I’ve had two flu shots in my life. Both were forced on me by continuous nagging. People who don’t even like me begged me to get a shot. When given the choice between an argument and a lie, I prefer the lie. -- “Yes, I got a flu shot back in March, two in November, and I’m going for another one as soon as you back away.
When asked how effective this year’s flu shot is, a doctor being interviewed on a health segment of the news, replied, “There’s a 10 percent chance that this year’s vaccine will target the most active virus.” Ten percent? If there’s a ten percent chance that a shot will prevent a nuclear exchange, I’ll take the shot. But, to stave off some remote sickness, I prefer not to get a shot, or orifice probing, or testicular salve. That’s why I didn’t get a flu shot this year, nor any other year since the Soviet Union disbanded. In that time I only got the flu twice. At least I thought I did.
Come to find out, I never had the flu… not until I started writing this year’s Christmas short story. I had just gotten home from the dentist, who pulled Tooth 19. It’s a molar on the bottom left-hand side. The only thing that might have saved the tooth was surgery, requiring the dentist to enter through my left ear. (I have trouble listening to doctors.)
So, I got home feeling numb from my chin to my nose. My jaw was throbbing, my nose started running and I developed a headache. So, how to begin this year’s Christmas story? Why not have one of the characters be sick? Shortly after I started I began to get the chills. I longed for a grizzly bear blanket. (It’s part of the stupid Christmas story. Scroll down an article or two.)
Part I of the story was supposed to be really short. Unfortunately, it grew because I was out of my mind and didn’t know where I was going. As I continued the story, my character started feeling somewhat better, while I kept getting sicker. Eventually, I mentioned a Part II for the story to be published the following week, and then quit..
A week later, I began Part II. I felt no better. I had no idea the flu lasted that long. I was completely incapacitated. At one point, I remember Freeman calling to tell us that an ambulance had just carried Virginia to the emergency room because of chest pain. The doctor said there were so many flu cases, that there was only one bed left in the hospital. By the way, Virginia is fine. I don’t know what she had, but I don’t care, ‘cause she’s fine. If I let her describe what she had, I’d probably get it. I am suggestively vulnerable to any illness. Once I was even talked into a kidney stone.
Fortunately. I apparently did not have a really bad case of the flu. Bad flu carriers are too sick to the leave the bed. I stayed in bed much of each day, but occasionally I’d drag my bones to the living room. I didn’t want to watch TV; I didn’t want to eat; and I wasn’t crazy about Kay’s singing. All I did was sit and stare… and try to figure out if I wanted to get up or stay put. The flu does something intense to one’s decision-making capabilities. Don't know if you knew that.
On the morning before Christmas, I had a brief sense of wellness, so I went with Kay to HEB. We entered the store at 8:00 a.m. By 8:20, the place was packed. People didn’t know where or how to steer their carts. Everyone started talking really loud. I would stay at the end of the aisle where there was a display of something no one would want. All I could do was stand and stare and try to decide that if I moved, where would I go?
I kid you not, no matter where I moved, somebody would want to stand right where I was. -- “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was blocking the cinnamon flavored Q-Tips?” -- My only contribution to the shopping experience was to stick a gigantic block of cheese in the cart. No rhyme nor reason.
By the time we got home, I was exhausted. I stayed in bed the rest of the day. A couple of days after Christmas I felt well enough to go to Walmart with Kay. I agreed to go, because I thought we were going to Home Depot.
Kay had a grocery list that began with “bread” and ended with “soap dishes.” If you look at a list of the 10 hardest things to find at Walmart, you'll find "soap dish" at #3. Best to just buy a bag of Styrofoam dessert plates.
When we got home from Walmart, I was mentally deranged, but not physically ill. And, I’ve been that way ever since. I now know what the flu is. It’s bad. I don’t ever want it again. But, I still refuse to get the vaccine. There's a 90% chance I'll get the wrong shot. I don't like those odds.
Mark can be contacted at email@example.com.