There’s a meme being shared on Facebook a lot during this flu season. Perhaps you’ve seen it; it features a woman tending to her husband who is sick in bed. She’s asking him, “Can I bring you, anything, dear? A tissue? An aspirin? Your balls, maybe?”
Last week, both Liz and I got sick. I had no flu-like symptoms – no fever or chills, no aches and no congestion. Mine were more biblical. You probably remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech where he quotes the book of Amos, with judgment running down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. There was no judgment at my house and probably not much righteousness either, but I more than made up for that by doubling down on the running and streaming.
I got sick on a Sunday night and finally went back to work – whining the entire time – on Thursday. By contrast, Liz on Tuesday got the same thing I had but by Thursday was back at the office, helping lead a two-day meeting. Then she came home and painted the kitchen (but it’s a small kitchen, plus she used a roller, so BFD, amirite?).
OK, so maybe I’m a wimp, and maybe lots of other men are, too. But if we are, I contend it’s because women get more practice at dealing with serious discomfort.
Starting when they’re teens, women have their “monthlies.” This means dealing with bloating, cramping and perhaps worst of all, enduring those cringe-inducing commercials for feminine hygiene products.
After putting up with that for a decade or so, they face childbirth. Obviously, I’ve never given birth. Neither have I ever swallowed whole a canned ham, but if I did, I imagine the next morning would be a lot like having a baby (although I wouldn’t have to name the ham or save for its college education. The ham would have to scam a scholarship, just like I did).
And all during those golden, fecund decades, there’s the whole PMS issue and its mood swings, fatigue, irritability, depression, and tender breasts. Apart from the tender breasts, this perfectly describes my typical workday. The difference is that I know my symptoms will end at 5 p.m., while women have to put up with them until the wonder years of menopause.
I think I’ve made my point, so I’ll stop here.
For the most part, men’s problems don’t come close to these. Not to discount the very serious issues many men face, such as prostate cancer and heart disease and man boobs, but the worst that most of us have to suffer through is brutal hangovers and toxic flatulence. And of course, in the case of the latter, when I say, “suffer through,” I mean, “revel in.” The only people really suffering here are our wives and the people sitting next to us at the movies.