It’s bad enough that my wife likes to mow the lawn. No, honestly she does! Sometimes when she’s mowing, I want to shout across at the neighbours and say, “I’d be happy to mow the lawn, truly I would, but she really, really likes to do it, and I’d also like to point out that this makes me neither lazy nor unmasculine.” I especially want to shout this if I happen to be hanging out the laundry at the time.
Sometimes I’ll say, “I think I’ll mow the lawn,” and Deb will say, “No, I’ve got it.” What am I going to do? Forbid her? Hell, no, that’s not how we roll. Wouldn’t work anyway… Plus, it turns out I am a bit lazy after all, though again: not unmasculine.
Or maybe people think I make her mow the lawn. No, no, not at all. She wants to. Some women go to the gym. My wife mows.
Either way, it probably reflects poorly on me as a man. So imagine what people must have thought when they saw Deb last week not only pushing a lawnmower across our yard but doing so with a bum leg. Limpmowing, if you will.
“You don’t understand,” I want to tell the neighbours. “It’s not me. It’s her. She’s a terrible patient.”
Let me explain:
Two Saturdays ago, Deb tore a muscle in her calf playing softball. It was bad enough that we ventured a trip to the emergency room. This is worth noting because Deb feels about seeing the doctor the way most people feel about removing an unfortunate tattoo: a procedure to endure only when you absolutely can’t stand it anymore.
The doctor on duty felt up my wife’s leg, and I experienced pangs of jealous possessiveness that were somewhat reassuring after 25 years of marriage. Then he said a lot of things in French that I interpreted as, “Ice it; rest it; wait four to six weeks for delivery.” I might be wrong on that last part; his French was super fast.
Back at home, we got the ice part down, and we even found a cane, which, I have to say, as a look, Deb totally pulls off! But the “rest” part has been a bust.
“What are you doing? Sit. I’ll do it. Get down from there. Stop that. Don’t lift that. That’s too much weight on your leg. Let me. Why are you doing that? Where are you going?”
“I’m going to walk the dog. I need it. I can’t just do nothing.”
“It’s too much.”
“I’m stretching it.”
“You’re going to make it worse.”
“Would you rather I whine about it?”
Well, now that you mention it, yes. And I’ll tell you why:
I’m starting to get a cold.
I feel yucky.
But if Deb is going on 5K limps – stoic and undaunted – how am I supposed to wallow motionless with my sniffles?
There’s no way I can properly slump on a sofa and pathetically call out for the tissues, please, the extra-soft ones with the lotion, when Deb is carting loads of laundry up and down the basement stairs, grimacing through her pain like a domestic Clint Eastwood.
How can I take a day off work because I feel blechy when Deb is driving the half hour to work, pressing the gas and brake with a gimp leg whose pain is bearable only if she walks on her tippy-toes?
How can I love my misery if my misery has no company?
Being downright pathetic is the sole perk of being sick. You get to do nothing and essentially let your muscles atrophy for a few days because, gosh, you have no energy, except to work this remote here and maybe stream every music video made between 1982 and 1989 (The Golden Age). People feel sorry for you, and in a good way for once. If you’re lucky, you get a little bell you can ring for more chicken soup. (Thake you, I’b beeling buch better.)
But there’s no way I can even groan dramatically as I choke Advil down my mildly scratchy throat when Deb is hobbling stoically from the store with bag-loads of groceries.
After all, what would the neighbours think?