November 11, 2004

I heard recently that a department store Santa was unable to get a flu shot. I don’t know which is more disturbing: that Santa can’t get a flu shot, that department store Santas are actually people and not androids kept in cold storage in a warehouse in Indiana for most of the year, or the fact that there are already Christmas stories on the news and we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet. At least not in the United States. Canada has Thanksgiving on October 11th, which gives them a much longer shopping season. But I digress. Everyone’s worried about getting the flu this year – except me, that is. I have a plan.

We know that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger," and the only reason we know that is because it came up on the screen before the opening credits of "Conan the Barbarian". Even though we shouldn’t put too much faith the words of a guy who contracted syphilis from his sister, this principle does work for diseases. Most diseases are caused by bacteria which, like math teachers, reproduce asexually. You can hit bacteria with something deadly like plutonium or my mother’s meatloaf, and most of them will die, but if even one survives it can reproduce. These bacteria will be completely resistant within a few generations, which, with bacteria, last about an hour, meaning bacteria will go from thinking bellbottoms are really cool to thinking they’re incredibly stupid to thinking they’re hip because they’re "retro" in less than a day. You’ll have bacteria that can not only eat my mother’s meatloaf but will eat it right out of the oven and not put it in the refrigerator overnight because it does make a really good cold sandwich.

But I digress. This is why it drives me crazy that everything from soap to laundry detergent to beef to sitcoms is loaded with antibiotics. We’ve thrown around antibiotics so much that instead of making ourselves safer from disease we’ve instead got bacterial parents slapping their offspring on the back and saying, "Eat up that penicillin, it’ll put hair on your chest!" I say it’s time we fight back against the hairy-chested diseases not by smearing our bodies with anti-bacterial liquid soap, no matter how much fun it is to do this at family gatherings, but by building up our own natural resistance. Now I’m not going to go exposing myself to meatloaf or plutonium, partly because exposing yourself is illegal where I live, but mainly because I have my own saying: That which will kill me will kill me. The department store Santa Claus needs a flu shot because he’s going to be spending time with some very nice little children and a whole lot of snot-nosed brats. Ideally this would give him a resistance to everything from ebola to being kicked repeatedly in the shins, but chances are he’d die before his resistance builds up, and a dead Santa Claus can really dampen the holiday spirit.

So I say give Santa a flu shot. Resistance can’t be built up overnight, any more than we can learn that bellbottoms really are an idiotic fashion idea in a single generation. This sort of thing has to start slowly. I’m going to begin by smearing myself with bacteria-laden garbage. This will have the added benefit of keeping other people away from me, so I won’t have to worry about catching anything from anybody. I’ve heard that the best defense is a good offense, although I don’t know who said that. Maybe it was Nietzsche’s sister. It really doesn’t matter, because I know you’re thinking, That’s great for bacteria, but the flu is a virus. You’re right, but viruses are a topic I refuse to touch. I don’t know where they’ve been.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

A blonde calls her boyfriend and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can’t figure out how to get it started." Her boyfriend asks, "What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?"

The blonde says, "According to the picture on the box, it’s a tiger."

Her boyfriend decides to go over and help with the puzzle.

She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger." He takes her hand and says, "Second, I want you to relax. Let’s have a nice cup of tea, and then….."

he sighed, ………………………………….. "let’s put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box."

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