In Sickness and in Health?

Her: “I’m sick, you want to come over?”

Me: “Um, no thank you…”

This conversation occurred between me and my first girlfriend and left me utterly confused.  Just 18 years old the time, I had only my upbringing as a source of social etiquette and the lesson regarding sickness was ‘stay home so you don’t get other people sick’.  So why would a woman who ostensibly cares about me invite me to her germ farm?

Clearly I was bit naive at the time and have since learned the value of a significant other’s care when under the weather. Nonetheless, I still find the rules confusing…

When Jen called from her apartment in a raspy voice I knew my role as boyfriend. I grabbed some DVD’s and hit the supermarket to stock her with the works– soups, crackers, juices, medicine. I arrived at her pad like a Santa Claus for sick people. After heating up some chicken noodle and keeping her company I decided to get going.

“You’re leaving me?” she protested.

“Um, not for good but…” I stammered.

“I’m sick.” she said, like it was fault.

Are you kidding? She wants me to spend the night? Instinctively, I tried to make it about her, “Sweetie, you’ll rest better with the bed to yourself…”

My strategy totally backfired as she shot down my theory and left me with no backup.

“I’ll rest better with you here.”

It didn’t make any sense– we only slept over one or two nights a week as it was, why do it when it won’t even be fun? What followed was a sloppily crafted argument of how it’s best for everyone if I left. By the end she was mad and actually wanted me to leave, not how I planned it.

The same issue grew more complicated when I moved in with Claudia. She’d spent the night sniffling and coughing and, with no apartment of my own, I decided I’d at least sleep better (and avoid getting sick) on the couch. I also knew this would likely not be well received so decided to get the ball rolling.

“So… I’ll sleep on the couch tonight so you can have the bed to yourself.” I said with zero conviction.

Darn, I made the same mistake as with Jen– trying to make it about her.

“No.”

What is with these women? I don’t like sharing the bed when I’m healthy so I really don’t want to be bothered when I’m sick.  Alas, they seem to have a ‘we’re in this together’ approach– a theory solidified by Dara when the tables were turned this past New Year’s Eve.

Totally down for the count with a vicious flu, I informed her I unfortunately had to cancel our plans.

“I’ll just come hang out with you then.” she countered.

It was incredibly sweet but I encouraged her to go out and do something fun with her friends.  After all, who wants to stay in with a sick person on New Year’s?  She did.

“If you’re saying you don’t want me that’s fine but otherwise I’d rather spend it with you.”

I was hardly good company but secretly loved the idea of her coming over.

“I’d love to see you.” I stated with some conviction.

“Then you will.”

It was one of the best New Year’s of my life.  We watched TV coverage from around the globe and ate plain toast.  And, while I felt terrible, for a while even forgot I was sick.  At midnight, she insisted on kissing me and shortly thereafter we fell asleep in each other’s arms.  In my bed.  And guess what, she didn’t get sick.

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