Thursday, January 15, 2009

That's why men don't have babies

"That's why men don't have babies"
(originally published September 17, 2008)

He dislocated his thumb.

One would think he’d severed a limb.

“It hurts. Bad. Really, really, really bad.”

The whine in my husband’s voice echoed through the telephone’s speaker.

“Seriously. I’ve never had anything hurt this bad before,” he continued, his whine beginning to border on downright hysteria.

One side of me – the caring wife who had naively promised to honor (but not obey) until death do us part – answered in a muted and concerned voice, using phrases like “Poor, baby,” and “Is there anything I can do?”

But the other side of me – the one who spent 24 hours in gut-wrenching labor with our son and at one point asked the nurse if she could speed things up by lighting a fire and smoking the baby out – wanted to scream, “SUCK IT UP, YOU BIG, GIGANTIC BABY MAN!! YOU HURT YOUR FREAKIN’ THUMB!! BIG DEAL!! TRY PUSHING A BOWLING BALL OUT YOUR WHOZIT-WHATIZ WHILE YOUR ENTIRE MIDSECTION FEELS LIKE THE CREATURE IN ‘ALIEN’ IS ABOUT TO BUST THROUGH IT...THEN GET BACK TO ME!!”


That’s why men don’t have babies.

It’s quite likely they’d give up after the first contraction.

“Whoa!” manly man would say when the labor pains began. “What was that?! Where’d that come from?! Is it gonna do that for very long, doc? ‘Cuz, you know that stuff just ain’t gonna fly. I’m serious. That hurt! Maybe a beer would help…or a sandwich. Or those fancy drugs everyone’s always talking about. Yeah, how ‘bout one of those epiladies or whatever they’re called? Can I have one of them?”

Not that it would matter. One look at the stirrups at the end of the examination table and he’d be out the door, hospital gown flapping in the breeze, looking for the nearest sports bar.
But getting back to Mr. Weenie Man, love of my life and my not-so-better half.

He’d been perfectly fine just an hour before. Hanging out at the barbecue competition he and his brother had entered that weekend at a nearby lake community and doing manly things.

Yes, manly things like grilling meat, drinking beer, swapping stories, uh, drinking beer, playing catch, drinking beer, fishing, and, well, uh, drinking beer.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this is going.

“What exactly happened?” I asked, knowing the answer would involve the aforementioned beer, his brother and an activity two 40-something men shouldn’t have been doing in the first place.
So I was surprised when he simply answered, “I went down to the lake to wash off my hands and slipped on a rock.”

OK. Not a story for the ages. He then added, “Holy –. This pain is like no other.”

Oh, my. So simple. So sweet. So stupid.

I could only imagine how he’d be feeling if he wasn’t enjoying the analgesic qualities provided by the alcohol.

The very same alcohol that probably led to the little balancing problem he’d encountered at the water’s edge. But we won’t delve into that just now.

I shook my head and asked, “So you fell and just landed wrong?” I looked for assurance that this didn’t involve falling in the lake, resulting in a water rescue.

Because that would just be flat-out embarrassing.

“I landed on my hand. I looked down, and my thumb was just hanging there,” he said.

He then proceeded to tell me how they popped it back into place, how bruised it was, how swollen it was, how deformed his hand looked, how badly it throbbed, and, yes, how much it hurt.

“It’s like a pain you’ll never know,” he announced with complete sincerity.

My eyes narrowed. I smiled and silently thought, Game on.

“OK, mister. Time for a little perspective here,” I snapped. “Let’s take a bowling ball and try to shove it up your –.” And then realized I was talking to air. He’d already ditched the phone.

Smart man.

“Hey, there,” my brother-in-law’s cheery voice rang down the line, effectively putting an end to my not-so-gentle suggestion of where I was gonna put that bowling ball.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Everything’s under control. We’ll take good care of him.”

How sweet. He thought I was worried. Naivety must run in the family.

“And good news,” he continued, “we won second place and $400!”

Great, I thought. That should about cover the emergency room bill.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at

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