Women sometimes feel that we are the disadvantaged ones ... we tend to earn less than men ... we carry a disproportionate amount of carer responsibilities ... we are more likely to be the victims of domestic violence. But all that pales to insignificance in the face of The Dreaded ManFlu.
I have never understood the suffering that men have to endure once they fall victim to ManFlu. My husband suffered from it from time to time, as even the strongest men will do, and I showed a remarkable lack of sympathy.
During one particularly trying bout of ManFlu, I suggested that my husband would be better off in hospital. He told me that Royal North Shore Hospital simply wasn't equipped to deal with such a debilitating and virulent strain of ManFlu. It would be safer for the staff, patients and, indeed, the general public if he stayed at home in bed. In hindsight, given recent headlines featuring RNSH in a very uncomplimentary light, I have to admit that he probably wasn't too far wrong.
Another time, after a rather prolonged bout of whinging and wimpering requests for succor, I simply lost the plot and handed him his AMEX card and the phone, saying "QANTAS flights land and take off every day. Call your mother and get her out here!"
"But, Mag," he barely had the strength to whisper, "I need your love and tender care to get me through this."
To which, I replied, as kindly as I could manage while looking him straight in the eye, "Honey, you are gonna die."
You won't be too surprised when I tell you that that marriage ended in divorce.
But the intense suffering of the victims of ManFlu was again brought to my attention recently when some of the guys at work came down with it. One by one, they fell victim to more pain and suffering than any individual outside of Guantanamo Bay or a Super Tuesday state should be forced to endure.
The fact that I've been sick with flu for two weeks and missed a couple of days of work seems to count for very little. I was informed by a particularly acute sufferer of ManFlu that ManFlu germs (or virus ... the victims barely have the strength to debate that one) are so highly evolved that they won't even try to infect a Mere Woman. It would surely kill her instantly and, if women started dying at the obviously high rates that would result from ManFlu infection, that could put the entire species at risk, including future generations of men. And where would that leave the ManFlu?
Clever bastards, these ManFlu germs.
I confess that I have been enjoying their suffering more than I should. Particularly the special kind of Male Measuring Ritual that accompanies ManFlu: the comparison of symptoms to see who is sicker or suffering more or closer to imminent and painful death. The first liar doesn't stand a chance. There is barely a dry eye in the house ... from anyone listening to them carry on.
But, from what I gather, the ManFlu germs mutate almost constantly, pushing their victims to new heights of misery and suffering. And the only way to ensure that they can survive is for we Mere Women to show them the sympathy and the compassion that they so richly deserve.
Gentlemen, you are gonna die.
Update 14 August 2008: It has been pointed out that I have been remiss in giving credit where credit is due. I would like to thank Rob Creek for inspiring this post. Without his pain and suffering, the world would have been a much duller place.
You will be relieved to know that he has not only made a miraculous recovery from The Dreaded Man Flu, but completed the City to Surf with a very respectable time and will be running in the top group in next year's race.