You've heard of PMS, of course. Well, TLC readers, today we're talking about SMS--that well-known, but rarely discussed and no-apologies sexist condition known as as Stubborn Man Syndrome.
I present these week's case: My neighbor, Chris, thought he was having a heart attack. Fortunately, it turned out to be a nasty case of shingles. How did he discover the real diagnosis, you ask? By going to the emergency room to get a cardiologist's opinion on the possible heart attack? No, he waited TWO MORE DAYS until the rash really broke out, and then he went to the nurse practitioner at the local pharmacy who confirmed the shingles and gave him appropriate meds. BUT HE NEVER SAW A DOCTOR ABOUT THE POSSIBLE HEART ATTACK.
Therefore, I submit for your approval, the foremost symptom of Stubborn Man Syndrome: (1.) the unshakable belief in his own immortality. The Stubborn Man is indestructible.
A sub-symptom is (1b.) the refusal to seek medical attention. Last week's case? My contractor, Rick, returned to my home to attend to a few items on the kitchen rehab punchlist. Except Rick was essentially unable to do the work because he'd earlier shot himself in the hand with a nail gun. Was he rendered helpless because his hand was bandaged, splinted, slathered with antibiotics? No, silly reader, he was unable to use his hand BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO GO TO THE DOCTOR AND WAS WAITING FOR HIS HAND TO REPAIR ITSELF.
Another common symptom of SMS is (2.) the reluctance to take advice from any female, particularly a spouse. Example: On a typical Sunday evening at 7pm, when the thermometer still reads a balmy 28 degrees, do you say to my--er--your husband, "Honey, why don't you take the trash to the curb before the blizzard starts?" The answer: "No. No, no, no, no and NO." Why? Because taking care of the trash early goes against the husband's Sunday routine. It would require him getting up from the sofa three hours earlier than necessary. But you, wise reader, can write the scene that takes place at 11pm: With the wind blasting needles of snow and the driveway freezing into an urban ice rink, he skates the trash can to the curb, cussing and swearing, then returns to the back porch to discover he's locked himself out of the house. And guess who must climb out of bed, scramble downstairs to the sound of door pounding to let in the Stubborn Man?
(3.) Possession-related stubbornness is our next symptom: You say your father wore the same bathrobe for 50 years? Your brother refuses to give up the beer mug he received as a fraternity pledge in 1979? Bingo--SMS.
Yes, Alexander the Great is one of the earliest documented cases of SMS. He conquered the world for reasons not entirely understood except by Alex himself and maybe his court-appointed therapist, and he died at the age of 32. (I'm guessing his cause of death was a heart attack that he figured would cure itself.) But I'm thinking maybe he also presented with one of the primary manifestations of the syndrome---(4.) the refusal to ask directions. I'm sure each and every one of you has many, many examples of this symptom, so I won't bother to list further cases.
Christopher Columbus is another early-known Stubborn Man. He exhibited one of the primary symptoms---(5.) the firm belief that he is absolutely right despite generally accepted thinking to the contrary.
"Christopher, baby, the world is flat!" cried all his friends.
"I think I'll go take a look anyway," he replied, stocking a few barrels with salt pork, some stale biscuits and a couple of live chickens before setting off in a very small boat in lousy weather. Do you think he had really studied the stars? Done the math? Scribbled a bunch of planetary algorithms on a napkin? Of course not. He simply had a really bad case of SMS.
Henry Hudson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Magellan, Marco Polo? All Stubborn Men. Likewise, the various leaders of those crazy Crusades to the Holy Lands. Wouldn't sane men have stayed home, maybe learned to brew some mead and chase a few wenches? Perhaps trained a falcon or a couple of nice hunting dogs? Learned to upholster a tapestry? Not if under the influence of SMS. Likewise, Sir Edmund Hillary was surely suffering from SMS, but at least he had Tenzing Norgay along to keep him alive on that mountain. Or did Tenzing have a suppressed case, too?
Yes, there's a lot to be said for the courage and determination of great exploreres. Take those early pioneers who drove their Connestoga wagons across a continent. Would we have, say, California, if not for them? And they are no doubt relatives of our first nutcases---er, scientists at NASA who wanted to get a closer look at the moon, right?
Of course, other manifestations of the syndrome include The Candidate Who Will Not Quit Despite No Chance Of Winning The Election. Not to mention The Politician Who Will Not Read A Newspaper or Watch Any TV But Fox News.
I know, I know. Wise asses among you are asking: But, Nancy, would our glorious civilization be where we are today without SMS? Well, here's an expert who theorizes that women had a lot to do with progress, too, at least when it came to military efforts. (I always thought camp followers were making a living turning sexual favors, but it seems I was poorly informed.)
Is SMS always a bad thing?
Not always. My dad bought INTEL before anybody know what a personal computer was. He refused to sell. Thank heavens.
Is there a cure for this affliction? Have you discovered a way to turn your obstinate mate away from the path he's chosen? If you've found a way to get the bulldog to loosen his jaw, please share.
But for today, I welcome all further manifestations of Stubborn Man Syndrome. Gimme your best examples, please. What symptoms have I neglected to list?