After eight hours of fitting costumes on thirty teenagers, I was craving tranquility as I drove my car up the driveway to the front of our home. My darling teenage son greeted me with a hug as he took my bags while the lady of the house skidded to a stop, wagged her tail and licked my hand. “How’s it been for you today?” I asked. Her deep brown eyes mottled with specks of black looked pleadingly into mine before shaking her head despondently and heading back to her beanbag. His royal highness appeared from the kitchen honoring me with his presence, throwing his head to one side and arcing his feline body toward his food bowl saying, “You may feed me now, human.” “That ain’t going to happen,” I mumbled back at him before finding myself mesmerized by his green eyes and instantly pouring tasty morsels into his bowl. I’m convinced my cat is a vampire.

The sound of motorcycles revving up and men’s voices hootin’ and hollerin’ blared out from the pulpit, that place of male worship with the flat screen and complicated remotes. Tonight’s sermon was entitled, “Moonshiners.” My hubby looked up at me sorrowfully and said through a stuffy nose, “Hey.” I didn’t feel like yelling to be heard above the preacher’s voice bellowing out from the TV, so I smiled sweetly and whispered under my breath, “What is that crap and why are you watching it?” Okay, so my words may have been just a little harsh, slightly judgmental, but I was tired, hungry and not feeling that good.

My man of the house had arrived home from LA a few days earlier armed with the dreaded man-flu; it wasn’t pretty. When women get the flu it’s called just that – the flu, an extension of a cold – but when men get it, it’s a super-breed all it’s own. They’ll tell you it’s much worse than anything you’ve ever had and it tends to last much longer than the type of influenza specifically designated to women. There’s no doubting it, the man-flu is a mega-bacteria, impervious to anything apart from antibiotics and a TV remote control.

It’s no secret that men are awful patients, and it’s no wonder that their wives encourage them to take potions such as NyQil or that wonderful cough syrup mixed with codeine. One small teaspoon of that elixir and your man is out for the count for a good six hours. The TV is off, everything in sight is disinfected, the windows are opened all the way and I sit down and enjoy a latte and a quiet moment before I’m reminded of the man-flu by woeful coughs and cries for water.

My husband clumsily grabbed the remote and switched channels. Another glare from me, and the screen went dark. Okay, so he’s sick, and I understand that sometimes we all just need to switch off and lose our minds in something mundane, I get it, really I do. But what happened to his beloved Larry David or Seinfeld or Portlandia or Parks and Recreation? I’d even take a damn Laker rerun (again) over this. My darling dog looked up at me and sighed, “It’s no use, it’s been like this all day – it’s the man-flu, you know.” Thank god I’m fluent in dog or I’d be nuts.

“I was just flicking around waiting for the game to start,” hubby weakly muttered. As if to torture me, Dracula had somehow managed to reboot the TV with his magic as he strode across the living room before jumping into the patient’s lap, purring furiously. What is the captivating element of reality TV? From where I stand it’s an insult to our intelligence. Who cares about a certain Kardashian – actually, who cares about any of the Kardashians? And Sarah Palin’s Alaska? The only thing that makes Palin tolerable is Tina Fey. Has the entertainment industry gone completely insane? We can’t come up with the money to fund education and health programs but hey, you need a few bucks to throw into producing and filming shows like those mentioned above – no problem.

This is the conversation I have silently with myself as I look up at the clock in the kitchen before reminding myself that my beloved has the man-flu. Just shut up and let him watch whatever the hell he wants – he’s sick for god’s sake, show some compassion. It’s nearly elixir time and surely this illness can’t last more than a few more days.

Needles to say, I got the dreaded disease the next day followed by our youngest who also succumbed to the fever and cough – of course it had to be during his one week vacation from school. As the two males of the household lay sprawled out on the sofas watching whatever happened to be on the box, I grabbed my computer, made up a comfy bed in the office and watched a few chick flicks while downing Ibuprofen followed by the infallible NyQil.

The three of us spent the next few days drifting in and out of each other’s lives, grunting greetings through coughs and sneezes via trips to the kitchen to replenish our liquid intake. The house resembled a college frat house – but the last thing I felt like doing was getting the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard or washing dishes. I ignored the comments from the two basketball fans hunkered down in the living room as I shuffled from ‘my area’ to the refrigerator, but I definitely heard reference to the amount of romantic cheesy vampire movies and books I’d demolished in two days. “Okay, so we’re even,” I muttered through coughs and gags.

After finding my way back to the comfort of my pillows, quilt and yet another vampire sequel movie marathon, my darling girl wandered in and sat down next to me. I looked down at her as my hands found comfort in the softness of her coat. “This too shall pass, sister,” she reminded me, “this too shall pass.”

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About Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Mandy Jackson-Beverly studied flute in Sydney, worked couture fashion in London, and has been a successful costume designer in LA, working with artists such as Madonna and David Bowie. She’s danced the tango with Robert Duvall, sewn buttons on coats with John Galliano, and discussed the art of sobriety with Alice Cooper and Russell Brand.

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