The woman sitting next to me on the plane was snoring. The roar of the engines drowned most of the noise out, but she was definitely snoring. It was the more common variety of snoring, with a regular rattling sound as air passed through her nose by her epiglottis, not one of the rare snorers who emit noise in a radioactive decay fashion; randomly timed and powerful bursts. A few minutes after her daughter escaped across the aisle to talk to some friends, I decided to take out my iPod and listen to some music, unaware that this would cause no small amount of hilarity on her daughter’s part.
As we were preparing to land at Sydney, the daughter announced, “You were snoring!” The woman turned to me for a second opinion.
“Was I snoring?” she asked.
Diplomatically, I said, “Well, I suppose so, but it was quiet.”
She smiled. “You should have kicked me.”
“Ah, it didn’t bother me. I snore as well,” I confessed.
“How do you know?”
“My friends tell me.”
I’ve been aware for some time that I snore, certainly before I had a long-term girlfriend who was more sensitive to these sorts of things. The fact that I snore didn’t really bother me, and I did know that I wasn’t the loudest snorer out of my friends, judging from the elephant-like sirens heard at some of the more notable sleepovers I’ve been to. But these things have a tendency of surfacing on top of your consciousness as time goes on, and occasionally when I’m sleeping in close proximity to people whose opinions I care about, I manage to catch myself snoring and then stop it. I have no idea exactly how this works, that I can detect my own snoring, maybe it’s because the unique breathing patterns of sleep begin just before the loss of consciousness. Anyway, it happens.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen every time. When I went skiing last year, I’m reliably told that my snoring penetrated through two sets of doors with ease, rather like a nuclear-pumped X-ray laser. I can only offer my abject apologies to the person who was unfortunate enough to be sleeping next to me – personally, I blame the altitude.