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'Tis the Sneezin'

With germs, some people are generous to a fault.

by Scott McNutt

It's Christmas time, when people share germs, the gift that keeps on giving. In the spirit of the season, I usually swap colds with coworkers. But, as a child-free person, my contribution to the office germ pool is negligible. My coworkers, however, are extremely giving with their germs. It's only fair: They have the most to give, because they have kids in school (or "Breeding Ground of Pestilence," to use the Center for Disease Control term). Supplied by the germ traffic that flows from those epidemic epicenters, parents always give at the office, early and often. In our office, one nose a-running inevitably leads to 12 coworkers a-phoning in sick.

Parents, a little prevention goes a long way. When you make your list of Christmas activities, check it twice before taking your darling Brendan to see Santa Claus. Do you really want your little angel standing in line with a bunch of flu-bearing, disease-carrying imps? And what about the Jolly Old Elf himself? Do you know where that lap has been? Please, take some standard germ-avoidance precautions, such as bathing hourly, learning to turn doorknobs with your toes, and quarantining yourselves in your homes until flu season passes. Say, around June. 2010.

Does it sound as if I welcome the arrival of this time of year like the coming of the plague? Yes? Good, I'm getting my point across. Think about it: This time of year, our society actually CELEBRATES the return of Santa Claus, the one guy who comes into contact with EVERY germ-infested child on Earth. No wonder Rudolph's nose is always red. You can leave the cookies and milk welcome mat out if you want, but I'm boarding up my chimney. Typhoid Merry Christmas presents won't be left under my antiseptic, disease-free, artificial tree!

Yes, while the typical seasonal silliness transforms the rest of the population into jolly, happy souls, indiscriminately hugging all and sundry as if December were just one long encounter-group session, I take no chances. I try to avoid contracting the holiday's usual stocking stuffers of suffering: cold, flu, fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, itchy eyes, aches, pains, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing, all contributors to the 12 sick-days of Christmas. So I withdraw even further into my curmudgeonly solitude. I don't do Christmas office parties. I don't go riding in a one-horse open sleigh. I don't go caroling. I don't come a-wassailing. Call me Grinch, call me Scrooge, call me Good King Wenceslas if you want, just so long as you don't have to call me a doctor.

I put "Do Not Disturb" signs on my office door and "No Trespassing" signs in my yard. True or false: It's perfectly okay for you to deck my halls with bows of holly, fa-la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la- FALSE! By God, I'll arrest ye, scary gentlemen, if you come any closer! Mistletoe? Makes me break out like poison ivy. Besides, you really think I'm going to let your lips caress my own germ-free ones? 'Cause that tickle in your nostrils isn't Jack Frost nipping at your nose—it's a virus, insinuating itself into your sinuses, settling in as a long winter's guest. Yep, you're already infected. That jingling you hear? It's pharmaceutical companies ringing in the new year with their cash registers, full of your silver and gold.

Of course, if the germs don't get you, stress will. With all the vying, buying, and flying, the hustling, bustling, and tussling, the hurrying, scurrying, and worrying, not to mention the gaping maws and reddened schnozzes of the in-laws, I don't understand how people can still call this "the most wonderful time of the year." Wonderful for masochists, maybe. You truly want to bring joy to the world? Then join me in a chorus of "O Little Tab of Valium." In other words, just chill, dudes and dudesses.

Really, if you have good will toward men, then relax and stay home this holiday season. If everyone would do that, we'd have peace on Earth. (Until the arguments start over who's #1 in college football, anyway.) Failing that, I offer up this prayer of hope: If Jesus does return at the beginning of this new millennium, I pray he brings lots of tissues. God bless us, every one! Achoo.

December 14, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 50
© 2000 Metro Pulse