Man Flu: Why Is It So Fundamentally Annoying?
Why do men appear to be soooo much sicker than us and why is it so fundamentally annoying? These are two questions I will pretend to address while ridiculing the “stronger” sex for the purpose of this article. I am sure some of you menfolk are fabulously resilient. My intention is only to insult the men in my life, so please don’t take offence, or worse take to your bed with a little bell.
When I was a kid and my Dad would sniff loudly, exclaiming he felt “the flu” (never a simple cold) coming on, my Mam would do her patented tut/eye roll and exclaim loudly “here we go”. I would think (never, ever aloud, unless I wanted close contact with the wooden spoon) what a heartless bitch. I’d pander to my lovely Daddy and get him lemsips and put some footbally stuff on the telly and ask what I thought to be interested questions about the player’s jerseys etc.
He’d cough dramatically and tell me I was very good and I would feel deserving of sainthood or at least a few bob. As I got older and more aware of his penchant for exaggeration, in particular with regards to minor ailments I found it endearing. He has a great talent for sickness oneupmanship… You’ve to have a tooth out? I had 10 out in one sitting, in my senses; You’ve a period backache? I’ve got a pinched nerve (that one turned out to be true unfortunately). When I was in labour on my first baby and pacing the house, putting off the hospital, he complained of tummy pain to which my Mam laughed a little too loudly and proclaimed, I’ve heard it all now.
Pre-kids, I almost enjoyed my husband’s bouts with flu as I got to practice my maternal instincts and I admit to spoiling him with pharmacy runs and cooling sponges, worrying over his temperature as he lay on fluffed pillows revelling in it all. These days my nursing skills are tested daily with 3 kids in playschool/regular school traipsing all manner of germs into my house. This week kicked off with my husband exclaiming “my eyes are burning and my throat hurts"; I directed him towards the medicine cabinet but he seemed to have contracted amnesia also and needed me to fetch the cold and flu medicine. “I can’t believe I’m getting the flu” he said in a thick, anguished voice.
This needed to be nipped in the bud so I told him flatly he’d had the jab and it was probably just a cold but no, off he toddled to bed mumbling about how maybe a lemsip would fix him if only he had the strength to make it. I begrudgingly brought it up and suggested that playing games on his phone would not help his eyes. I’m now on day 5 of his “flu” and honestly Christian Bale could not have done a better job of the theatrics. Even the kids are rolling their eyes and tutting; frankly it’s embarrassing… in the midst of a coughing fit he exclaimed “why is this happening to me?” I complained to a friend about his exaggerated sniffing and armageddon attitude and she told me that her husband had contracted a vomiting bug the week before and had thrown up with a volume and violence that was completely uncalled for and that she and the kids, who’d had it the week previously had had the self-respect to purge discreetly with minimal sobbing.
Is it because we have felt white-hot pain in the labour ward that we have no tolerance for these man-babies or is it that our well of sickness-sympathy has been drank dry by our progeny? There is nothing I’d like more than to feign/ exaggerate an illness and take to my bed awaiting chicken soup and drugs but it is a luxury not afforded to me. The kids would hunt me down and use my (fake) aching body as a trampoline and the thoughts of the downstairs bedlam would afford me no rest. I could die of dehydration before any sustenance was brought to me and even if it was it would be made wrong (I once asked for toast and was brought a tray with 2 slices of warm bread, a tub of butter and no knife).
I will try to instill a robust nature in my boys by ignoring their cries of misery and making them administer their own Calpol... Who am I kidding? I'm creating a new breed of pampered pups who when sick lie ensconced on a quilted couch, shouting for 7up and the remote. Apologies to future partners but I can compensate by teaching them how to make decent toast.