What? Me Worry?

June 2006 - Anybody remember a band called The Smiths? Led by the now solo Morrissey, The Smiths were big in Britain during the mid Eighties. One of their hits was "Ask," in which we're given the either/or choice of love/the bomb. The group's final album, Strangeways, Here We Come, includes a song called "Girlfriend in a Coma." It's a bouncy tune with a chorus that goes: Girlfriend in a coma/I know, I know/It's serious.

So, why bring this up? Well, it all has to do with bird flu. In particular, a strain called influenza A (H5N1). It's a possible pandemic. I know, I know. It's serious. But, like the singer of the song, I just can't get all worked up about it.

Don't get me wrong. The hype is out there. About a month ago, the Bush administration gave some kind of dire warning about what could happen in a worst-case, bird flu in America scenario. I think the gist of it was that millions of people will die and the rest of us will start making fashion statements with the hospital-type masks that we'll all be forced to wear if we want to live.

And, just in case the government didn't scare you enough, network TV made sure to finish the job. On May 9th, ABC aired a movie called Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America. News releases described the plot as what happens when an American businessman travels to Asia and flies home with a nasty case of bird flu. The promo for the movie featured chaos in the streets and characters speaking lines such as "20 million will die" and "there’s no hope." Even the title is scary. After all, if something is "fatal," it WILL kill you. If it were merely "deadly," you might have a chance at survival. But, judging by the title of the movie, if you get bird flu, you're toast.

Never mind that bird flu has not hit the US yet. In fact, in countries where bird flu has hit, there have been very few reported cases of H5N1 being passed from person to person. But, if and when bird flu hits here, it's good to know that a lot of people will be good and scared.

Apparently, some of them already are. One night at work, I answered a call from a man who saw the promo for Fatal Contact. He thought that at 8 pm/7 Central on May 9th the government would announce that bird flu is here. No, I said, it's just a promo for a TV movie. There's no bird flu here; nothing to worry about. Just to be sure, he asked me if I was sure. I'm sure, I reassured him. No worries. Then he said, "But, I'm handicapped." And? I wasn't sure what to say. But, if I were that guy, I'd get while the gettin's good! Just to be on the safe side.