As an American female, I was brought up in a culture of self-loathing. Like all American women, I can, with no prompting whatsoever, recite a litany of my physical flaws: I have thunder thighs. My nose is too big. I wish my arms were tighter. I was dismayed to learn that acne did not completely go away when you turn 40. My hair is too fine, and too wavy. My ass is unmanageable.
But if you ask me what one thing I would change about myself? It's this: My sinuses.
My mother is Mohawk and Irish; my father Bavarian German. This combination of genes has rendered my face almost completely flat in front. Picture an Asian with a European nose. It's not an unattractive combination -- I was lucky enough to have gained wide-set eyes out of it -- but anatomically, it means that there isn't enough room for everything to move around properly in there, and it makes me a walking, talking breeding ground for upper respiratory viruses and bacteria.
Where others get colds, my pretty little head makes the rhinovirus right at home, supplies chips, a big-screen TV and a phone line where it can call all of its little friends and neighbors to watch the big game. Invariably, my sinuses want to get my lungs involved, and in no time, I sound like Bela Lugosi. Or a trained seal. It depends. I have had more than my fair share of bronchitis, pneumonia, and mononucleosis over the years.
This also makes me snore. Like, scare-the-cat-off-the-bed snore. Like any red-blooded American woman, I denied this with vigor for the first several years. Ladies, I explained to Mr. B, do not snore. You are simply a light sleeper. Then I tried to convince myself and Mr. B. that I just needed to lose weight. 28 pounds later, it still sounded like Mount Vesuvius was erupting in the master bedroom every night. I finally threw in the towel and got a mouth guard -- one of those torture devices that holds my lower jaw forward, making me look like a bulldog with a bird in its mouth. I no longer snore. But neither can I eat anything that requires the use of my molars for the first two hours after I wake up each day.
So why am I writing about this today? Because I have picked up the first cold of the season. Too much airline travel; too little sleep over the last few weeks. And it's making me want to cut my own head off.
So I'll keep the thunder thighs. We've reached an understanding.
But you can take my sinuses.