Hard as it may be to believe, cold and flu season is already upon us. I know, it seems like just yesterday we were crowning last season's cold and flu champion, but that's time for you.
As is tradition in our family, my wife commemorated the start of the season in the usual way - by badgering me about getting a flu shot. And, true to my role, I used unassailable logic to explain precisely why I should not do so.
"Why would I ever get a flu shot?" I asked, incredulous. "Isn't the point to keep from getting the flu? So why would it make any sense to go out and inject yourself with the very thing you're trying to avoid? Even I'm not that dumb."
As it turns out the shot is actually supposed to inoculate you from getting the flu which, I observed, makes it the most misleadingly-named product since Milwaukee's Best beer. Unwilling to be distracted into a discussion of this perfectly valid point, my wife added that since flu shots are often in short supply these days, I needed to get one as soon as possible.
In that case, I said, isn't it my duty as a moral, caring and compassionate person to step aside to allow others in greater need to enjoy the benefits of this potentially lifesaving injection that I don't want to get in the first place?
In the past these and other ploys - such as faking my death and assuming a new identity - have been sufficient to help me delay getting the dreaded shot until the season has passed or the stock of available shots ran out. Not this year. That's because last week my wife informed me that my father-in-law, a practicing physician, would be stopping by the house to deliver my flu shot personally. I got on the phone immediately to try to head him off.
"Dad, thanks so much, but you really don't have to bother. I've already made plans to take care of it myself," I said, thumbing through the new passport I'd just photoshopped together on my computer.
"Oh, it's no bother," he replied. "This is an important preventative health measure that will help you keep pounding the pavement for that real job you've been talking about getting for the past few years. Plus I've been waiting for a good reason to jab you with a sharp object for some time now. So it's a real win-win. And don't ever call me 'Dad.'"
So, much to my chagrin, my father-in-law showed up with the flu shot in hand. As a last-ditch effort I commented that it seemed improper for him to give me a shot in a non-sterile environment like my kitchen. Also that I'd never heard of anyone getting a flu shot in the neck before.
"Hey, who's the doctor here, me or you?" he responded, applying the full weight of his body to the knee he used to pin the back of my head to the floor.
So now it's a week later and, predictably enough, I'm sick. Which I wouldn't mind so much, except that with all the coughing and sneezing, I can barely get through an entire, "I hope you're happy now" each time my wife enters the room.
The other problem is that since I don't have a job, I can't take a sick day. Not that anyone actually skips work when they're sick any more. "As long as I'm going to be miserable, I might as well be at work," is the typical employee's attitude. So-called "sick days" are reserved for extraordinary circumstances, like half-price banana slammers day at the local tiki bar, or that occasional morning when you're feeling so frustrated with your boss and coworkers that the only way you're going into the office is with a dozen sticks of dynamite strapped to your chest.
But just because I don't have a "real" job right now doesn't mean I never will (despite what my father-in-law says). And in case I ever do land gainful employment, I'll need to be ready. Ready to call in sick, that is. Which is why I'm taking advantage of the fact that I currently have the throaty, tubercular cough of a dying chimney sweep in a Dickens novel to prerecord my "calling in sick" message.
This message came out so authentic-sounding, I've even recorded a range of others designed to get me out of every conceivable future social obligation, from weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals to dental appointments, traffic school and interventions. In fact, I'm already planning to use the latest message I've recorded when I call my father-in-law this time next year to get out of having to endure another one of his flu shots.