Here’s what happens when men get Man Flu. (Note: it’s pathetic.)
Recently I went on holiday with my girlfriend, Anna, to one of those countries where everyone tells you not to drink the water or eat the meat under any circumstances – but you only remember their advice after your big meal of mystery kebabs has been washed down with a glass of the local beige water. So the inevitable happened. The following is a diary I kept to show how the male brain works in times of ill health.
Day 1: Morning
Awoke to Anna complaining of a civil uprising in her intestines from last night’s kebabs. Fortunately, I feel 100% fine – probably thanks to a secret belief that guys are invincible – and assure Anna she’ll get over it by lunchtime. I explain that while it may be nice and safe in bed, we didn’t come this far to lounge around sleeping, and that some of the world’s best beaches are over the road – it’d be criminal not to frolic just because she foolishly ate parasites masquerading as food. She reminds me that I ate the same thing and asks why I’m not sick. I explain it’s quite possible that I’m invincible.
Day 1: Afternoon
Anna spends most of the day lying very still on the beach looking pale and refusing my gallant offer of a peppermint milkshake. I shake my head in disappointment and drink two of them. At dinner, she doesn’t eat but suggest I don’t have kebabs again. After a chuckle (the kind superheroes give before they throw bad guys into space), I ask whether I need to re-explain the fact that guys are invincible. I order two kebabs, giving her a wink to prove that illness can’t penetrate my immune system of steel.
Day 2: Morning
I’m dying. In fact, the pain is worse than how dying must feel. I try to explain the feeling to Anna, and she nods and says it’s exactly how she felt yesterday. She’s so wrong. This is a billion times worse; there’s a cartoon-like baboon in my stomach and he’s tearing it apart. She says she knows it’ll only last 24 hours, because she feels fine now. I tell her not to waste her false confidence on me. This isn’t what she had at all. It’s clearly a superbug, probably bird flu, maybe the Ebola virus. Either way, call the embassy and tell them to get a body bag ready. At the very least, let me die in peace or pass me a crayon so I can summon up the last of my strength to write my will on the bedside table. What I really need (what all guys need when we’re sick) is for her to dote on me.
I realise I may not actually be dying but continue to express this theme to her, hoping she’ll spring into action like the nurse in The English Patient. She doesn’t. She stares at me and says, ‘It may be nice and safe in bed but we didn’t come this far to lounge around sleeping. Some of the world’s best beaches are over the road – it’d be criminal not to frolic just because you foolishly ate parasites masquerading as food.’ Her words have an eerily familiar ring to them. She lets me fret about the possibility of having to die a public death on the beach with various fluids leaking from me, before telling me she’s joking. I’m suddenly aware that I feel something else churning in my stomach apart from poisoned meat dating back to 1973 – guilt.
Day 2: Afternoon
I spend most of the afternoon lying around and whining but Anna stays with me, stroking my hair. I realise not only do I really like it but I need her to keep doing it – it’s exactly what Mom used to do. Guys would never tell you this (let alone write it for the world to see), because, as I’ve said, we’re invincible. But once I’m confident my mouth is no longer being used as an escape route for semi-digested poison kebab, I do manage to open it and squeak out, ‘Sorry.’