In the dark hours of last night I suddenly woke up with the realisation that my lovely wife was not in bed beside me. The emptiness must have called out to my conscious mind… I sat up, listened and heard some grovelling from the bathroom. I called and she replied faintly. It wasn’t an ogre. (Note to Oscar Pistorius , this is how normal people do it, we call out, then wait for a reply. No guns required).
My wife was sick, and not the feminine flu kind of sickness, she had a full force puke-a-thon-thing going. Liquids were leaving her body from all known orifices and then some. There was no choice in the matter, she was competing in some twisted version of a relay; racing between the bathroom and our bed. All. Night. Long.
When I woke up I could feel the Sandman’s residue didn’t dissolve properly and I was left with scratchy, blotchy, red eyes. My wife didn’t look any better. She wasn’t just pale, she looked like a European after a very, very, very long winter. Her dull grey eyes were sunken deep in her skull and I feared the start of a Zombie Apocolypse. (No, I didn’t say anything, jeez relax.) She was really weak after all the fun she had the night before. Words were not necessary as it was obvious, she felt like shit. What caught me of guard was when she tried to drag herself out of bed and assume her normal daily routine of getting ready for work. It went something like this:
Shower, lie on bed, get shirt, lie on bed, wake the kids, lie on bed, put on shirt, get pants, lie on bed, comb hair, lie on bed. It just became painful to watch so I suggested something radical:
“Love, maybe you should stay home today. You look pretty weak, and it might not be the best option to face thirty grade 1’s.”
There was a moment. Wait for it… Wait for it… She agreed! It doesn’t happen often and it felt really good.
The only condition, I need to call in sick on her behalf. I didn’t mind and the headmaster, being a normal human being, sympathised and wished her well. It should come as no surprise that men can also be compassionate and understanding. My wife smiled a weak one, and flopped down on the bed. I made her some tea and then things really became interesting.
I still had to get the kids to school and with all the commotion we were running seriously late. What followed was a lot of shouting, chasing, threatening but eventually the kids were in the car, flustered but more importantly, alive.
I ran up the stairs, saw my fragile looking wife in bed and moved in for the kiss, then remembered the germs she was carrying, and turned my cheek. Cruel? Maybe, but there was no way I was going to hand over control of my bowel and stomach to the urges of poo and vomit. Before I left she said:
“I feel bad.”
“I know, my love. Take some medicine, and stay in bed. You need the rest, I think the worst is behind you. You will probably feel better soon.”
“No, not like that”, she moaned, “I feel bad because I am staying home. What about those poor little kids. They’ll miss me…”
WAIT. STOP. DID SHE ACTUALLY SAY THAT?
What is it with woman and their misplaced guilt about taking a sick day? Men don’t have it. When a man gets a sick day, its a wondrous moment filled with joy and celebration. And men don’t even need a terrible disease to take a day. As a matter of fact, God forbid it being a real serious ailment. A plain old stomach ache would suffice. Once the call is made, enhanced with some Oscar-worthy acting, and the boss wishes you well, there is NO better feeling on this earth than seeing your family leave the driveway, whilst you are standing in the front door with pajamas.
And then the most amazing thing happens, as soon as that car is out of sight, the healing power of having me-time floods your system.
You run back to the lounge, grab your slightly cold coffee from the counter and jump on the coach, satin-batman shorts and all. You pick up the remote with a twinkle in the eye, for it now belongs to you, a piece of equipment that opens the gates of cable for your own personal viewing pleasure. Any channel, any program, any sport, any advert, any movie. Just for you. The ultimate surfing experience. I get emotional just thinking about it.
When you get bored from doing nothing, after about three hours, you do it for another two. Then only do you persuade your mind to get your body into a shower. Afterwards you walk to the fridge and curse yourself for not replenishing the beer. You head back to the coach and play Angry birds compulsively for an hour until you fall asleep. Right there. On the coach. Like a slob. Dreamy…
Then you hear a faint noise, a car maybe? You jump up with a drool, three feet long dangling from your bottom lip, dump the empty packets and greet the family with a full-on disheveled look at the door. This will result in milking a wee bit more sympathy for the-poor-thing-did-you-sleep-all-day-conversation. And you just hug, look over her shoulder and wink at the kids.
So I ask this question with all sincerity, what part of my sick day does NOT sound like fun? Which part of it is so repulsive that it packs on the guilt in woman. Here are the facts of a sick day:
1. You are alone.
2. You have NO responsibility.
3. You are getting paid.
4. You can do whatever you want to and
5. If you want to, you can do absolutely NOTHING. The. Whole. Day.
The irony was that my wife was really sick, so why do woman even consider guilt as an emotion on such a day? I shook my head and told the wife I’ll see her later. On the way to school the only answer I could come up with for my puzzled mind was that men work harder and thus have a lot more stress to cope with. We need days off. For ourselves. To recover.
I might be wrong with my rational, and another reason might be that woman are more driven, trying to prove themselves in a chauvinistic corporate environment where they always end up being compared to their male counterparts, thus having a bigger drive to succeed, or rather to not disappoint…
Nah, it is because men work harder.