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The Man Cold: Calling In Sick

For those days when you’re utterly miserable and feverish. When you’re coughing up a lung and kind of wishing that a meteorite would hit your house, because at least then you’d be dead, and your head might stop pounding…

The term “man cold” has come to be used derisively (mostly by women) to underestimate the full scope of this horror:

man cold definition t shirt

But the truth is that men have been suffering like this for millennia and enthusiastically complaining about it for at least as long. After all that time, the practice of bemoaning your illness falls somewhere between “honored tradition” and “universal manly responsibility” (like taking out the garbage, but less fun).

Yet, though many men have suffered, perhaps the most famous of these not-so-stoic sneezers is Ogden Nash (1902-1971), the much-loved American poet and essayist, who not only survived his share of colds, but passed on a legacy to the following generations. So, the next time someone tells you that you’re “not that sick,” give them the classy response, and refer them to this poem:

Ogden Nash reading the common cold poem

The Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
In never paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh, what derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

man sick with the common man cold

So, the next time you’re sick, raise a shot of cough syrup to Ogden Nash, who may have predated the term “man cold,” but who also defined it perfectly for future generations.

man cold owning its victim

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