As a public service, I have exhaustively researched the current hot topic of the swine flu. By exhaustive research, of course, I mean repeated viewings of "Charlotte's Web," "Babe," and "Porky's 2: The Next Day."
The current pandemic divides people into two extremes: those who are freaking out over it and those who are supremely skeptical after the swine flu outbreak that fizzled in 1976.
The 1976 outbreak was indeed a public relations nightmare. Perhaps the worst part was Pres. Gerald Ford enlisting celebrities to spread his scare tactics. ("This is the Fonz, telling you that unless you get the injection, your computer will stop working on January 1, 2000. Aaayyy!")
I'm afraid the 1976 vaccine was inadequately funded because I convinced Sen. Howard Baker to divert funds to the more urgent (by prom time!) issue of a zit vaccine.
As for those who take the current threat TOO seriously, their knee-jerk reaction of grabbing remedies such as Tamiflu (when they aren't even exhibiting symptoms) runs the risk of producing viruses that are impervious to drugs. And these viruses won't be the cute kind of mutant like Wolverine. No, they'll be more like Sen. Arlen Specter. ("And if I get tired of mutating into a Democrat, I'll mutate into a...Staphylococcus Aureus! An independent-thinking Staphylococcus Aureus that Pennsylvanians can respect!")
People are in denial about the irrationality of their panic. ("I've gotta have the prescription for the medicine, Doc! And while you're at it, write me a prescription for milk, bread, and toilet paper!")
This current outbreak started in Mexico, our "neighbor to the south." First it was "undocumented workers." then spillover carnage from drug kingpins. Now this. Hey, neighbors, Trivial Pursuit Night is canceled!!!
American businesses are distraught over the potential loss of PRODUCTIVITY if the virus spreads. You have no idea how hard it is to photocopy your buttocks when you're aching and sneezing all the time. Thank goodness the swine flu didn't hit during March Madness! ("Sorry, man. I threw up all over your NCAA brackets. I can sort of make out Duke.")
The nation's $15 billion pork industry is endangered by the hysteria. People mistakenly think that swine flu comes from EATING pork products, just because the word "swine" is in the name. I guess they think no one needs to worry about the Hong Kong Flu except maybe Godzilla.
The World Health Organization had to be dragged kicking and screaming into dropping the name "swine flu." They claimed that the change would CONFUSE THE PUBLIC. If they're worried about confusing the populace, they should come up with a better acronym. ("Sir, WHO is on the phone." "I haven't the foggiest notion. Who IS on the phone?" "That's right." "Huh??" "Third base!")
The Centers For Disease Control advise Americans to take "commonsense" precautions to ward off the swine flu. But it's not common sense to believe that there are jillions of tiny invisible infectious agents swarming over your hands and lurking on doorknobs for hours on end when they could be at home watching "Wheel of Fortune." Forget common sense! We need some of them there scientist fellers with their book learnin' to whomp up a virus death ray or something!
I'd love to share more of my vast storehouse of knowledge, but those videotapes won't rewind themselves. Th-th-th-that's all, folks!
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.