Jeff Vrabel: It's not swine flu that's going to kill us

Jeff Vrabel

If you are reading this, the odds are slightly higher than average that you have not died horribly from swine flu.


And kudos to you, because you are supposed to be, like, 10 kinds of super-dead.

You were supposed to have died of swine flu if you had ever visited New York City, or thought much about it. You were supposed to have succumbed to its pigly horrors if you had ever taken the 11 a.m. to LaGuardia with Joe Biden. If there were more than 12 consecutive seconds in which you hadn't drank a teaspoon of hand sanitizer, your spine was going to start growing caterpillars. If you had looked at a piece of bacon in the last six weeks, your back was going to fall off. If you knew any Mexicans, well, Katie bar the door, it's a wonder your eyes aren't still leaking slime.

Swine flu, you were told over and over again depending on how often you found yourself in the company of Rick Sanchez, was basically the Avada Kedavra times a million, like when Anakin Skywalker fired up his lightsaber and started whacking the little Jedi cherubs. It’s an outbreaky outbreak like the kind depicted in that movie about a terrible outbreak, though the name escapes me now.

Swine flu would grow your thumbs and shrivel your nose and bleed your 401(k) dry and make otherwise normal playoff basketball games go into ridiculous amounts of overtimes.

As long as you kept the news on, there was a sliver of a hope you'd survive, but if you for one minute turned your eyes away from the yippy blond dry-erase boards on Fox News, you'd be dead in minutes, and your family would have to explain at the funeral why you spent your last moments on Earth nearish Glenn Beck.

We in the quote-fingers humor business spent this weeklong news cycle doing two things: 1. Pretending we were Wolverines who could never catch swine flu because of the immunity powered by our sarcasm, and 2. Coming up with hilarious names for it.

My favorites were, in order, Porky's Revenge, You Never Sausage A Worldwide Flu Outbreak and, of course, Swine Flu Pandepidemic 2009: This Time It's Porksonal. My apologies to the friends and Twitter people who have spent a full week now hearing me repeat those jokes to within an inch of their lives.

Speaking of within an inch of something's life, I went to a new place for lunch last week. I'm not going to name this place because I am now going to make fun of it. But this place was an East Coast-based burger chain. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's the bee’s knees among burger folk, according to the testimonial placards that lined the parts of the walls where windows usually go. A new one had opened nearby, and some of the IT nerds at work were going to check it out, and I thought, well, what's the worst that could happen?

I am not going to tell you the worst that could happen, because that would be a story about clutching your side rolling around the ground moaning ancient Incan prayers to die, and those don't sell papers anymore.

So I'll tell you what did happen: I pushed the door to the place and it swung open about 4 inches, because a person was standing right there, because there was a person standing nearly everywhere, because the line for what I had begun to believe were magical burgers and fries, possibly grilled by Jesus, was thick and meaty.

Long story short, my meal arrived in a brown paper sack that was entirely unprepared for the challenge of containing the multitude of grease that lay within. Note that I am not blaming the burger place for this, because the only container up to such a task would have been a sink, and those are difficult to distribute to crowds.

Within the sack, of course, was a burger of humiliating proportions, followed by 4 million soggy fries. Now I'm no food critic, so all I can say about these seemingly wondrous burgers and fries was that they tasted like burgers and fries, as well as a little bit of death. I don't have the foggiest what is in these sandwiches, but I do know that it made my stomach make noises that literally made my son say, "Wow."

Listen, I'm no health-food guy. I need two hands to count the number of pulled pork sandwiches I've had in the past two weeks (yeah, do you hear me, swine flu? PULLED PORK, sucka!). But I can't imagine how many tables at this place were populated by people sucking down greaseball burgers and thinking, “My God, that swine flu is going to kill me.”

Jeff Vrabel successfully made it through SARS, anthrax, West Nile and the bird flu. He can be reached at or