It’s comfort food week on Mt. Otis. I made an old school taco salad last night–really traditional, uninventive, and awesome beyond words. Near the end of the prep work, I almost went avant-garde. I spied some center-cut bacon in the meat drawer. God, I love bacon.
I screamed, peed in my pants a little, and put a painter’s mask over my ten-year-old half-blind mutt (the boy is smart enough to fend for himself).
You, of course, understand the reason for my fear. It’s all over the internet. Just look at any recipe. Bacon has no place in a traditional taco salad.
Oh, the other thing?
Listen, I just spent a week in Argentina. Most of the people in that part of the word greet with a kiss (one cheek almost everywhere, except for the people from Rio who kiss on two, because they are sexier). My time in South America was spent around more than a few Mexicans. I probably kissed some guy named Christian at one point or another. There was a lot of drinking on the last night.
I should also mention, I’ve been sick ever since. It’s a good ol’ respiratory thing that I can’t shake. If it’s the Swine Flu, I’ll eat my dog’s painter’s mask. I’ve got Casino Cough pure and simple.
I joked for a couple of days before a friend told me it was now too serious a subject to use for comedic purposes. I didn’t buy that necessarily, but after what I read this morning, it’s clear we’ve crossed a line.
The pork industry is now lobbying for us to remove the word “swine” from the description. The marketing departments fear it’s going to hurt pork sales. Government officials are tripping over themselves to use the words “H1N1 virus” instead.
Israel is doing them one better. They’re calling it the “Mexico Flu.” That is going to make things really awkward at the next United Nations cocktail party. Frankly, I think the folks from Israel would be better off keeping “swine” in the name, so when someone over there eats a pork chop and catches the inevitable cold, the pious can say, “See, told you so!” In this case, it’s only going to keep the Jews from eating Mexicans, which probably wasn’t going to happen under this brand of apocalypse, anyway. Probably.
I don’t mean to be glib, but I guess I’m just not so worried about the flu or what we call it. Tens of thousands of people die from the flu in the United States every year. It’s the among the top causes for death annually. Imagine if we had the same kind of panic over cancer. “Have you heard of the Mexican cancer? I’m keeping the boy home from school. There is a kid named Jose who brings tamales in his lunch box.”
Me? I ate Mexican food for dinner last weekend. I made my taco salad last night. And I probably kissed a Mexican guy in Argentina (let’s just stop brining that up).
Should we all cough into our sleeve? Sure. Keep washing our hands? Yeah, even when the Swine Flu panic subsides. Stop kissing Mexican guys? I’ll leave that one up to you, but, let’s be adults about this. There’s a pork industry at stake here, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay more for bacon just because your aunt Hilda stops buying enough pork and causes the industry to collapse.
The unsettling part about it all? This is exactly how a population culling pandemic is going to happen. Be it zombies or chicken measle gonorrhea, the next big apocalypse will begin with a bunch of people panicking, a bunch of media hype, and a bunch of people like me joking about it. Next thing you know, we’re all going to be dead or wishing we were.
At least we don’t have to worry about anything like nukes, terrorism, domestic crazies, a failing economy, or global climate change. That stuff would be scary.