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Machos to Mush

I been seek

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: March 12, 2007


Machos to Mush


You know it is coming...you experience a weird kind of detachment almost everything crawls by in slow motion dream sequence, then the throat starts to itch, you shiver, feel feverish, a foreboding sense of dread, major headache, irritated, aches, pains, then wanting nothing better than hit the sack stay under the covers for a week. Even the hair hurts.

I felt the same way when I watched the Academy Awards, oh and by the way, caught the flu.

Something happens when you get sick, somehow you remember all the stuff you were thinking about the last time you got ill. Maybe the fever triggers the brain chemistry, getting cues as to how to get well, based on the last sick time experience. Well, at least that is what I thought last week, then two summers ago, then that weekend up in the snow after I slept in a camper and caught double pneumonia during the Clinton administration.

There is a tradition whereby macho men who get sick turn into instant babies. Several million times a day around the world in every language, grown men with the flu are telling their wives, who have given birth to children, they donÔÇÜt know how it feels to be really sick.

It could be that MamaÔÇÜs are to blame for the way grown men react to being ill. Boys are usually reluctant to cuddle, and the only time young boys acquiesce to affection is when they want Mama to make it all better, and they always do.

As men grow into young adulthood they expect Mamas, Sisters and Girlfriends to join into the nurturing pity party. Mama's and Girlfriends are happy to play nursemaid. Most Sisters who are maliciously ambivalent, say things like, "Whatever you do, you spineless wimp, don't think of mayonnaise."
"
There is a time when the decision has to be made if you are going to work. This is a complicated decision, which demands mental clarity which is difficult, after a fever wracked mind numbing medicated day of watching daytime TV. You have to look at your shot to the curb face in the mirror, and ask yourself some really tough questions; Will I still get paid, If not, can I afford to be sick without having to work overtime to catch up, only to get sicker next time? How much sick time do I have left, How much sick time have I used not being ill? Do I intend to party hard during the summer, What if my team makes it to the playoffs?

Career questions like, if I miss work, will the office rat try to steal my job or talk smack? Will my client get convicted, What if I don't make my quota? What if I use my illness not to make my quota because I'm not going to make it anyway?... When ill I tend to over think everything at first, then give up and think of nothing.

Once you decide to call in, you use your most ailing voice, and hope they buy it and not talk about you, the way you talk about them when they call in sick.

I've been less than one hundred percent all week, but hate to draw attention to myself by whining and sniveling about how miserable I am. We grew up in a family of chronic illness; somebody always had something or at least thought they did. Illness brought certain rote deference. One family member once hurt an arm and proceeded to limp around the house.

My wife will tell you I am Spock-like when it comes to reporting illness. I have this, these are my symptoms, this will be my cure, and nothing will stop me from making my appointed rounds, taking care of business. Do not feel sorry for me or even acknowledge my impaired condition.

"Ok honey, but why are you in your pajamas at 3 pm in the afternoon with your head wrapped in a towel, with my Bunny slippers on?"

When we first got married I got real sick, but couldn't afford to miss work. La Renia said, "Let me make you a Limonada. Not really believing in Central American folk cures, I quipped, "Why don't you tape a tomato to my chest?"

She brewed some hot water squeezed some fresh lemons, a little sugar, and gave it to me with two aspirin. The fever broke, the next morning I felt fine.

"The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom."

-H. L. Mencken


About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos now takes vitamins.




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