How to Snore in French

May 21, 2019 Updated: May 21, 2019

I’ll admit it—I snore. How do I know, you ask?

When I take a nap on weekends and don’t wear the irritating anti-snoring mouth guard that my wife insists I wear, I snore loudly enough to wake myself up. That loud. So I’m not just relying on the biased testimony of others.

Still, I refuse to have the operation to remove my uvula, the little fleshy thing that hangs down from the roof of the mouth, that my doctor suggested and my wife is urging on me.

So my wife was excited when a French friend told her about a nose oil that is used with great success in France to reduce or even eliminate snoring.

“Will you give it a try?” she asked me with that little whimper that women use to get their way.

“Anything to get rid of that stupid mouth guard.”

Last night was the maiden voyage, even if neither of us is a maiden anymore. I rubbed some of the oil inside my nostrils, as directed, then turned out the light.

Soon, the sounds of sleep—namely, snoring—could be heard from my wife’s side of the bed. Our respective positions on the question of snoring are, as they say about the War on Terror—asymmetric. I find her snoring cute, endearing even, and as a result, I don’t scour the internet and home medical guides for quack cures for her. She finds my snoring … annoying. Hence the French remedy.

As I lay in bed, wide awake, I noticed several physiological changes in my body—and where else, you ask in a smart-aleck tone, would I notice them? My nostrils were pulsing. And my head had a brain cramp; it hurt the way it does when I slurp a smoothie too fast. What, I wondered, was this stuff that my wife had foisted on me?

Thankfully, I took two years of French in high school, and two more in college, concentrating in the 20th-century theater of the absurd. Finally, I thought, I was going to get some use out of all that expensive education.

I ran into the bathroom to find la notice that contained the précautions d’emploi, as they say in France. And there, laid bare before my eyes, was a woman’s perfidy. How could she? I thought to myself. The woman who gets my paycheck by direct deposit every other week.

She was trying to kill me!

Maybe it was the fatal attraction of the $500,000 term life insurance policy that she keeps bugging me to convert to whole life at a higher premium, so the insurance company can “never take it away from you.” Ha! What she means is—take it away from her! I’m not falling for that one.

Whatever the cause, the evidence is there, beyond a reasonable doubt, if only you have completed the dialogues about la bibliothèque and le pneu crevée (the flat tire) that most introductory high school French classes cover before Thanksgiving. I’m leaving this record behind in case you notice a suspicious drop-off in my writing activity in the near future.

“Ce medicament NE DOIT PAS ETRE UTILISE chez les enfants ayant des antecedents de convulsions!”

Translation: “This medicine MUST NOT BE USED in houses with children having antecedents or else you’ll have convulsions.”

We have two children, both of whom have antecedents, as well as dangling participles—sort of like uvulas. She knows that! Why would she try to make me have a convulsion unless—you know.

“EFFETS NON SOUHAITES ET GENANTS! Possibilité d’agitation et de confusion chez les sujets agés.”

Translation: “Bad stuff can happen! Possibly older people will become confused.”

Yes, my snoring is bad—but why take it out on my parents?

“NE PAS DEPASSER LA DATE LIMITE D’UTILISATION FIGURANT SUR LE CONDITIONNEMENT EXTERIEUR!”

Translation: “Do not pass up a date with someone who has a nice figure you can use to the limit.”

Easy for her to say—I’m the one who’s going to be dead.

“NE PAS HESITER A DEMANDER L’AVIS DE VOTRE MEDECIN OU PHARMACIEN.”

Translation: “Don’t hesitate to demand a rental car from your doctor or pharmacist.”

Need I say more? So I don’t make as much money as a doctor, and I can’t give her discounts on dental floss the way our pharmacist can. Is that any reason to whack a spouse who’s been there for you in the good times, the bad times–even the mediocre times? I don’t think so.

So the French can keep their stupid anti-snoring nose-slime. If you don’t like the way I snore, get a French dictionary—and translate for yourself.

Con Chapman is a Boston writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Boston Globe, among other publications. His biography of Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington’s alto saxophonist, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

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