This article belongs to Heads or Tales column.


I'm starting to hear people getting all excited about bird flu . . .again.

Just so there's no misunderstanding, let me put in my request early this year: leave me alone. I will not be getting a flu shot this year . . . again. For like, the tenth straight year.


Quoth the raven: "Well, maybe just this once . . ."

Every year well-meaning friends, shrill newscasters and random homeless people try to convince me to get a flu shot.

Friends who've known me for awhile know that this is an exercise in futility. It's like trying to convince Lindsay Lohan not to have one more drink for the road. You're just wasting your breath.

But still, the flu-mongers persist. They generally resort to arguments they don't think I've heard before, like the ever-popular, "This is going to be the worst flu season, ever!"

Oooooh, stop it, you're scaring me. You really want to scare me? Tell me Madonna's making another movie.

My point is, ever since they came up with a flu vaccine, every year has been hyped as "the worst flu season ever."

Each year, thousands of people spend millions of dollars on vaccines, Jack Daniels and echinacea to ward off some new killer flu.

Of course, every year thousands of people are also able to convince themselves this will be the year that Jennifer Anniston finds true love.

I'm going on record with this deal: I'll get a flu shot when the Jennifer Anniston gets married.

I have a couple of problems with getting a flu shot.

First of all, it hurts. Okay, it doesn't hurt like a prison initiation, but it still requires that I voluntarily agree to let someone inflict pain on me. At least in prison I'd like to think I'd make an attempt to fight back.

My doctor still has not forgiven me for gouging him with a sharpened tongue depressor when he tried to give me a tetanus shot a couple years back.

Secondly, I have a problem with the fact that there is no guarantee that the shot will be at all effective in preventing the flu.

It seems to me the staff of the Office of Homeland Security probably worked in a flu clinic before moving into their new digs. The arguments and rhetoric sound suspiciously familiar . . . .

"We can't guarantee that anything we're doing will prevent [the flu or a terrorist attack]. In fact, we can pretty much guarantee that you'll get [the flu or be attacked by terrorists]. You should also know that [various strains of the flu or terrorist cells] are always mutating into new forms that we are not currently familiar with. The best we can hope for is to lessen the severity of [the flu or a terrorist attack]."

If you can't prevent the flu, the best thing you can do is to make plans to deal with it when you get it.  Personally, I favor the Courtney Love approach: take drugs.

I'm not talking heroin or crack. I'm talking hard stuff . . . like NyQuil.

For those of you addicted to heroin who've never tried NyQuil, it is an alternative worth investigating.

Oh sure, NyQuil costs more and is harder to get than heroin, but you get that same warm rush followed by the slow nodding off into a deep sleep.

Any doubts that NyQuil is a heroin-derivative disappear when you know the history of the marketing behind the product.  Back in the '80s, two groups of marketing executives were chosen to come up with an ad slogan for their respective drugs. The first group was locked in a room and given heroin. The second group was locked in a room and given NyQuil.

Four hours later both groups had come up with the same run-on, slurred sentence to promote their product: "The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, sleep better to feel better medicine . . . zzzzz."

With both drugs, you should refrain from operating anything that remotely qualifies as heavy machinery. Things such as a monster truck, a grain thrasher or a corkscrew.

Or you could reduce your chances of getting the flu altogether by just not hanging out with chickens.