Sometimes you just have to write…
“Man Flu” describes a state presumably peculiar to men in which, when they have nothing more than a cold or mild flu, they are firmly convinced they’re dying. (Click here for the very amusing Urban Dictionary definitions.) They spend what they insist are their last days on earth demanding attention – cups of tea with honey, bowls of chicken soup, general fussing and fetching and mothering – from their spouse or other loved ones. And they wallow in self-pity.
My husband does NOT get Man Flu. He gets Leave-me-alone Flu. My instinct, if he is sick, is to shift into mothering mode: bring him lots of hot tea to drink, go to the shop for cough drops, take his temperature regularly, and so on.
He hates that. All he wants to do when he gets a cold or flu is to be left alone. When he feels better, he goes about his business as if nothing has happened. No complaining, no asking for help, nothing.
That’s great, of course. It’s much easier for me, and it makes it really clear when he’s got something more serious than a cold or flu. If he asks for help, he’s really sick.
If you read my blog last week about whether to call in sick, you’ll know that I had a virus of some sort that settled mostly in my throat. I’ve been fighting it all week. I stayed horizontal on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but then went back to work from Tuesday on. I tried all week to take it easy whenever I wasn’t teaching, so I got none of the grading or test-writing done that I needed to do.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself: I get Man Flu.
This past week, I wanted to be mothered. I wanted cups of hot tea brought to me, and chicken soup. I wanted someone to listen to my list of complaints with a sympathetic look on his/her face.
My husband didn’t do any of this for me. Since he wants to be left alone when he’s sick, he assumes that’s what anyone would want.
I have to tell him what I want him to do for me, which kind of spoils the enjoyment of Man Flu, doesn’t it? I can ask him to go get a cup of tea for me, and he’ll do it, sweetheart that he is, but it doesn’t come naturally. He’ll get a cup of tea, then go back to leaving me alone.
Last week I said that there are two types of sick people: Type 1 people easily call in sick; Type 2 people fight it and go to work even when they’re sick.
I’ve realized that that there are two other categories of sick people: Type M gets Man Flu while Type L gets Leave-me-alone Flu. So I’m a 2M. My husband is a 2L.
Which type are you? And do you have a suggestion for what Man Flu ought to be called, since women can suffer from it too?