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Easy, okay and yes 1

Dear Bradshaw,

            Well, the flu season has arrived and it’s a doozy. To begin with, I’ve been greeted in students’ houses by entire families bundled up in their pajamas, sick with the flu and apologizing for the way they’re dressed but, get this, not for exposing me to their debilitating virus. No, it’s not swine flu (pork fever as one of my students calls it) but the flu it is — vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, despair — and me in the middle. This is no joke, man. I’ve managed to stay healthy so far but swine flu’s expected to sweep through the city and when it does I may not be so lucky. Emails have been circulating about how to avoid it and, in addition to the slew of other information, three of the most important tips are to wash your hands with soap and hot water as often as possible, never touch your face, and don’t shake people’s hands. Washing my hands and not touching my face is easy, okay and yes — but refusing to shake someone’s hand is like spitting in his or her eye. How can I avoid shaking someone’s hand without offending the person who’s holding it out?

            One of my students told me I was silly to worry about it. Of course, she owns property and has a fixed income while I, on the other hand, own a few pairs of pants and am paid by the hour. Meanwhile, she’s Asian and man I should have been Asian. Asian people greet each other by bowing. When bowing, nobody touches anybody and, therefore, nobody infects anyone else with germs, microbes or the flu. Instead, I’m in Italy, where people greet each other by kissing on both cheeks, which is like filling out an application requesting infection.

            I’m doomed, Shaw, doomed! Surrounded by sickness, I’m in line waiting to fill out the form. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was a cold going around because, well, a cold is an inconvenience, a mere nuisance, like a pestering fly buzzing around the kitchen when you’re cooking, while the flu is a cloud of mosquitoes sucking blood from your skin and leaving painful bumps that itch for hours.

            Oh well, who knows? Maybe if I wash my hands with soap and hot water as often as possible and never touch my face, I’ll be okay. But what about shaking hands and kissing cheeks? I don’t know, Shaw, nothing is certain, except that if the flu doesn’t kill me, the suspense is sure to.

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  1. Patrick says:

    I really enjoy reading your posts. I feel people are overrating the problem, rather than swine flu I’m more worried about the fact that people eat like swine

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