Most people I know don’t love old goat cheese. I don’t know what’s wrong with them.
My cousin Billy didn’t love it, learned not to love it. It wasn’t really his fault. It had more to do with genetics; he was victimized by relatives. A bystander. I got sucked into the deal.
Billy fell asleep one night on the basement couch. He loved winter, and dreamed winter dreams—first tracks in virgin powder, the usual stuff. He was deep in sleep, snoring away with this mouth hanging open; a scary, raspy, throat-gurgle was going on back by his tonsils. It drove us nuts. So Knut and I figured we’d coat his throat with something, soothing…help him out…something soothing like cheese. There are plenty of cheeses that might have done the job nicely, but it wasn’t a decision you just jumped into; it required research.
The first samples we dropped into his hot mouth were far too small, we later learned. So it wouldn’t have mattered much whether we’d used cheddar, Swiss, or bleu cheese. The small crumbles we started with weren’t doing anything to solve the problem. They just melted and made him gargle a little in mid-snore. That’s when we stumbled onto slicing off long strands and sliding them in slowly, like a night crawler. That would get his attention and he’d gag, chortle, shift his chin and actually stop snoring, for a little while anyway. We eliminated all makes of cheese according to their melting points and ended up with some old goat cheese as the winner. Far superior. It melted fastest and coated quickest—brown, smooth, creamy. And it helped him snore less and sleep better I’m sure, once he got over the choking part. We thought about throwing in some fish and crackers as sort of a nocturnal feeding, but we couldn’t find any sardines. Plus, we remembered he didn’t go in for canned fish. Besides, we didn’t want to rattle around in the cupboards too much. It might alert the little cousins and they’d want to join in, and then we’d catch heck from the parents for sure.
But the little kids heard us anyway and swarmed in. As a sort of cheese initiation, the rule was you had to hit that dangle thing in the back of Billy’s throat with a direct hit before you could advance to any free maneuvers. Luckily, Billy had a big mouth so it wasn’t long before everybody was taking pot shots from a ways away. And of course with all that cheese shooting down his throat, Billy shipped up some pretty horrible faces, which sent us all into orbit, howling and stomping our feet. And a bellow from upstairs. “What in tarnation is going on down there? Sounds like a herd of buffalo.”
“Nothing Mom, just having some cheese.”
Probably the most interesting experimentation came standing on the table next to the couch when we sliced the cheese so thin it’d almost float down into Billy’s mouth. You’d get a little hang time out of it, instead of just bombs away. Of course, if you got carried away without too large a slice, it might slap him in the face and after sliding in almost choke him. But he never woke up. He’d just roll his head back and forth. In later years we’d practice those same moves at high school dances, the dance of the old goat cheese. Too much cheese can do that to a person.
In our defense, we didn’t allow ourselves to go overboard. We pretended to be in one of those secret cheese societies you sometimes hear about. Strange gatherings where people in full cheese regalia performed sacred cheese rituals. But that’s as far as it got. It was simply that cheese and snoring went so well together, certainly better then just snoring and snoring. Where’s the fun in that?
Next morning, Billy came in to breakfast wearing a funny look and smacking his mouth. “Man, I don’t what what’s wrong with me.” Smack, smack. “I’ve brushed my teeth eight times and there’s still this funny caramel taste all over my mouth.” “Maybe you’re coming down with something,” I said.
My dad and his buddies pulled a similar stunt with a real chainsaw snorer once on a fishing trip. Only instead of cheese, they used old socks tied to the end of a fishing rod. They’d cast it over his face when he started in. But I think cheese is probably better.
Coming here to ski country on vacation, there’s too much to do to snore the day away. If you do decide to nod off, watch out for relatives bearing offerings of cheese, or friends with old socks.
— Joe Haukebo, Publisher
This Welcome was published in SkiCountry 1998.