Like most people, I love this time of year: the apple-picking, the pumpkin-cutting, the leaf-jumping. Oh, and let’s not forget the eye-rolling once football season is underway (it’s my husband that does the eye-rolling). But other than my undying and bordering on pathetic love for Tom Brady with his ridiculous mullet and chiseled-out-of-marble chin, the fall season brings one more thing to my household that could make a grown woman cry.
Last weekend, I was busy baking an apple pie, flitting around my kitchen in my apron, humming the tune to Monster Mash, and floating on a high of cinnamon and nutmeg, when my world came crashing down.
“Ohhhhhh…” A low moan was coming from the living room couch. For a brief moment, I hesitated, my fingers hovering over the pie crust. No, it couldn’t be, I thought. I shook my head, giggling nervously, and continued pinching the sides of my pie, letting the apple-sweet smell transport me back to my blissful world where brightly-colored foliage and pumpkin hay rides existed.
“Ohhhhhh…ohhhhhh…” The moaning got louder and trailed on even longer, straight into my cinnamon haven, complete with a pathetic whimper at the end.
“Honey? Honey!” my husband called out, his voice almost frantic. I placed the pie in the oven and walked into the living room, wiping my hands on my apron.
“I think I’m sick,” he said, blowing his nose into a tissue. My husband’s voice sounded similar to what I’m sure most people sound like on their death bed. My carefree autumn days were coming to an end.
My husband had a cold.
The common cold: common in the sense that, at any given point in time, one or both of my kids have one. For weeks on end, they shuffle around in their pajamas, hacking and sniffling themselves from room to room leaving behind a trail of tissues. When I’m unlucky enough to catch their germs, life goes on. I grab some Kleenex and a vaporizer, take a few swigs of Nyquil, and continue my daily existence as normal (i.e. run the entire household by myself).
But when my husband gets a cold? Everything comes to a grinding, sniveling halt.
“Yes, you’re sick. There, there,” I whispered, rubbing his back. “You have a cold. It’ll be okay, I promise. So, are you going to the grocery store today? We’re out of cinnamon. Oh, and while you’re out, we need more Nyquil.”
The look in his eyes was like a lost sick puppy found on the side of the road. It became clear right away that my husband was going to do neither of those things. His intent? To lie on that couch and not move a muscle until every second of his week-long germ-fest was over.
This reminds me of my most recent major surgery. A couple years ago, I had endured five abdominal incisions and almost bled to death as the
surgery went on for more than three hours, much longer than the doctors had expected. After it was all over, I was in agony. This surgery completely wiped me out, even more so than my previous two c-sections. I spent two days in the hospital morphined up to the eyeballs. When I returned home, every step I took was excruciating. My husband was able to take one day off from work to help care for me. So I lay in bed, swimming in Vicodin, feverish and in severe pain. The next day (a mere three days after major surgery) I was alone and taking care of my two young kids. I faintly remember that at one point, I had to make them lunch, and almost passed out from the pain, right there on our kitchen floor. But I pressed on with gritted determination. As God is my witness, my kids would never be without their peanut butter and jelly.
I am a woman. I am a mom. This is just what we do.
But my husband has a cold.
I sat down on the couch and tried to discuss with him how much stronger women are than men. But if he could just somehow reach deep down and tap into some of that inner strength, he could overcome this cold, get up off the couch, and help me with the dishes. I’m not sure he was even listening, being consumed with his illness and all. His hacking and moaning just became more miserable.
“Buh men can ben presh more weigh,” he sniffled.
“Oh, really?” I playfully jabbed him on his arm.
“Ow! That hurt!” he cried.
So why do men crumble with the first sign of a cold virus?
What happens inside their brains to make them turn instantly into puddles of
It’s the one big mystery left in the universe.
But I have a theory:
The “Plop-Plop-Fizz-Fizz-Oh-My-God-My-Husband-Has-A-Cold-Someone-Just-Shoot-Me-Now” Theory
Consider the typical man: He is shopping at Wal-Mart, drooling over the automotive section, trying to decide between the Armor All deluxe or regular. He touches the shopping cart handle, touches his nose and instantly, the cold virus enters his nasal passages. This immediately triggers a mucus-producing response. Soon the man’s sinuses are completely filled with pus.
He goes home, feeling achy and feverish, and parks himself on the couch. He attempts to blow his nose. But it’s too late; the pus has already leaked and crossed over the brain’s delicate membrane into the main section of his brain: the He-Man-frontal lobe. This area is the main force behind a man’s “take-charge, I am Manly Man and a Warrior and I can bench press 350 pounds and I must prove my manhood by hunting and shooting defenseless animals” personality.
Next, the other two major areas of his brain begin to slowly shut down. First Food, then Sex. Yes, in that exact order. The thoughts about both are still there, but his ability to do anything about them is dulled. This leaves only one tiny part of his brain fully functioning*: The Little Boy-oblongata. This is where he’s reduced to nothing more than a crying, whining five year old boy who wants warm milk, a blankie and hugs from his
*Some medical journals have alluded to another as-yet-unnamed and unverified section of a man’s brain responsible for watching Pawn Stars marathons in his underwear. It is believed that this part of his brain also remains completely intact during a bout with the common cold.
I am so convinced of my theory, I’m thinking of having it submitted to the next New England Journal of Medicine. Plus I drew up a little diagram. My husband saw it and said, “I don’t get it.”
So ladies, am I wrong? If so, I have all the time in the world to come up with other theories.
My next one: Why men can’t cry in front of other men. Wish me luck.