In the 26 years my wife and I have been married, I have come to realize that the hardest part of our wedding vows is not "for richer or for poorer." That's because we have two children we have had to feed, clothe, put through college and, worst of all, pay telephone bills for, so being rich has never been an option.
No, the hardest part of our wedding vows has always been the line that requires us to stay together "in sickness and in health." That's because my wife and I have been passing the same cold back and forth to each other for the past quarter-century.
I recently recovered, after two weeks of suffering, from a severe cold and sinus infection that my wife kindly gave to me and which, in loving reciprocation, I gave back to her and which she is just now recovering from and will undoubtedly, because she is a selfless person herself, give right back to me. In our house, love is a many-sniffled thing.
The problem with having a cold (aside from the fact that it makes you feel lousy, although it keeps Kleenex in business, which is nothing to sneeze at) is that no one knows how to fight one. Even doctors, who can transplant organs, a job formerly done by moving companies, admit there is no cure for the common cold. Uncommon colds are even worse.
To compound matters, no one is sure whether you are supposed to starve a cold and feed a fever or feed a cold and starve a fever. The only thing anyone knows is that if you don't eat, you will starve to death. And if you do eat, you will strengthen your cold or your fever, either of which can kill you if left untreated. It's enough to make you sick.
The old wives' tale is that the only way to combat a cold is with chicken soup, which benefits everyone except, of course, chickens. That's why colds are the second-leading cause of death among chickens. The first is scrambled eggs.
The old husbands' tale, which involves a risque joke that can't be repeated here, is that nothing works except sitting in a chair with a beer in one hand and the TV remote in the other. Many old husbands succumb to either illness or their old wives.
This shows the fundamental difference between the sexes: When it comes to being sick, men are babies. At the risk of insulting babies, who can't read anyway, I am in this category. When I was sick recently, I felt so lousy that I couldn't do anything around the house. This led my wife to comment that she couldn't tell the difference. Immediately I began to feel better.
My wife, who is more susceptible to illness than I am, probably because her immune system is weakened by overwork, especially around the house, just kept going when she was sick. This led me to comment that I couldn't tell the difference. Immediately I began to feel worse.
In fact, the cold that my wife and I have been exchanging all these years attacks my wife more often than it does me, possibly because my body is unattractive but more likely because my wife is a teacher whose little students are constantly sneezing on her or wiping their runny noses on her sleeve. I, on the other hand, work in an office where sneezing or wiping your nose on your co-workers not only is forbidden, but isn't covered by the company's medical plan. The cold gets passed around anyway because it is trapped in what has been classified as a "sick building." Sparing no expense for the welfare of its employees, management has decided to give the building a bowl of chicken soup.
Now that my wife is feeling better, I think I feel another cold coming on. And because I am such a baby, I am beginning to think about the most worrisome part of our wedding vows: "Till death do us part."
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post