“You have the pulse of a runner and the heart of a lion,” my doctor enthusiastically reported, following a recent physical. To which my wife quickly added, ”And the pain threshold of a five-year-old girl.”

What is it that makes women think they are so much tougher than men?

Sure, women are capable of squeezing seven-to-ten pounds of humanity out of their bodies on occasion, but that’s hardly an everyday occurrence.

It’s not bad enough that my wife thinks I translate every ache and pain into high drama, but she and her friends love to compare notes about what weenies their husbands can be, thus baring my idiosyncratic behavior (over-stated in my wife’s telling for maximum comedic effect) for others to comment on. And the Snarky Comment Award definitely goes to my self-described “long-lost baby sister.”

Several years ago, I contracted Lyme disease, hardly a phantom malady, albeit often hard to identify. Not knowing what the problem was, only that I had flu-like symptoms, the worst headache of my life, and generally felt like I was dying, I went to see my doctor. My wife tagged along, ostensibly to support my wellbeing but surreptitiously expecting the doctor to invoke a “stop whining, you just have a cold” diagnosis. Appropriately contrite and sympathetic once Lyme was pronounced, she and my would-be baby sister were subsequently discussing the rather debilitating symptoms that Lyme had engendered.

“I actually told the doctor,” my wife said to her, “if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought I was poisoning him.”

To which our friend (who’s known me for thirty years and cannot resist a good straight line) responded, “I say up the dosage, you’ve suffered enough.” (Badaboom.)

These women have the hearts of Dobermans.

Then there was the time I almost choked to death at the kitchen table because of some weird constriction of my esophagus that occasionally occurs when I eat red meat. (Can’t explain it any better than that because no one’s ever really been able to explain it to me.) Anyway, after a particularly traumatic episode that literally had me writhing on the kitchen floor, desperate for air, like the cop in “No Country For Old Men” who was choked to death by that nut case hit man with the pageboy hairstyle, Anton Chigurh (played to Academy Award-winning perfection by Javier Bardem), my doctor ordered a full spectrum of Upper GI tests for me.  When my wife delivered that news to my would-be sibling, her response was typically unsympathetic. “Upper GI!” she exclaimed. “That’s a long way for him to go to get his head out of his ass.” Maybe she really is my long-lost baby sister!

Most recently, I was wrestling with a large downed tree limb near our house, unwisely attempting to move it on my own. I lost my footing in the storm-driven debris and went down hard, the heavy limb crashing into my inner thigh like a medieval jouster’s lance.  A few moments later, my leg ballooned up like it had been pumped with helium. Needless to say, I was in tremendous pain. Literally crawling back to the house, I called to my wife in her upstairs office. No response. Again, I cried out…and again, nothing. Twenty minutes later, my wife finally appeared, only to remind me “you knew I was going to be on an important conference call this afternoon.” A few hours later, I visited my doctor who said I had “the most impressive-looking hematoma” he’d ever seen. I don’t even want to think about what my wife and “baby sis” would do with that comment.


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