flag that woman for 12 years

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Senior Member

It's the movie "Hector and the search for happiness".
There's this couple, they have been lovers in college or something.
Guy is a psychiatrist and embarks on a voyage to learn what makes people happy.
And he goes to Africa and find his old flame and it seems he still have feelings for her.
It's not clear why they broken up, but the woman accuses him of being emotionally squeamish.
Anyway, she gets really angry at one point and says to him,
"I’m trying so hard here to avoid the words move and on, but for crying out loud, I’m just, oh, flag that woman for, oh, I dunno, 12 years? Yeah, get back to that one when the time’s right. So, nothing, then, hi! I’m in Africa.
I mean, I’m just some kinda box you had to check, aren’t I?"

Since the story between them is not so clear, that "flag" is what bothering me.
So she says he flagged her for 12 years.
The slang use of "flag" that appealed more to me, considering the context, is "to consider unimportant; brush aside".
But then again, I am not sure. What do you think?
The woman is married and have two kids.

Thank you
  • Sparky Malarky

    English - US
    I think this comes from the custom "to flag for follow up."

    Suppose you are working on a bunch of files. The first is done. You can file it away. The second is done. You file it away. The third has a problem, but you can't fix it right now. Flag it (put a note on it so you don't forget) and lay it aside. The fourth is done. The fifth is done. The sixth has a problem -- flag it. ... and so on. You will come back to the "flagged" files later.

    The woman in the movie seems to be saying that Hector has treated her this way. He just put a "flag" on her and set her aside. Now, all these years later, he is ready to deal with her.

    Is this clear?

    Profe de nada

    New Member
    American English
    Hi there everyone. This idea of flagging someone is as old as Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible.) In Genesis 4:15, we read that God put a "mark" on Cain. The mark on Cain was to be like a "flag" which everyone could see and know that they are to be careful not to harm Cain. Well, later some guy named Lamech killed Cain and it wasn't so good for Lamech after that. Well, the whole idea is kind of like flagging a file on your computer for future reference; yet, I believe that if the man said he wanted a "flag" put on this woman for 12 years, he might have wanted other men to see she was his or that she was spoken for so other men would not touch her, or take her away. His plan seemed to be to recover her someday, so he had this 'flag' put on her also so he could easily find her again, like finding the file you flagged as important so you could return to it later. I hope this gives some further insight into 'flag' and how it can very rarely be used this way. Profe de nada
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