All U Can Eat 

How I appeased the swine flu gods

The gods have been appeased. No doubt as a result of my efforts to win their favor.

See, for the past 11 days, I have feasted on swine. I have eaten bacon four times. Sausage, twice. Pepperoni, once. Hotdogs, once. Pork chops, three times. And before the day is done I just might sacrifice a ham sandwich, marking the sixth time this week I've eaten that sweet-cured treat.

Now, I haven't decided exactly how I will offer this ham sandwich to the gods. I may set up a tiny altar in the break room, light some candles, slip into a black robe, and drive a knife into the fatty heart of the sandwich. Much mustard and mayonnaise will be spilled.

Or I may string it up Fay Wray style and parade around the office in a gorilla suit; my co-workers will chant my name as I snatch the sandwich away and sneak back to my office where I will feast. The office walls will shake with my growls.

Or I could just leave it out all day and let it turn. It's cruel, yes. But cruelty just might be what the swine flu gods want. After all, they've been plenty cruel to us.

They've mocked us. They lied to us. They whipped us all into a frenzy, leaving us squealing and squirming in our seats. But what they don't really seem that interested in is killing us.

Remember back when we first heard about the swine flu? The word was that over 150 had died from this new and terrible form of the flu, a mixture of swine, avian, and standard human strains. Well, that figure was just a bit off. See, only 22 people worldwide have died from the swine flu, which is 478 less than the average number of folks that die each year in South Carolina alone from the regular flu. (An estimated 2,000 die from the bug annually in New York City.)

And while the swine flu appears to be headed for pandemic status, a pandemic doesn't have to be some Captain Trips-level game-ender. Nope. It just means that the bug has set up franchises around the world and the menu is in an assload of different languages. The Swine Flu: Over 1 Million Sick. And by one million, I mean 1,124 people out of a global population of nearly seven billion.

But the second the swine gods tricked Robin Meade and Shepard Smith into saying "pandemic," well, everybody and his brother starts buying surgical masks and tinkling just a little bit in their britches anytime somebody sneezes. The swine gods smile when you wet your pants. But this does not appease them.

Nor are they appeased when you shut down a high school in Mauldin, because a dozen or so kids visited Disney World and came back with a case of the sniffles. At the very least, I hope they visited the Mexico section of Epcot because if not, that's the single lamest thing since, well, freaking Epcot.

Nor are they when you go seeking a swine flu victim in your metro area, devote a substantial bit of newspaper real estate to his or her tale, and then a few days later completely erase any mention of that person from the article. As anybody in the media knows, thanks to Google cache, all of our embarrassments can return to life, even after we've whacked that mistake in the head with a shovel and buried it in the backyard.

Nor are they when you start spouting off Alex Jones-level conspiracy gibberish on your talk show, claiming that Muslim terrorists journeyed to Mexico to drop off the swine flu so that illegal aliens would then bring the deadly disease into the United States. Only speed-freaking paint huffers spout that kind of crap and do it with a straight, albeit twitchy face.

Truth be told, the only thing that really works is ritual sacrifice. Again and again and again. And that's what I've done. You can thank me later when all of this hogsteria has quieted down.

Not that you need to. Tomorrow morning, I will eat bacon, and that's reward enough. I might even head up to Moose's BBQ in the afternoon. Suey.


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