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Superman Gets a Cold
 
My husband has a cold. Although, to hear him tell it, "It’s probably pneumonia or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or that rare disease they had on 20/20 last week that slowly eats away at your mucous membranes until you die!" I think that’s what he said anyway. It was kind of hard to hear over the wheezing and snorting.

Like most men, my husband cannot believe that something as simple as the COMMON cold can knock him out for a week. After all, in his mind, he’s Superman! So he couldn’t possibly be susceptible to the same cold everyone else on the planet has unless each individual cold germ was encased in kryptonite! Maybe Aquaman or Batman could get a cold, but not Superman!

Any reasonable person, okay, any reasonable woman, would assume that if everyone around her was sniffling and sneezing and she comes down with the same symptoms, it must be the same disease, whether it’s a cold or the flu. But many men are like my husband – instead of leaping tall buildings, they leap to the tall conclusion that they’re really, really sick. Much sicker than we women have ever been. And now with the Internet, they can leap to those conclusions faster than a speeding bullet.

On Day Two of his cold, my husband puffed out his chest, wiped his runny nose on his cape, and turned on his computer in search of the real villain that was making him feel lousy. Before I could say "Clark Kent," he had logged onto a medical website:

Welcome to Diseases.com. If you’re not sick now, you will be after you’ve read about all the horrible, disfiguring, and life-threatening illnesses you could possibly have without even knowing it!

The website asked him for his primary symptoms, so he typed "sneezing, fever, headache, and coughing." I would have added "whining, making mountains out of molehills, and inability to do anything for himself," but no one asked me.

After a few seconds, a new screen popped up:

In the past week, have you experienced any of the following? Queasiness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, swollen glands, insomnia, mood swings, unexplained rash, uncontrollable facial tic…?

It’s not really a good idea to present a list of symptoms to my husband. He’s the kind of guy who can be watching television in the peak of health, and a commercial for some kind of drug comes on and suddenly, he has every symptom. Last month he thought he had kennel cough. I told him it was only something dogs get. He just glared at me with that x-ray vision of his.

"Honey, how long has it been since I had that rash?," Superman moaned.

"What rash?," I asked.

"You know. That rash I had on my arm!"

"You mean that red thing on your elbow that turned out to be dried catsup?"

"Oh, right."

Undaunted, he checked off a whole array of other symptoms. Who knew Superman was so sickly? Finally, the diagnosis popped onto the screen.

According to your symptoms, you probably have a cold. However, if you are male, it’s probably not a cold. It’s probably one of the following: pneumonia, a strain of flu that’s never been seen in humans before, Mad Cow Disease, a pulmonary embolism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or Kennel Cough. We recommend you rest and drink plenty of fluids, preferably beer.

Superman turned to me, threw back his shoulders and said "See! I told you it wasn’t a cold! I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome!" I don’t know why he chose that one from the list.

"But you’re never tired," I argued. "You have more energy than a room full of first-graders!"

"Then, how do you explain the fact that I’ve been in bed for the past two days?," he taunted.

"Easy. You have a cold."

"Do not!" "Do too!" "Do not!"

This went on for a few minutes, until Superman fell asleep on the sofa, knowing full well that he had not been felled by the COMMON anything. Now he could rest and recuperate his energy so he’d be ready to rescue the world from evil another day.
     
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