Love in the Age of Flu

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I've got the flu. There's little doubt now. As I explained to a large and wonderfully respectful audience just a few nights ago, I have the east coast flu, and I must have caught it on the plane home, or maybe from someone at Duke University in North Carolina where I was playing, and it was most likely incubated and/or exacerbated by the sight of too many Confederate flags.

That struck them as funny - and it was meant to - but it's an awfully sad sight to see those flags still flying, here and there, around areas in the Southern USA. You won't see that in Detroit. Or in San Francisco. It's a slap in the face for me and for anyone who believes in equality and freedom and justice. No one has been able to explain adequately to me why it might be deemed "okay" to fly that flag.

I've heard the arguments in the defense of the Confederate flag: that it constitutes a part of our history as Americans. But considering the price we paid in WWII, I think that the same could be said for the Nazi flag.

It's a bad thing. Get rid of it. It serves no one. It does not raise us, it does not heal us, it does not bring us up. It keeps us down. Get rid of it.


Having the flu is like being very old. I'm only 60. I feel like Methuselah today.

Sometimes Rodney Dangerfield's jokes about aging ring in my head: "Being old is like always having the flu." And this one, my favorite: "I felt lousy so I went to my doctor and he asked me how old I was and I said 70 and he said 'get used to it. At your age you're never going to feel any better.'"

Poor Rodney. No respect!

I remember a time when the flu was fun. You drank chicken broth. You were waited on hand and foot by Mom. You got to watch Gilligan's Island and Green Acres all day long. Not the re-runs, the originals. If you were really lucky, you got to take that cough syrup that made you kind of buzzed. It had some form of opiate in it, I think. And you could eat all the ice cream and drink all of the Coke you wanted!

This was back when Coca-Cola still had a tiny bit of cocaine in it.

Honest. Many people think I'm fibbing about this. The stimulant mixed in the beverage Coca-Cola was coca leaves from South America, from which the drug cocaine is derived. In addition, the drink was flavored using kola nuts, thus acting as the beverage's source of caffeine. Look it upnew window!

Just so's you know, things were really different back then!

I would just lay back, getting time off from that dreaded school, watch TV (no wide-screen HD back then... and no color!) and drink Coke and eat ice cream and sip hot soup - and in three days the flu was gone!

Now we have Super-flu and Avian flu and Killer flu and Kung flu. We have flus that will leave you deaf or blind. Or both. We have flu that was initially cultured in a defense department lab experiment that went awry, and that somehow was released into the general population accidentally. Yeah, right. We have flu that lasts for six months. And friends, the worst part of it all is:

These new flus make you feel LOUSY! And there's NOTHING you can do about it.

You just lie there in bed, not coughing much, not sniffling much, not doing much of anything except suffering. And just try to alleviate that suffering by watching Gilligan's Island re-runs. Hello!!! They don't work anymore. They're no longer relevant!

Fifty years ago, when you had the flu, you could laugh at Ricky saying to Lucy, "Luuuucy, dunt even think it!" In one episode, Ricky told Fred Mertz that Lucy needed a "Fizakeeatrist". While he was trying unsuccessfully to locate one in the phone directory, Fred advised him to look under the "p's" (for "psychiatrist") and Ricky could only stare at Fred in amazement. "Fizakeeatrist? Under P?!?"

Now, we're stuck with Friends. And Hannity and Colmes. And, as much as I admire Lou Dobbsnew window, he's the last guy you want to watch when you feel ill.

He'll make you suicidal!