When it comes to pain, I prefer to suffer in silence, as long as everyone knows I am suffering. The other night I was tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep because of horrible discomfort. My groans and moans woke my wife who asked: “Have you given birth; where are the triplets?”
I gathered the strength to speak. “I have a cut on the tip of my tongue and every time it its hits my teeth, it hurts. I can’t sleep.”
The woman who vowed to love me in sickness and in health rolled over, pulled the covers over her head and said there was ibuprofen in the kitchen cupboard.
“My body is a temple and I don’t like to take painkillers,” I protested. “Besides, I can’t swallow those horse pills.”
She sighed deeply: “Honey, your body is more like a cathedral and horse pills should be no problem for a man of your stature. Now, take two bottles and everything will be fine.” I’m sure she meant to say, “take two pills.”
It is a myth that women handle pain better than men. My mother always said that if men had the babies, every child would be an only child. On the contrary, it is not a gender issue; it is a sensitivity issue. Some of us are more attuned to our bodies, while the rest are insensitive clods who wouldn’t cry out if they caught their finger in a paper shredder.
Stoicism is so overrated. Nature endowed some of us with a low threshold of pain to ensure our fine genes would be passed on; survival of the faint of heart.
I padded downstairs and went to the cupboard where we put everything that has no place: batteries, Band-Aids, shoelaces and all the office supplies I pilfered from work. I searched for something to relieve my agony and found a little jar of a topical anesthetic called Hurricane that we used on the kids when they were teething; it would numb their entire heads. When I finally got the 20-year-old jar open, I found the stuff had hardened to rock. I was beginning to panic.
The pain in my mouth was ceaseless. I was getting delirious when I spotted a bottle of Irish whiskey hidden behind a pile of undeveloped disposable cameras. We probably hid the booze there when the boys were “mischievous” teenagers. The label said the stuff had not only alcohol, but “honey gathered o’er the fields of Erin by fairies.” How could I go wrong? I poured a large tumbler, sat down at the kitchen table and stuck my tongue in the golden liquid.
After a few minutes, I tired of holding the glass to my lips, so I set it on the table and bent over, continuing to anesthetize my poor tongue. I looked like a demented Winnie the Pooh with my face in the honey jar.
At this point, my wife walked in. “What are you doing?” she asked, sounding nothing like Florence Nightingale. “I am oaking my ungue in iskey” I said. She opened her mouth to say something, thought better of it and headed back to bed; so much for better or for worse.
I assessed my situation. I could no longer feel my tongue; I was pain-free. Not wanting to waste the fine liqueur, I slowly drank down the entire glass. Soon, I couldn’t feel my toes. Gingerly, I made my way back upstairs. As I climbed into bed my wife asked, “Is that you, Bob?”
“Who the hell else would it be?” I slurred.
“A girl can dream,” she answered. “Now go to sleep.”