In Sickness and In Health

by Dave Bittle. 0 Comments

 The following public service announcement is being brought to you by the American Man-Flu Society.  

With cold and flu season upon us it’s a good time to remind everyone, but especially men, about the hazards and sufferings of Man-Flu , that insidious and frequently disparaged malady that each year emasculates and handicaps millions of otherwise vigorous and formidable full-grown men the world over.  Man flu, as its very name suggests, is a virus that attacks the immune systems of full-grown men only. Not to be confused with the flu, that which infects women and children, man-flu (quasi-scientifically termed influenza-y) is an aggressive contagion that makes the flu seem, relatively speaking, like child’s play.    

Wives, girlfriends, mothers and daughters gather around. Please, discontinue those incensed sneers, those arched eyebrows, those annoyed eye-rolls and looks of foregone conclusion when on that rare occasion your man tells you he has contracted a bad case of the man-flu. Your husband, boyfriend, or father is sick with a precocious strain of influenza for God’s sake, and he needs your love and kindness—plus a good measure of your tender sympathy—, not judgment and ridicule, during his hour of need, to nurse him through this vile illness, and to rescue him from deaths door. 

Don’t allow the skeptics, with their facts and statistics, to wheedle you into believing that man-flu, with its manifold banes, is anything less than the next world pandemic—we’re talking serious stuff here. Man-flu, the belligerent, drunken, bat wielding stepfather of the flu, is infinitely more dangerous, significantly more problematic, and lethal unto its self—a vastly mutated and wicked virus with many insidious properties. Yes, it is round, but it can also be elongated or irregularly shaped, yes, it has the same eight segments of single strand RNA just like the flu, and, as expected, it shares two different varieties of protein spikes, (HA) and (NA), just like its petite stepchild , the flu. 

But, unlike the bush-league influenza–a and-b strains, man-flu, with its hyper-cyclical antigenic shifting, presents a cornucopia of exotic and cruel post-secondary symptoms including: near complete incapacitation, men can scarcely walk or even change the channel—here is where the woman of the house will need to set aside her own needs, this one time, and provide assistance, support, and love. 

Likewise, man-flu causes acute moaning and groaning in its sufferers.  For example, sniveling weeps such as, “OMG, I'm gonna diiiiiiieeeee!” or “God have mercy on me!”  Here, too, as his wife or girlfriend, this is your opportunity to rally round your man, to nudge him, as best you can, towards a positive outcome. Rub his back or his feet, get him what he asks for, and offer up various maxims designed to ease his pain like, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!”—Charlie Chaplin.  

Other symptoms of man-flu include: foul moods (patients is a virtue), vastly diminished coping skills (have a heart), soggy pleas to send for his mother (pay no attention this, he knows not what he says), priests (use your best judgment), requests for bourbon (get the man a drink already, it could be his last), incoherent lamentations concerning the black plague, bubonic plague or tuberculosis (he should be so lucky), and finally, hallucinations (“Is that you Grandma?”).  Ugh, misery and more misery.

In contrast, when women are off-color with the flu, it’s only the flu, not man-flu, and so they remain, lucky for them, quite capable of driving, cooking, cleaning house, doing laundry, taking care of the kidos, packing lunches and virtually all the other day-to-day responsibilities including most, if not all, of her man’s chores too. The flu, that inconsequential influenza-a-or-b virus, is the viral equivalent of a bee sting; one that men laugh in the face of, and should be so fortunate to be septic with.

So men, whatever you do, don’t let your wife or girlfriend tell you they have “man-flu”, they don’t, they can’t, as that would be impossible unless they acknowledge having a twenty-third chromosome that looks more like this (Y) then this (X), which would fundamentally disqualify them as wives or girlfriends anyway—but that’s public service announcement for another day. 

And so remember, while man flu may be the price we men pay for living in a civilized society, what with all those hand-shakes, high-fives, fist-bumps, and various other microbe-exchanging salutations, it needn’t be our undoing. Wash frequently men, use hand sanitizers, and when the dreaded man-flu does plague you, let your devoted and obedient wife nurse you back to health—because no self-respecting woman want’s her man to suffer alone silently, stoically, and without hope.  

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