From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul


Asister is the cure for swollen heads and ego trips. One may be a star, a chief executive— famous and rich and beautiful. But one’s sister has the family photo album, and a long, long memory and a tendency to wink at one on top occasions.

Pam Brown

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.

My two sisters and I recently slept four-in-a-room with our mother during a mother-daughters weekend at the Greenbrier in White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia. If you know the place, you understand why we decided to bunk together. It’s not your average Motel 6. We tried to economize so we could afford a few postcards from the gift shop. Besides, it was togetherness we wanted, so why not?

The slumber party lasted exactly one night.

One very long night.

Mother said it wasn’t her. My older sister, Mary, said, “Don’t look at me!” Anne said she never snores and it certainly wasn’t yours truly. I am a very quiet sleeper; besides that, I was awake the whole night. How can you sleep when the room is vibrating and the windows are rattling?

At one point Mary took the cushions off the chair and moved to the tub. I tried to filter the noise through the pillows I stole from under other people’s heads, making a kind of foursquare sound barrier around my face. Anne spent a lot of time flipping through the channels with the “mute” button on, and Mother says she lay awake all night counting her blessings, which did not include daughters with normal nasal passages.

So who was doing all the snoring?

Nobody is admitting to anything, but I personally KNOW it was all three of them.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” I told them as we lined up at the hotel desk to rearrange our sleeping accommodations. “Some of us snore, and some of us do not. . . . Me, for example.”

“Do too,” they said.

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

“Girls, girls,” Mother sang in the same tone of voice when we used to argue over who was kicking whom under the table. “You all snore. It’s something you inherited from your father.”

Having been raised in a nice family, we did not sass. We just rolled our eyes way back in our heads and said, “Sure, Mom.”

What’s so bad about snoring? Not that I have any kind of confession to make. Snoring is no reflection on a person’s morals or intelligence. In fact, it’s a sign of personality. People who snore are just expressing themselves, even as they sleep, right?

My sister, Anne, is a medical doctor, always concerned about others—and very frugal. All this comes through (loud and clear) while she sleeps. She saves each snore up, sort of like she’s reluctant to bother with it. She goes along quietly for a few minutes, then all of a sudden, “SNNNNNNNGGGGGRRRRRGGGG!” A hand grenade goes off in the bed next to you. Mary—the one who slept in the tub—is dependable, deliberate and straightforward: Hhunnnnn . . . shhhhhh . . . Hhunnnn . . . shhhhhhh. All night long, she never missed a hunnnnn-shhhhhh.

Mother is the most ladylike, mannerly person I know. Her snores are polite, dainty whispers. Most of the time. Every once in a while, she gets a little out of character, but just yell “MAMA!” with authority, and she stops. For a while.

I read somewhere that the body requires eight quarts of air per minute when lying down, which means, in the room that night—if my math is right—my sisters and I took in and let out 14,960 quarts of air between us, give or take a few thousand coming from the tub. Researchers at the Stanford University Sleep Disorder Clinic say sixty percent of all men between the ages of forty and sixty-four “snore heavily.” They don’t give the figures for women. But I can tell you this: only one out of four in my immediate family of origin does not, and I am the DOES NOT.

I looked up the word “snore” in the dictionary, and there on the “sn” page were all those noisy-nose words: snarl, sneer, sniff, snicker, snivel, snoot . . . but there was one missing:


Ina Hughs

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