Post Apocalyptic Reckoning or In the Wake of a Man Cold


Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

 “Nothing’s funny anymore, and everything tastes like cardboard,” said my husband Brian after a puff on his inhaler.

I was seated at my laptop in my “office” which occupies the room in our house that’s intended for a dining room — except our rental house is too small to accommodate both. We eat our meals on the couch.

I’d asked Brian to help me think of a funny story this week’s column. He was standing two feet behind me in our kitchen; incidentally, our kitchen is too small for our refrigerator.

It lives in the laundry room, which is a mere ten feet away from my office. Convenient maybe if I want a soda, but not so great when I’m preparing dinner.

One perk of living in a small house is that I can clean it quickly. The downside is that it’s impossible to escape my husband’s presence when he’s in the throes of a man cold.

Not that I feared catching the cold. Women don’t catch man colds and if we do, we barely notice that we’re sick.

Brian suffered terribly during the recent germ infestation. For example, he was too ill to remember that the dog isn’t allowed on the couch.

Was he to blame if she took devious advantage of his illness?

No, he wallowed he wasn’t to blame. He also wasn’t to blame for the dirty dishes he left in the sink. When you’re sick, he reasoned, you don’t have to do the dishes.

He struggled to rise when I told him there was laundry to put away.

“If you’re so sick you can’t stand up, maybe you should see a doctor,” I said dryly. I wasn’t buying the performance. I had good reason.

“Did napping with the dog exhaust you?” I asked sarcastically.

He flung a hand over his forehead. “I think I have a fever,” he muttered.

Though the malady that affected him caused him to suffer greatly, he dutifully hauled himself to work. It was a masterpiece of perseverance, a struggle born of pain and overcome through undiluted tenacity.

It was aggravating that he could miraculously work while so ill. And where did he find the energy to drive me crazy with his theatrical displays of illness?

I rolled my eyes so much I’m surprised I didn’t sprain them.

Finally, after much coercion, he went to the doctor and returned home with a cache of prescriptions.

“The doctor said I have strep throat,” he croaked.

Strep throat? Not a simple man cold?

Oh dear…

It started with a tickle in my throat, a stuffy nose, and the sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to get much sympathy from my maligned spouse.

He’s right. Nothing’s funny anymore, and everything tastes like cardboard.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at or contact her at