One small cold for man, one giant stress for woman

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First Posted: 9/25/2014

My husband shook me awake this morning in stark panic: “I think I have a code! A bad code!”

A code? What does that mean? The code for my bike lock? My diary? The code for the DVR that I still don’t understand? WHAT FREAKING CODE? And then….the dramatic wailing and thrashing and sneezing and hacking began. Oh. A cold. A little. Tiny. Cold.

“I can’t breathe”, he whimpered.

“Oh, you can breathe all right, because you kept me awake until 3:30 a.m. blowing air from every orifice, so I know you aren’t in danger of expiration anytime soon.”

I continue sympathetically: “It’s just a head cold for God’s sake, it’s not Ebola! Woman up! Take a Dayquil and get out of bed, ya big, fat baby. Pass a kidney stone, and then we’ll talk about discomfort and agony. A cold. Pshhh.”

I had bronchitis three weeks ago and didn’t miss a trick; work, cooking, cleaning, Pilates, Real Housewives viewing and my weekend TJ Maxx-a-thon. Generally speaking, women can fight-off any major infection, childbirth, amputation or pink eye without the histrionics and medication their male counterparts must secure. We just forge ahead, like in the days on the prairie. Not even a buffalo bite or smallpox could keep us down.

A man who sneezes? In bed for at least 4 days.

“Okay, tell me what you need. But hurry-up because I have to finish the laundry and peel the potatoes for dinner before I go to work. Plus, John Hamm is on the Ellen Show, and that trumps your stupid code, so…”

Amidst exaggerated, phlegmy coughing and overblown a-choos, he whined;”I just need strawberry cough drops and Tang.”

“TANG? Are you kidding me? Okay, the astronauts took Tang to the moon in 1962 and left it there. There’s no Tang! How about something not so carcinogenic, like orange juice and chicken soup?”

“Fine.” he harrumphed – and slithered back to bed, like a slug, leaving behind a trail of stickiness and heavily loaded Kleenex.

I retrieved homemade chicken soup from the freezer, heated it, and served it, with a side dish of impatience and bad attitude. He slurped a few spoonfuls and within 30 seconds pushed it away. He rasped: “Do we have any Campbell’s? This tastes kinda… funny…”

Me, clenched: “What you taste are actual vegetables and real chicken. You know, the kind found in nature. I realize that’s foreign to you, seeing as I didn’t crush-up Doritos to sprinkle on top, but I highly doubt a can of soup will taste better than my Gramma Plesnar’s recipe!”

He finished the whole freaking can and asked for more. I had that pot in my hand…and for one second I fantasized….but then, I remembered how well he tended to me after my breast cancer-athon and I softened. So, on the fourth day, I made him a grilled cheese, tomato soup and tea. As I was bringing it up to the bedroom, ON A TRAY, he suddenly appeared before me, fit as a fiddle, golf attire in place and magically repaired to his pre-code status.

Yes, on the fourth day he rose again. A hundred years of research and I’ve discovered the cure for the common cold: a hefty round of golf. No Tang, though. For that I have to send him to the moon, Alice. Straight to the moon.