Aug 2, 2001 at 2:06 pm

If I were a form of precipitation, I'd be snow. If I were a medical condition, I'd be dandruff. If I were a breakfast food, I'd be in a bowl with milk poured over me. Do you get what I'm saying here? I'm a flake. The dictionary describes a flake as a slang term for a "somewhat eccentric person; an oddball." I think that's being kind. Actually, it's a tad more serious, especially when it affects one's social life.

I never miss work. I'm never late for a professional deadline. I don't forget to feed the dogs. But in my social relationships, I'm as unreliable as I can be. I overbook my free time.

I have such a short social attention span that you never know if I'm actually going to show up anywhere. At least I'm aware of this flaw and I always provide my own transportation, so no one else gets stranded. My mind wanders, and I often get bored with a plan even before I leave the house. If I do show up, I may disappear in the blink of an eye. It's amazing I have any friends, let alone ever had any boyfriends.

I'll let you in on another secret. I'm not cute enough to be considered charmingly ditzy. I'm just a flake. And the reason I'm telling you this is I know there are other flakes out there who want to date and have romantic relationships. You, like I, probably can't help being a flake. You will lose friends and dates if you are too flaky, and no one feels they can rely on you. However, you can be a flake and still have a fulfilling social life, if you follow a few simple rules.

First, do not flake out if the date is costing upfront money. If I don't show up for a date or arrive and then leave immediately (my usual M.O.), it's always for something free, like a concert in the park or a festival or a party. If my date has prepaid for tickets or made actual dinner reservations, I can keep the flakiness in check for an evening.

Always admit you're a flake. All of my girlfriends know that if I'm given the chance to get comfy on the recliner, then I'm unlikely to budge. Therefore, I, and my fellow flakes-in-arms, should always schedule plans for right after work so the flakiness doesn't have a chance to build up. Or schedule plans on an off day where nothing else fun is planned, so that you are more likely to show up just to break the boredom.

Don't plan things far in advance. Nothing increases my flake quotient like anticipation. Nothing short of the Second Coming is so interesting to me that my attendance is written in stone. Ask me to do something a month in advance, and I guarantee that by that date I will have lost any and all interest in going and will subconsciously find a way out. Flakes like spontaneity. You can ask a flake for a Saturday night date on Saturday afternoon. Indeed the less time you give a flake to do the flake thing, the better.

Flakes are an understanding bunch. I don't get upset if I'm stood up by a female friend or a male lover. Luckily there are few activities that are done in pairs that I don't find just as enjoyable solo. And there's that recliner that's always calling me.

Being a flake does have its drawbacks. If you don't show once in a while, the askers will stop asking. Don't always take the passive role. Sometimes the flake has to make the plans. Just don't ask out another flake, or you may never get together.