The Man is ill.
The Man thinks he is dying.
The Man is the funniest thing that I have ever seen.
Every time I look at him I fall about laughing. He is preposterously bad at being ill. (This photo was taken in happier times. And fyi he was wearing swimming shorts.) The Man’s man flu been going on for a week but here’s a taster, taken just from one day.
The Man wakes up. “Oh no,” he says in a small voice. “Oh no. I have to go to the doctor.” He looks helplessly at me, begging me to somehow take this fact away. I do not take the fact away. Instead I nod firmly and shove him out of bed. He stands looking even more feeble and then, after a couple of seconds, jumps back into bed and straps himself to my side. “Nooooo,” he moans. “Noooo, I don’t want to get out of bed.”
Half an hour later he comes back from the doctor; his face set in an expression of utter hopelessness.
“The doctor says I’m dying,” he reports sadly. “I probably only have about twelve hours. He says I have to have wild passionate sex with you before I pass away.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Shall I make you some breakfast?” I ask.
“No,” he says, back in Action Man mode. He has miraculously forgotten that he is dying. “I can make breakfast.”
I sigh. “Listen here, The Man,” I say to him. “You are ill. The doctor has told you to stay in bed. And so that’s what you have to do! All day!”
The Man looks absolutely appalled. “But…. I can’t! I can’t stay in bed all day!”
“You have to,” I tell him sternly. “Doctor’s orders. You start a big tough job next week, you have four days to recover. No caffeine, no alcohol, no rushing around – nothing that gives you adrenaline. You damn well need to listen to your body.”
The man starts whimpering. “I can’t…” he moans. “You don’t understand!”
Five minutes later he falls asleep and doesn’t wake up for three hours. Because he is all bunged up he is making the most extraordinary noises; it is like having a little slumbering piglet in the room.
When he wakes up, I am sitting next to him reading a book. “Arrrghhhh,” he sighs, rolling over and hugging me. “I’m dying. Love me.”
I oblige and give him a cuddle. He is ridiculous but adorable.
I get up to make some lunch but as I go a hand sticks out of the bed and grabs my boob.
“Get off, The Man!” I shout. “Bad!”
He sticks out his lower lip. “You don’t love me,” he mumbles in a six year old’s voice. And of course I cannot help but pee my pants laughing and give in and hug him again.
Eventually I extricate myself and go off to make lunch.
When I get back, he is on Google and his face is screwed up in that ‘I am trying to remember a word and I’ve nearly got it… but not quite’ sort of way. “Phary…Pharun…” he mutters. Then a lightbulb moment: “Pharyngitis! That’s what I’ve got! Let me look it up…”
He loads up a Bupa page entitled “Pharyngitis (Sore throat).”
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” he roars, outraged. “I have a terrible virus! It is much more than a sore throat! How dare they?”
I cannot answer because I am face down in a pillow trying not to laugh hysterically.
“The doctor told me it was about as bad as viruses can get,” The Man huffs. “I am seriously ill!”
I ignore him and get on with my lunch. During lunch he pleads with me to be allowed to clear out his study and turn it into a sitting room. I refuse and remind him that he is supposedly dying. He huffs and then falls asleep for another hour, hand cupped tragically over my right buttock. After all, he is dying. A man’s last wish and all that.
Later on, I emerge from a bath and find him skulking around the kitchen. I cannot adequately describe the hilarity of his appearance. He is wearing a massive puffa jacket that he got for his antarctic expedition last Christmas, with nothing on his bottom half so he is like a massive black egg on legs. His hair is now a triangular wedge from all the sleeping; he could not look more comical. Obviously, I start laughing again.
“What,” he says, hurt.
“You…” I whoop. “Look at you, your little legs poking out of that massive jacket… Oh The Man, I do love you.”
“Stop laughing at me,” he pouts.
I try to stop.
“What are you doing out of bed, The Man?”
He looks sheepish. “Want some chocolate.” And so he opens his binge cupboard, grabs a load of chocolate and gallops off to bed.
(A word on the binge cupboard. I am unable to eat sugar and so it’s a source of great relief to me that I live with a man who doesn’t keep sweet things in the house. It would be torture! However, a couple of weeks ago we had a stinking row and The Man went out and filled a cupboard with wine gums and crisps and other naughty things to comfort himself. That night when I got back I asked if he wanted to go out for dinner and he actually couldn’t because he’d eaten a packet of wine gums an hour beforehand and had a spasming stomach. It was without doubt the sweetest, saddest thing I had ever heard. At that moment the row was over.)
Later on in the evening The Man sheds the ginormous puffa in favour of thermal longjohns and a thermal top (from the same Antarctic expedition) and comes to the kitchen to find his computer. He looks like a six foot toddler in pyjamas and so it is now me who is having trouble not grabbing him.
“You are adorable,” I tell him, prompting a puffed-up chest and a retort that he is a big man really. I am forced to give him a sympathetic hug to make up for my insult. Then – and I am sorry for the repeated theme, I know you have heard this before – he lets off a loud trump. And off he runs down the corridor back to bed, coughing and giggling, with his little longjohn-clad bottom and triangular hair.
It’s funny, I’ve never wanted children. But I feel like I have somehow inherited one.
Readers – please share details of the Man Flu outbreaks to which you have borne witness. I suspect my story is not unusual.