Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s on Writing, which is coming to you live from my bed. Wait, it gets sexier. The reason I am writing from bed is because I am a snotty, achey and feverish mess. This is probably why I have received no accolades from Publisher’s Weekly or Writer’s Digest this week, or even from The Master of Horror® Stephen King — which is surprising considering this terrifying subject matter.
Which isn’t to say this week’s NWOW has gone completely unnoticed. The CDC in Atlanta has issued a warning to all readers of this blog to “immediately slather yourselves and this monitor with sanitizer before continuing.” And by “before continuing,” I’m assuming they mean with what you’re reading.
If you’re continuing with anything other than that, I really don’t want to know.
By this point you’ve undoubtedly realized that my fever, combined with heavy flu medication, is keeping me from maintaining any real focus. Which brings me to today’s NWOW topic:
Write what you know.
Following that train of thought, the only thing I know right now is that mucus is gross, and we can all apparently expect a lot more of it in the coming weeks thanks to a potential shortage of vaccinations and medicine. That said, please consider this week’s NWOW an example of how dangerous it can be when a highly medicated, feverish columnist is allowed access to his blog after reading the latest news reports — the result of which has led me to reach the following decision:
Today, in an unprecedented move, I am joining hundreds of other columnists around the nation who will be addressing the flu vaccination crisis while simultaneously wiping “Influenza blowback” from their computer monitors. For those unfamiliar with this term, here’s how it might be used on an episode of CSI:
“Well, judging from the chew marks on this Robitussin safety cap, and the presence of oozing and gelatinous Influenza blowback on his computer monitor, I’d say our suspect has the flu. [Cut to lightening-quick journey through mucus-filled nasal cavity]. Chances are, he’s still in the area. Maybe even in this very room.”
“Gesundheit. By the way, which investigation team did you say you’re from?”
“The nation’s supply of facial tissue has become dangerously low,” warned Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. “If we’re not careful, many Americans will be left using standard bathroom tissue during the peak of flu season.”
This warning prompted an emergency meeting on Capitol Hill where top health officials were questioned about the oversight. However, the session was unexpectedly cut short when committee members were forced to evacuate after Senator John McCain sneezed repeatedly before finishing with a “Yaaa-HOOO!” A photographer who was seated directly in front of the senator is reported to be in stable condition at a nearby psychiatric hospital.
According to health officials, the current crisis began when Chinese regulators unexpectedly shut down tissue manufacturer Bung Corp. last Tuesday after it was discovered that millions of boxes bound for the U.S. had been printed without the necessary safety instructions required by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
America’s ambassador to China Max Baucus was immediately dispatched to the factory, where he demonstrated — before a panel of regulators — that he was indeed capable of using the tissue without any instruction or injuries. In spite of multiple demonstrations, including one in which Baucus, bound by Chinese finger cuffs, was forced to blow his nose with the help of a blindfolded aid, Chinese regulators remained unconvinced.
As a result, 43 million boxes of tissue once bound for the U.S. has been shipped to France where, according to one French official, “It will be stuffed into jackets and used as body armor.”
Faced with the impending shortage, the CDC introduced a nationwide “voluntary rationing” system yesterday to ensure that supplies of tissue would meet the needs of high-risk users in the months ahead.
“The bottom line is, don’t blow your nose until absolutely necessary,” advised Dr. Frieden. “This is a time of crisis. I think, as Americans, we should all be willing to overlook a few snot bubbles.”
As a responsible member of the media, I plan to do my part by blowing my nose as little as possible until this crisis passes. For those of you planning to attend any of my speaking engagements in the near future, let me apologize in advance to anyone seated in the front row.
In the meantime, you know where to find me. But if I were you, I wouldn’t want to.
Stay well, everyone…