Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Little Prick Sends Me to the Hospital

I AM, AT HEART, a frustrated comedian. Shy of the stage and the potential catcalls from the pit, I have never attempted to entertain a live audience with what, in a talented person, might pass as wit. But I do occasionally craft a good line. And when I do, if the time is not ripe for delivery, I will file it away. I save it, and wait, patiently and over years if necessary.

Case in point. Through a friend, I met a woman who worked at a tissue bank. At the time, she was primarily engaged in harvesting skin. A line formed in my head after we parted, and I stored it carefully. When I met her next, I immediately asked her, "So how's life in the skin trade?"

Yes, this is what killed vaudeville. Well, that and television.

As has been much trumpeted, we are in cold and flu season. The latter concerns me more than the former, because whereas a cold will cost me at most two days of work and productivity, the flu will take out a good five. I can't afford that. And even if I could, I have no real desire to feel that miserable for a week. So I have been getting flu shots for the past several years.

Last year I had to wait on the sidelines because someone pulled a Kramer on the vaccine samples and dropped a Junior Mint or something in the mix. This year, however, I was determined to visit the doctor before my trip to Las Vegas and get immunized.

And that's how the line developed.

I'd never actually use it. No sense in angering a man who has access to scalpels. But I thought of it shortly after I was denied a shot last year, through no fault of my harried and therefore slightly perfunctory primary care physician. And it went into a pigeon hole like a piece of mail in a 1930s hotel.

In my mind's eye, I saw myself sitting on the white paper in the office, looking up to greet him as he entered. He would say, "So you're here for a flu shot, huh?"

And I would rejoin, "Yeah, I needed a little prick, and I thought of you!"

And sure as dawn follows night, that little prick would put me in the hospital.

Of course, this never happened. What really happened is that, on the timely prompting of my parents, I took advantage of an open, sans-appointment flu-shot clinic that my local hospital presented this evening. I bailed early on work to get a jump on any potential line, and got there a little after 5:00 . . . only to find no line whatsoever. This was in stark contrast to the monstrous line that snaked around the Shop Rite offering shots back in 2004, where my parents waited for hours for a simple 15-second inoculation procedure. Not this time. In, out, 10 minutes, $25, done. Didn't even have to feed the toll gate to escape the parking lot.

So knowing my luck, I will dodge the flu, only to get tuberculosis from the airline pillow on the way out to Vegas. Call me a month from now and I'll cough you up a nice mushroom.

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