The other day was my birthday. Instead of the usual ice cream and cake, I had a headache, chills, and a low-grade fever. I didn’t mind, really. When your birthday is on a holiday, you get used to just taking it easy and not making a big deal about the day. My birthday was New Year’s Day. We don’t go out for New Year’s Eve anymore, so New Year’s Day is usually a day on which I kick up my feet and watch a lot of television. Being sick was pretty much, well, a bonus. I posted this on my personal Facebook page and got the predicted response. A lot of people sent messages saying “Happy Birthday” and they hoped I felt better. I felt lousy, but not like I was terminal. I’m almost 50 years old and I know how to manage being sick. I had my favorite Remington blanket, my slippers and my trusty cardigan. I had tea and coffee and was able to eat small meals. I was doing pretty well, having slept late (for me) and getting some well-deserved rest. Well, until I got the dreaded accusation.
A few of you are about half a block ahead of me here. The rest of you will be caught up in a moment. I got accused of something that I get accused of every time I sneeze or have a low-grade fever. I got lumped into a group of sufferers and hypochondriacs that I, quite honestly, don’t belong to. I got accused of having The Man Flu.
The Man Flu is something concocted by women that implies that any ailment a man suffers is, by default, 10 times worse than the same ailment if suffered by a woman. It is said that a woman with a dual diagnosis of dysentery and malaria will still get the kids off to school, go to her own job, come home, cook dinner and do the laundry while bleeding from the eyes and running a fever of 508 degrees. A man with a hangnail will take a week off from work. This simply is not true. (“It is, too!” my wife just screamed from the other room.) Men are not some sickly fraternity that thrives on tormenting the women in our lives. I can only speak for the men I know, but I have been in an office of a bunch of men, all of whom have a degree of a winter cold and we managed to get by, all the while sneezing, hacking and blowing our collective noses. We were not at home, curled under blankets while our wives played Florence Nightingale. This is pure, unadulterated bunk.
For what it’s worth, my wife is still shouting from the other room. If you can hear her, and undoubtedly some of you can, allow me to rebuke. She did not bring a tray of toast and orange juice to me on the couch. I did not ring a little bell for her to bring me things when I requested them. I’ll admit to asking her to hand me the television remote. Additionally, she did get me a single glass of orange juice because she was already pouring herself one and I said “Hey, can I get one of those?” and I did not say it, as she said, gasping for breath and reaching for it like a man in the desert reaching for water. Don’t listen to that big sigh, either. She is not exasperated. I asked once for a cookie from the kitchen and she said she would be happy to bring me the cookies, but she was going to take my temperature with the “other thermometer.” Needless to say, I did not push the cookie issue.
I am feeling much better. I no longer have a fever and my sinuses have cleared up. I’m a little tired and I still have a little cough, but I am much better. My wife was great while I was sick and handled it with great humor. She’s a great sport and really knows when I am not feeling well. She also knows when her chain is being yanked.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.