If only women could understand the real suffering that comes along with man flu
I'm away for good to the beach club. Got a job there, cleaning out toilets and harvesting cigarette butts and chewing gum from urinals. If I do well, management said I might even get my own Toilet Duck or maybe even graduate to a pot boy, after a couple of years of ducking and diving. And then, if that all goes according to plan, I might make barman.
I'd say, though, it's very hard being a barman in hot places, what with all those cocktails with suggestive names. I could teach the cocktail makers how to do a beer shandy. But that's about it.
The weather outside my sick bed is wet and windy. The sky is a pale shade of San Quentin grey.
The wind never stops. The wet marinades my bones.
But the real reason I'm leaving is because I have the flu. Some women are killing men by not believing them.
It's because women are better at putting up with pain and it's also because they are conditioned to so do, because women are told that having babies is very painful and so are trained into putting up with pain from an early age, because that's just the way it is.
A good few women think men are too soft. The men friends only ever offer sympathy if you have a hangover. The women are the caring sex, but some don't care if we have the flu.
Two weeks ago, we wrote a quote from a fellow sufferer: "But never tell her you're sick."
"Die first," he said.
Women do believe men are useless at putting up with sickness. So the trick is to say nothing about the symptoms and let the symptoms do the talking for you.
Sneeze and sniffle and maybe faint. The women are basically compassionate creatures and she will mind you and nurse you, provided that it is she who makes the diagnosis."
They'll probably dock me in pay for using the same bit twice, but do I care?
That proves I'm genuinely sick. Then, when you keep hearing men are malingering whingers, you doubt your own diagnosis, even if you go to the doctor and the doctor says your temperature is so high that technically you should be dead.
So what did my friend's wife say to him when he told her the doctor had said he had a fever hotter than hell on the day the turf was brought home from the bog? She said: "How much did that cost?"
Sometimes, said another brother in arms, you'd nearly like to die just to vex them. "It would be the only argument a man could ever win over the existence of the flu, even if it was a pyrrhic victory."
We have this theory that generations of women were and are the victims of oppression and that somehow forms their response to men's ailments.
The older lady told me she had a hard old life. Six kids and a lazy husband who drank too much.
The only time he ever involved himself in a joint venture was in the bedroom.
She asks him to go out for a bucket of coal so she could stoke up the old range to provide hot water for the Saturday night kids' bath.
He says he hasn't time as he's due for a pool tournament in the local in about ten minutes.
She loses it and says "Please get the coal. I'm six months gone."
"Ah", says her husband, "sure you won't find the other three going."
One of my sneezes has just drenched a roll of toilet paper. This is proof, so I take a picture of the soggy roll.
Under my nose is all red. The toilet paper was part of a cheap lot withdrawn from use and bought in the worst of the recession. It's the hard kind you get in trains.
I'm getting awful dreams. The worst one was when the undertaker said: "Don't go near that lad, he's after dying of a flu."
That lad being me. It was a great relief to wake up in a bed and not a coffin.
I don't know how I'm managing to write this, what with the fever and the sweats.
What's killing me is when I complained about having to write two columns through an illness that would do for your average man, a woman of my acquaintance mails the heroic story that appeared this week in the papers.
Tommitrise Collins did her psychology exam at Middle Georgia State University when she was in labour and the contractions were three minutes apart.
"It took me four to five hours after the opening of the test to try to put the pain to the side and do the exam," said Tommitrise.
Some woman isn't she ?
Must be related to Michael Collins.
But I'm no Tommitrise. I'm just a man. Sounds like the first line of a sickly country song.
It could be that the best solution is for men to have babies to prep us for the flu. Which will never happen. Although you'd never know.
I had this friend many years ago and she was a grand girl. A couple of summers back, she comes in to the bar and I don't recognise her.
And it wasn't just because it was a long time since we last met.
She tells me she's a man now.