Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pigs on the wing, part III

So, predictably, here comes the swine flu hysteria . . .

Earlier this morning, as I left the house, I asked my wife, "How long until we get our first hysterical email from a Walter Johnson [high school] parent demanding to know how the school intends to protect the children from swine flu"?

I asked that question about 7.45 a.m. By 8.03 a.m., we had our answer: 18 minutes.


"Hi, Can anyone post what MCPS or WJ is doing regarding swabbing down desks, lockers, etc at the school? What extra steps are being taken re: the swine flu? I haven't seen anything from MCPS or the County. Now apparently there are a few cases in MD. Thanks."
Naturally, we also received an email from our temple ensuring us that the officers are taking all the necessary steps to prevent the swine flu from entering our congregation.

Silly, silly, silly. Even Reform Jews know that the swine flu isn't kosher.

Questions like these just demonstrate that you educate people at the finest schools in the land, the kind of schools that are so good that the owners of the Volvo station wagons (and their SUV successors) that carry their precious human cargo from place to place feel compelled to list them on each side of the rear window to inform all travelers of their discerning educational tastes and the deep pockets it takes to accumulate such a pedigree; that you can spot the difference between broccoli from broccoli rabe from thirty feet away at the local Whole Foods; that you can seal your home behind an vast array of anti-bacterial cleaners, soaps, vegetable waxes, tissue paper and naturally-derived laundry aides; that you can read every single issue of every single magazine about parenting, living more simply, going green, orange and blue and inject the latest miracle anti-oxidants . . . but you just can't make them think.

Here's some advice: either come to grips with the fact that no one, not even the most clever companies with the cleverest advertising and marketing campaigns, can shield you against certain phenomena in the natural order, or spend a fortune and your mental health falsely attempting to protect yourself against viruses and diseases that might make you sick or -- yikes!!! -- might even kill you. Pointing out that you have a better chance of dying in a car accident, getting your hand chopped off by a lawnmower (God, who does that? I've never understood how anyone could be that stupid. Ranks right up there with the people who drown in three inches of water), winning the Powerball lottery or becoming a professional athlete at the game's highest levels. Believe it or not, you have a better chance of contracting meningitis than you do of contracting the swine flu. And that is some nasty stuff. Had it in high school. Even math was more fun than dealing with that.

However . . . if you are one of those people who genuinely believe that we can all live risk-free lives despite the impossibility of doing so . . . if you are one those people who genuinely believe that two confirmed cases of swine flu in Maryland (population: about 5,650,000) means the coming of Armageddon . . . if you are one those people who genuinely believe in witchcraft, spells and religious wrath . . . then by all means do the following:

1. Take the plastic sheeting and duct tape you have leftover from the anthrax hysteria of fall 2001.

2. Construct a fort with no air holes in the darkest reaches of your basement, remembering to take the high-fiber dry goods and gallons and gallons and gallons of water you carted home in your Expedition or Range Rover from Giant or Safeway or Whole Foods to protect yourself against anthrax, biological terrorism, crop dusters with deadly chemicals and real terrorists who were going to enter your home (at 3 a.m., naturally) and smother you with blankets infected with smallpox.

3. Retrieve the Cipro you bought on the black market or hoarded through a well-placed doctor friend (by now expired, the Cipro, not the doctor, unless s/he expired), a map, three flashlights, a cell phone and your list of emergency contacts, even though, as the result of the terrorist attack, no one will even be alive, much less have power or phones.

4. Take one last look outside, then quickly go door to door in your neighborhood, zig-zagging in dark clothing, like you did to minimize your chances of being shot by the sniper of fall 2002, the one who experts decided was a disgruntled white man, a Joe the Plumber-type, driving around in a white van, even though it turned out to be a deranged African-American man and naive teen-aged boy who were driving around in beat-up Chevy sedan.

4. Get inside the plastic sheeting -- remember, no air holes, since the terrorists will dump spores of anthrax and other noxious chemicals into your personal safe space -- and seal it shut with the duct tape.

5. Whatever you do, don't read the newspaper accounts of the two teenagers who were just arrested today for plotting to bomb their high school over in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb just outside the D.C. line. You might not want to send your kids to school ever again. You might think about home-schooling them.

6. Then STFU and leave the rest of us alone.

And remember, when we run from the pigs rather than defeat the pigs in their own pens, the pigs win.

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