December 30, 2012

What to Expect When Men Get Sick

            It’s often been said that men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Trust me, when a man gets sick, it’s either too quiet or not quiet enough.  You ladies know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had to deal with a man who is ill.
There are two distinct types of men in these circumstances, and each is extreme.  Men do not do things halfway.
The first type is the Stoic.  He’s a macho guy, and will neither desire nor require attention of any kind.  You will not even know he was sick until you find him dead.  He will refer to a mangled appendage as a “cut” and will ignore pain; or, at least, will never admit to it.  Our Stoic will not think twice about going to work with something contagious – like leprosy – and will continue to work while body parts drop off.  He’ll fix the car while he’s bleeding to death from a drive-by bullet wound.  He’ll play poker with his buddies the day after quadruple bypass surgery.  He will not stop.  He’s the Energizer Bunny of humanity.  He is the real reason for nailing coffins shut.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Whiner.
To the Whiner, every sneeze is pneumonia, every headache a brain tumor.  An upset stomach is always good for a white-knuckled trip to the emergency room and a speeding ticket to add to the collection.  If you’re not sure of your guy is a Whiner, there’s an easy way to find out.  Just walk into any emergency room in the state in which you live.  If you are greeted by name by any member of the staff, then, honey, you’ve definitely got yourself a Whiner.
OK, so he’s wheeled into the emergency room, is examined by an exasperated doctor (who has real emergencies to attend to), and is told, for the umpteenth time, to go home and stay in bed for a day.
You must have done something to offend this doctor for him to wish this on you.  Maybe he’s getting you back for that emergency appendectomy you had to have last year that interrupted the only golf game he was winning . . . in his life . . .that he had big money riding on.
“Your wife will give you all the TLC you need.”  He looks at you and smiles evilly.  Oh, yeah.  Had to be that appendectomy.
After arriving at Home Sweet, he climbs into bed under at least 10 layers of electric blankets, with a thermometer jammed in his mouth.  By the end of the day, you’ll want to jam it someplace else, on the pretext of getting a more accurate reading.
Just to cheer himself up, he’s watching a video of “Camille,” and looking as miserable as Dennis Miller in a deaf mute ward.  And in case he’s not in stitches by the end of “Camille,” he has videos of “Last Holiday” and “Philadelphia” as backup, as well as a copy of Death, Be Not Proud on his nightstand.
When you ask him if he needs anything, he’ll respond, “Yes.  A gun with one bullet.”
“But you only have a headache.”
Don’t ever say, “only.”
In response, you will get a diatribe regarding your lack of sympathy and a litany of descriptive phrases detailing the massive pain he is currently suffering, and the fact that this headache isn’t a “normal” headache, but feels like it could be brain cancer, winding up with “I only wanted the gun to shoot myself in the arm to distract me from the pain in my legs.  I think I may have an embolism, or something.”
And never smoke around this person, unless you care to spend the next few hours listening to a graphically described harangue on the effects of secondhand smoke.  This one will develop a smoker’s hack at the mere sight of a cigarette, lit or not.
He has pills to counteract the deadly interactions of his other pills.  He owns a hospital bed, a cardiac monitor, and a blood pressure cuff.  His food must be overcooked and unpalatable, and the only dessert he’ll eat is Jell-O.  He must be kept from watching all television medical dramas because, immediately following such entertainment, he will develop all the symptoms of the plot disease.  The fact that it’s a type of flesh-eating malady found only in a small town in Liechtenstein, and he’s never traveled outside his town in the U.S. will not deter him.  He will declare that the germs were brought in on the clothing of some careless traveler with a death wish.
He takes so many vitamins that Centrum had to hire a second shift.  He gets personal Christmas cards from the presidents of Upjohn, Eli Lily, and Merck.  He gets a fruit basket from his local drug store every year on his birthday.  His doctor sends him tapes of Marcus Welby reruns just before his daughter’s tuition payment is due.
In short, either way, Stoic or Whiner, men are men. 
And really…would we have it any other way?

December 14, 2012


Have you ever noticed how some people are “hat people” and others aren’t?

I fall into the latter category.  Hats look terrible on me; while a friend of mine, who dragged me along hat shopping last week, could put a burlap bag on her head and look like Cindy Crawford.  I could do the same thing and look like Broderick Crawford.  People could give me spare change, for heaven’s sake!

So, off we trundled to “Hats, Hats, Hats.” 

The first one she picked up was a top hat, reminiscent of Fred Astaire and long, elegant staircases.  She looked magnificent in it.  She put it on my head, and I resembled a deranged version of Abraham Lincoln. 

Next, a cloche.  This is a French-style hat, made of felt, rounded on the top with a soft brim that rolls upward.  She looked like a high-fashion Parisian.  I looked like a toad peeking out from under a rock. 

But I humored her.  That’s the kind of person I am. 

She tried on a velvet baseball cap and looked wonderful.  I looked like Daffy Duck’s wife. 

“Please,” I begged, “buy one and let’s go.” 

“Oh, but there are so many to choose from!” she burbled.  “Let’s try a few more.” 

I was being punished for something, I just knew it. 

She tried on a white felt hat with a veil.  Men would have dropped dead if they ever saw her in it.  She put it on me and…voila!  A beekeeper!

Next, a cowboy hat.  She:  Dale Evans.  Me:  Trigger. 

She finally settled on a gray wool Kangol wedge cap.  It really looked cute on her, and I could easily envision her wearing it behind the wheel of a vintage sports car. When I tried it on, I looked like Ed Norton sporting a manhole cover.  But I didn’t care at that point.  It was over.  She had the hat wrapped up and we left for lunch, which turned out to be delicious. 

While drinking our coffees, she picked up her package and held it out. 

“Merry Christmas,” she said. 

I wonder if there are any job openings in the Department of Sanitation.