Amusing myself the other day by setting fire to tissues off my feverish forehead, I thought about the wonderful system we guys use for gutting out the flu. We suffer heroically and stoically.
This may come as a shock, but there are some who disagree.
"Men are such babies," one woman friend said.
"Sick husbands can drive you crazy," claimed another.
"Most men whine when they're sick," a third sniffed.
A fourth just rolled her eyes. "There's such a thing as a good male patient?"
This sort of blatant stereotyping must stop. Stereotypes of big baby, whiny guys are based on completely inaccurate... Well, mostly incorrect... All right, mildly off-center...
Oh, OK, there's good reason that it's a stereotype. But stereotyping is wrong. And I'll tell you why: We whine for your benefit.
First, we guys exercise considerable consideration by making sure our significant other is within proper hearing distance before we wind up and let it roll. Sometimes we have to chase her quite a while to get her within range, a stunning testament to our ability of gutting it. This part we undertake heroically and stoically.
Once we have her cornered, we carefully describe our complete flu symptoms (''It hurts! Make it stop!'').
Typically, we do this about 3 million times in a row. Hey, this is the flu - or possibly a cold - and a guy just can't take the risk of leaving out any minute detail. This shows how kind we are to our significant ones. If we did not take such care, how would they be able to make a proper diagnosis? (Probably fatal.)
And yet, we're badmouthed for our heroic and stoic efforts.
Fine, let's discuss stereotypes. When women are sick, they make a point of dramatically doing dishes, laundry and vacuuming while a temperature of 103 rages.
Why? As near as we guys can figure, it's so that they can make the point that they washed dishes, folded laundry and cleaned the rugs while running a raging fever, so what's wrong with you, you big baby?
Nope, our ladies don't whine, but they sure don't intend for us to forget their great sacrifice. They prefer not to use words to say all this. They just rage about feverishly casting of heroic and stoic sighs.
''Because if we don't do the work, who else will?'' one woman huffed at me.
Dunno. Go to bed and find out. The big babies aren't nearly as helpless as their whining indicates. But we're not stupid enough to get in the way of a woman running through her heroic and stoic suffering routine.
So which of us is going about our suffering the right way?
Neither. It's the kids who have it right. They stay in bed with their teddy bears and comic books, watch cartoons, have adults running into the room with ginger ale and to feel their foreheads, and the moment they get to feeling better, they explode all over the house like a jack rabbit on espresso. And if none of that works, they call Grandma.
So tell you what, I'll stop helping you diagnose, you stop impressing me with your sacrifice, let's grab a jug of ginger ale and stack of comic books, and go back to bed and watch cartoons.
If that doesn't work, let's call a grandma. Maybe she'll bring chicken noodle soup.
---- Get sick with Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.