Anatomy Of A Cold

Apr 22


When A Man Gets A Cold . . .

My husband is always shocked (shocked!) when he gets a cold. This happens a few times a year, and the scenario always plays out exactly the same.

He comes home looking like hell and announces that he has a cold. Really? I thought the red eyes, the sneezing and the hacking were an allergic reaction. To what? My advice not to go out into the cold without a hat and gloves? Or even a scarf for fashion’s sake? Or to not work like a madman every day in that dusty warehouse of his renovating a space for a new tenant?

Whatever. He is totally nonplussed, every single time, as to why this has happened to him.

I have explained, god knows I’ve explained, how easy it is to catch colds, especially when your defenses are down, but he just looks sad and bewildered when I say this. This would be kind of touching, except that he—like every man I’ve ever had the fortune, good or bad, to know—is a miserable, rotten, impossible “patient.” Patient they are not. Sensible they are not. Realistic they are not.

What, I want to know the following morning, should I do about the tickets we have to a Broadway show that night (last time it was an opera). Meaning: Should I give them both away, or can you survive without me for a few hours. His response is always the same, that he should be just fine by the evening. Riiiight.

Of course I don’t believe him and call a friend, with the caveat that one ticket is his for sure, but it might be two. I have to feel confident that The Hacking One will be well enough to be on his own. I hope so. I’d really love to get away from the noise (besides the cough, he has the loudest sneeze on the planet), not to mention the increasingly poignant musings as to how he got this thing in the first place: my eyes are exhausted from rolling, my tongue bloody from biting.

Meanwhile. . .

Call The Doctor!

He asks me to get cough syrup, the one that works for him which contains codeine. For which you need a prescription. But it’s Saturday. The doctor isn’t in. The cold appeared on Friday. Coulda called then. Unless you’re in denial. Unless you can’t believe you’re getting this cold, because how could you possibly have gotten this cold?

Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Oh, well. We luck out. Our family doctor, the last of his kind in Manhattan and possibly the universe (except for the fictional Doc Martin so that doesn’t count), is a GP who answers his phone on the weekend, although not even he makes house calls like the physician in the cartoon. 

As the day wears on, and the stomach turns, I see that He Who Cannot Be Sick But Is can indeed live without me for a few hours, so I alert my friend about the play, and go forth to kill a chicken and harvest some carrots, celery and onions for chicken soup. Okay, so I bought all this stuff at Morton Williams, but hey, I didn’t open a can of Campbells. So give me a break.

Soup made and slurped, table cleared and dishes done, pitcher of water and box of tissues on his night stand, I air kiss The Hackster goodbye (even though I seem to have an immunity to all these colds, we’re not taking any chances) and head off into the night for a show and a (much needed) drink. The play was Peter And the Starcatcher, which my friend loved and I liked well enough. It was suitably silly, with lines like:
“Ruffian? Who’s a ruffian? I’ve never been to Ruffia in my life!” 
And the clever response to the ubiquitous phrase, “I’m trying to get into shape,” that “Round IS a shape.”

I think about calling home during intermission or between sips of scotch on the rocks at the  saloon we stumble upon a block from the theatre, but I’ve learned not to call at times like this because whenever I do, I wake him up. So I check my cell phone for missed messages and, as usual, there are none. By this time, my darling boy has gotten into the swing of having a you-should-pardon-the-expression cold, and is in bed drinking lots of water, watching many episodes of Law & Order. When I get home, I tell him about my adventures, he goes back to sleep immediately, and I, relishing the memories of the evening and the fact that he’s not coughing or sneezing (luckily, he rarely snores), read my book deep into the night.

The next day we have more chicken soup, he finishes the cough syrup, and we watch all the Sunday news shows. It’s a nice Spring day but nobody goes out, except me to the laundry room, where I wash the Not Your Daugthers Jeans to find out whether they really don’t shrink so I know what size to buy the next time, and chat with neighbors I only seem to see over folded tee-shirts and underwear.

At night, I ask Mr. I Guess I Have A Cold After All if he’s going back to the renovation work on Monday, and of course he is. This means the cold will last a while. A week. Two weeks. More?

Law & Order: CVU

That’s: Cold Victims Unit

Not to worry. We have more soup, lots of Law & Orders, and the prescription for cough syrup is renewable. (That doctor is no fool.) Besides, I’m prepared because I’ve played this scene before. Or, as Dr. Phil would say, “This ain’t my first rodeo.”

Hmmm. Wonder what Dr. Phil is like when he’s under the weather. Does even he go into denial? Does he go back to work too soon? Does he act like a typical man with a cold, totally put out that this should happen to him, requiring round-the-clock nursing? Tell you what, don’t ask him: get his wife to remove her earplugs and then ask her. 

Then suggest that she try to get as much rest as she can. . .

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