A fun game to play if you are bored (or even if you are not) is Flake vs. Straight. The concept is very simple. Basically you take any two people you know who have a relationship with each other, and try to determine which one is the ‘Flake’ and which one is the ‘Straight’. It is usually pretty obvious. In any relationship, there is almost always one person who is clearly the Flake and one who is clearly the Straight. And they don’t have to be dating or married — it can be the relationship between two friends, or family members. For example, in my relationship with my dad I am the Flake, but with my mom I am the Straight. My mom is the Flake with my dad, but she’s the Straight with her older sister. She is, however, the Flake with her younger sister. Rarely do you find a person who is always the Straight, or always the Flake — but they do exist. Ultimate Flakes and Ultimate Straights, I call them.
To give you some concrete examples using people you have heard of, let’s consider the characters on one of TV’s greatest shows of all time, Beverly Hills, 90210 (NOTE: This show was on the air for a long time, therefore there were many relationships over the years. For practical purposes I will be referencing the first couple of seasons only). In the show’s central relationship, between twin siblings Brandon and Brenda Walsh, Brandon was obviously the Straight to Brenda’s Flake. Brenda was pretty much the Flake with everyone in her family, actually, but she was the Straight in her relationship with Dylan. Dylan was the Flake with Brandon, but he was the Straight with both of his parents (probably one of the reasons he was so messed up). Kelly was definitely the Straight with her mom Jackie (a raging alcoholic/coke fiend), but she was the Flake in her relationships with Brandon and Steve. Donna was the Flake with most people except for David Silver. ‘What about Jim and Cindy Walsh?’ I can hear you thinking. Don’t bother asking me; they are honestly just too boring to contemplate.*
*If you really must know, though, Cindy was the Flake. She almost ran off with her high school boyfriend in Season 1, remember?
The establishment of Flake vs. Straight roles in any relationship happens organically. No one consciously chooses which role to take on — as you get to know a person and your relationship develops, one of you automatically eases into the role of Flake, and the other into the role of Straight. Neither role is better or worse than the other. It sounds like it would be more fun to be the Flake, but being the Straight is actually very fulfilling in its own right. Sometimes I love being the Straight and having a Flake bounce off me — it’s a nice energy. Straights generally get to make sarcastic comments and (affectionately) mock the Flakes in their lives for being so ridiculous, which is always a good time.
So yeah, try it out if you’re so inclined. You may be surprised to discover with whom you are the Flake, and with whom you are the Straight — and whether or not you know any Ultimate Flakes or Ultimate Straights. Have fun!