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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, not Christmas.

Not Kwanzaa.

Not Chanukah (or Chanukkah or Hanukkah or Hanuka or…Channuka?).

Nothing to do with the holiday season.

I’m not even talking about bowl season.

No, I’m excited right now because we are smack dab in the middle of flu season!

Now, I don’t say this because I have any amount of love for the influenza virus (of the regular/piggy/avian variety), or flu shots (which are decidedly hurt-y and often times counter-productive), or enjoy finding out what my friends would sound like with a full jar peanut butter unapologetically crammed into their nasal cavity.

(Answer: hilarious.)

The reason I can’t wait for flu season every year is because I get to hear these three magical words…

I’m not contagious

Let me guess: someone has said this to you, too!

You’ve probably heard it from your friends, from your co-workers, and maybe even allowed these words to stumble across your very own lips a time or two.

Usually, “I’m not contagious” is prefaced with a “Don’t worry!” or “It’s okay!” or some other unconvincing form of passive-defensiveness. As in, “I may sound terrible and have Ecto Cooler gushing from all of my face-holes, but that is no reason to believe that in a few days you will also look and sound like a half-eaten zombie.”

I love the phrase because it conveys a crystal clear message — that is the exact opposite of the speaker’s intent.  When someone tells you that they are “not contagious,” they are trying to squash whatever (presumably rational) fears you may have about your being confined to the same space as a person who seems to be decomposing.

Does it ever calm those fears?

Are you ever completely (or at all) placated or think to yourself, “You know what, this person looks like a trained medical professional who has just come back from the lab and has years of training and certainly would not put me in any form of danger unless he/she was positive that I would not be harmed by their arrival at the workplace this morning and therefore I am confident in their assessment of their body’s ability to pass on a virus to a third party.”


The same message could be communicated by wearing a sandwich board that says QUARANTINED FOR LIFE.

It is for this reason that I recommend that we all add “I’m not contagious” to our list of Not Exactly Convincing Phrases (“NECP’s”).  It should be placed alongside its eye-roll-inducing brethren “I’m going to be honest with you”, “It’s not you, it’s me”, and of course our old friend, “It happens to lots of guys.”

They won’t.

It’s you.

It doesn’t, unfortunately.

If you tell me you’re not contagious, I assume the following things to be true:

  1. You believe you are contagious
  2. You feel guilty about this belief
  3. You are scared that I can sense your guilt
  4. I can sense your guilt
  5. You are contagious
  6. I am in grave danger
  7. I hate you

Let’s just all agree that no one actually knows whether or not they are contagious and that it is in our best interest — socially and otherwise — to resist the urge to make any statements that suggest knowledge of molecular biology and the relationship between the flu virus and the spread of disease.

As Abraham Lincoln almost certainly would have said, “It is better to remain silent and thought of as severely contagious than to deny it and remove all doubt.  And also, I can’t think of anything that would ruin this play at Ford’s Theater!”

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