Man in Pain

     It’s well known that women deal with pain better than men.
     I don’t mean that women deal with pain better than they deal with men; I mean they deal with pain better than men do.
     The average woman in pain carries the pain around with her as she does her daily work and chores. If it gets really bad she takes an aspirin. If it gets even worse and won’t go away she goes to a doctor. That usually takes care of the pain.
     The average man in pain informs the woman he is with that he is in pain.
     This does not take care of the pain. It has no effect on the pain whatsoever. All it does is spread the pain around.
     Nonetheless, this is what the average man does, and he keeps doing it until the woman he is with tells him to go to the doctor or shut up already.
     The man then replaces some of his pain with resentfulness that the woman does not want to know about his pain. This does not help either.
     I am an average man in this way, but I try not to complain until the pain gets really bad. Then I make up for all the time I missed complaining.
     That’s what happened this week. My tooth hurt a bit on Tuesday, and a bit more on Wednesday. On Thursday it really hurt, but I figured it would get better on its own. It did not. On Friday it hurt like a bastard if I tried to eat and on Saturday it hurt like a bastard whether I was eating or not. On Sunday I couldn’t eat.
     So what did I do? Did I call the dentist’s emergency line? I did not. I complained to Jane.
     “It won’t get better,” she said.
     This may seem a heartless reply, indicating that I am doomed to a lifetime of unremitting pain. Actually, it was a reasonable reply, with an implied dependent clause. The clause was: “unless you go to the dentist.”
     On Monday morning, the dentist’s receptionist told me they could squeeze me in Wednesday afternoon.
     “Hat’s hine,” I said, trying not to move my jaw.
     I asked what the chance was of getting a painkiller. The receptionist was dubious, but said she’d ask.
     This allowed me to resent a dentist I had never seen for failing to lavish narcotics upon me because I had picked up a phone.
     “What kind of deal is this?” I thought.
     What the dentist should have said was: “Narcotics? Sure! How much would you like? What kind? If you take enough pills they should subdue that nasty throbbing in your big toe from your bike ride yesterday.”
     I only got about 10 minutes of resentment out of it, though, because the dentist called me back, listened to me, and said he’d better call in an antibiotic as well as the painkiller.
     “Hat’s hreat,” I said, and I meant it, too.
     I wondered what kind of painkiller he would order. I hoped it was a good one. Now all I had to do was stand the pain for an hour or two, then gobble down some pills.
     In those two hours, did I complain to Jane that I could not see the dentist for two days?
     That I had to wait for two hours to take legal, medical-grade narcotics?
     I did not. I kept my mouth shut and took the pain.
     Because I’m a man.

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