A Lighter View… The male conundrum

July 1, 1993

A Lighter View… The male conundrum

By Karen M. Morris, Humorist

How come Sylvester Stallone can do a one arm pull up with three broken ribs, a gunshot wound and a collapsed lung while the rest of the male population requires hospitalization for a paper cut?

Strange? Yes, but it’s a phenomenon that wives everywhere have experienced. Many of these women believe that a mysterious chromosome called “Y” is responsible for their husband’s behavior. They’re convinced that this crafty “Y” (pronounced why) alters the way males cope with sickness …real or imagined. This theory was confirmed when other women began telling me stories that, up until now, I thought were only legends…

Jeannie’s husband has contracted hundreds of illnesses just by hearing about them over the radio, and Heather’s was treated for listlessness when Michael Jordan left the Bulls. The guy down the street was put in a full body cast for a hangnail, and his wife had to feed him for a month. Lynne’s man went into anaphylactic shock after reading the warning label on the back of an aspirin bottle, and Shannon’s husband was rushed to the hospital and almost died from a computer virus.

Margo’s hubby developed allergies on the honeymoon. He’s allergic to shopping, household chores and gassing up the car. Nancy’s husband doesn’t handle pregnancies well. He doubles his weight, his legs swell like sausages, and he craves carbohydrates for nine months. And my darling husband is the only known human to catch the Swine Flu by walking past a pork chop display at the grocery store AND has been medically treated for belly button lint. Now, don’t get me wrong, my husband is an extremely intelligent and talented man. He can hang a picture while eating a sandwich, and when he gets lost in downtown Chicago, he doesn’t panic or cry. He knows which “car noises” are serious and which ones are your seatbelt dragging on the road. And, just like Sylvester Stallone, Wayne can do amazing things with only one arm…like: scratch himself, take off his socks, donate blood, eat popcorn, and point and wave at the same time. But the man’s not invincible.

Last week, Wayne came down with a cold. It all started when a guy at work sneezed three times for no apparent reason. Some believed this was a direct response to those little dust particles you see floating in the air when the sun shines through the window; others were plainly baffled by the nose rage. Now, this co-worker sits 10 cubicles away, and Wayne wasn’t even present during the alleged sneezing incident…but that didn’t matter. When Wayne heard about the supernatural sneezing, he was convinced that he’d been infected by a rogue bacillus.

Wayne came home and said he was going to be sick. That made two of us. He’d just gotten over a case of chapped lips, and I didn’t know if I had the strength to nurse him through another near-death experience. When Wayne is sick, he has to be watched around the clock…so he doesn’t accidentally take a laxative for congestion or squirt nose drops in his ears. He sleeps like a rock and snores like a freight train, but I have to be alert and ready in case he wakes up and wants to know how long he’s slept. He goes through Kleenex like bullets in a Tommy gun and once blew his nose so hard he claimed he had a stroke.

At suppertime, he shuffled to the dinner table in his pajamas. He said his neck felt swollen and insisted that his stretched out, “rag status,” V-neck undershirt was shutting off his airway. After every bite of meatloaf, he cleared his throat like a drum roll. And, if there was a lull in the conversation, he’d look around the room and ask if anybody else heard a buzzing sound in their ears. When he finished eating, he stood up and announced he was nauseous. This added a real highlight to the meal, while everyone sat silently staring at their food like it was death on a plate.

Wayne tried to get comfortable on the couch. He was cold, so I covered him up with a blanket. He immediately pulled it over his head and then complained he couldn’t breathe. He flailed his arms, tossed his head, twisted his body and, in an act of desperation, fell off the couch. It was obvious to everyone in the room…the man was too sick to be on the couch.

He rallied long enough to get up and drape his body over a chair. For a minute, I thought he was performing the Heimlich maneuver on himself. I wrapped an afghan around him, gave him a box of tissues, and then put a set of headphones over my ears. It was going to be a long night.

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