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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Head Colds and Other Pastimes

FIG 1
As I write this, I am in the grip of a virus or microbe or some other tiny being.  Were a doctor to enter the house, he would diagnose me in a jiffy; I have all the symptoms of the classic common cold:

1. Itchy, watery eyes
2. Cough
3. Waste-basket full of used tissues
4. Horror movie on Netflix
5. Patient and long-suffering wife who's beginning to wonder just how much more patient she can be or longer she will have to suffer

The trick to managing an illness in front of your wife is you have to be brave about it, but not too brave.  If you act like a cold isn't a big deal and are too convincing about it, she's apt to write out a Honey-Do list, and the next thing you know, you're repairing shingles on the roof.  On the other hand, if you make too be a deal of it, she's likely to tell you to stop being such a big baby about it and remind you of the time she had bronchitis and still managed to re-Spackle the bathroom ceiling.

Playing the invalid is especially tricky around in Martin because Nancy has always been pretty much tough as nails when it comes to her own physical ailments.  In fact, I've seen Nancy give a barrel of two-penny nails in the hardware store a contemptuous glance, like, "Nails.  Huh.  What a bunch of wusses."  

FIG 2
A brief true narrative to illustrate my point.  One evening, while Nancy was cooking dinner, she called me into the kitchen with a dulcet, "Honey, could you come in here?"  I found Nancy holding aloft a red rag, just about ear-level.  Looking more closely, I saw it was not a red rag but a white one stained red with my sweetheart's own blood.  Evidently her hand had slipped while using a knife to break the little metal cap-seal on a bottle of olive oil.  (Bear in mind, the point of this story is to point out Nancy's toughness, not her commonsense.)  We rinsed out the wound and determined that, yes, it was definitely going to need stitches, and I got the car keys to take her to the emergency room.

It was at this juncture, Nancy said - and I am not making this up - "But darling, I just fried the fish, and it won't be good cold."

So before I drove her to the emergency room, we ate the fish, Nancy standing like the Statue of Liberty, except with a blood-stained rag instead of a torch.

This is the sort of stunt that makes it difficult later on for someone to take full advantage of ill health and squeeze every drop of compassion, indulgence, and personal service that a head cold deserves.  And yet I soldier on.

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