. It’s just that, according to my ENT, I have a “floppy soft palette” (sexxxy alert!) and that’s what creates my nighttime lullabies.
There’s something to be said for being different, for having a patch on my flag that isn’t “typical” for a woman. Would I rather have different patches like, say, Amelia Earhart or Babe Didrikson had? Yes. But I was dealt the snoring extraordinaire patch. So it goes.
I have several married friends whose husbands snore, and they tell me about it over frozen-no-salts, and I laugh at how the tables will be turned with my husband one day. But then, as we order another round I begin to picture my floppy pallete as Chet from “Weird Science” when Lisa turns him into a big, fat blob at the end of the movie, sitting there in the back of my throat, drinking and threatening surrounding tissue with greasy pork sandwiches served in dirty ashtrays.
In case you are wondering if I’m exaggerating (who me?), let me regale you with this bit of information.
I had to fill out of survey before a sleep study I did. Since I have never actually heard myself snore – except when I wake myself up (sexxxy alert #2!), I decided to ask a few people who have heard it of late.
The below emails are copied and pasted verbatim.
Subject: Question about snoring
I have to fill out a questionnaire for my sleep study coming up. Can you help me answer these two questions?
1. How long have I snored?
2. Rate my snoring: 1 – Mild; 2 – Moderate; 3 – Loud; 4 – Very Loud
Subject: RE: Question about snoring
1. Since dinosaurs walked the earth.
So I started dating my current boyfriend, and my world was cupid and cookies and care bears. Alas, it was a matter of time before Chet the Palette Patch decided to show up.
Him: Do you know you snored last night?
Me: What?!?!?!?!?!! ! I did?!?!?!?!! (feigning disbelief)
Him: Yeah. No one has ever told you that you snore?
Me: Well, I guess so. Some friends have… but they said it was cute. (LIE LIE LIE. They sleep with ear plugs in – no joke.)
Him: Oh really? Well, it’s something. So you want to go get coffee?
Me: Well, wait. Like, what was it? Like a scale from 1 – 10.
Him: Ummm, I would say like a 7 or 8?
Me: (Casually) Hahaha. (Thinking: Embarrassed. Embarrassed. Embarrassed.)
I spoke to a friend later that day and told her the story, and she did one of those silent laughing spells over the phone. You know that kind, where you are laughing so hard it’s silent at first. I hung up and despite feeling a little like Shrek, I decided that it’s about time to own this thing. I snore. Okay, that’s it. Lots of people have stuff that’s quirky, big deal.
And then it happened again. I again asked how loud. He said, “well, I would have to say 10.”
For the next few days I became obsessed with talking about it. Reading about it. Figuring out what to do. I was damn well going to remove this patch from my freak flag.
And then he said, “You know, what if we just let the snoring thing go? It’s really not a big deal.”
And I thought for a second. I thought about acceptance and the line “just as you are” from Bridget Jones’s Diary (I know, I know. But I live for that stuff) and breathing and forgiveness and all kinds of Hallmark-y things.
And then I said, “You’re right. Consider it let go.” And I did.
Well, for a few days anyway.