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Sailing with Charlie: Swine Flu

All of a sudden the news is full of it. People are dropping like flies. “It’s likely to become a pandemic.” Charlie knew the word epidemic but pandemic sounded worse. He looked it up in the dictionary and it says “prevalent… over the whole world.” So by the time you read this you may well be dead – there’s no known cure! Presumably outer space is immune so heaven will be safe. And in hell, a bout of flu, even Swine Flu, would hardly make a dent in your discomfort level as you burn in flames for eternity.

Not long ago Bird Flu was to be the scourge of humanity and Charlie took it very seriously, not being certain that he would be rewarded with heaven in the afterlife. He hauled out his boat and painted three thick coats of anti-fowl on the bottom. Then he got some old sails and painted them too and wrapped his whole boat, cocoon-style, with the protective layer. Not a bird, a bird virus or even a frozen chicken could make it on board. It worked! He didn’t contract even as much as a sniffle.

But what could you do to prevent Swine Flu? He researched the internet for ‘anti-swine paint’ but came up with nothing. He found a subject on pork barrel spending by the US government. One item that had been awarded millions was: “Effects of cow flatulence.” Could this be useful? No, he decided. Everywhere he looked people were buying protective breathing masks, oxygen producing apparatus or wearing mouth-covering scarves. After an hour of racking his brains to find a solution he went to the bar for refreshments. Then, during a visit to the toilet, behind a closed door in the sit-down section, he heard an unmistakable “oink, oink, oink.” Some guy was having a coughing fit in pig language. It was a dead giveaway – Swine Flu had reached the islands. Charlie immediately grabbed his favorite girlfriend, stocked his boat for a three month’s cruise in the Caribbean and next day he was sailing away.

As I helped him untie his lines I asked him where he was going. “Straight to the middle of the Caribbean Basin and I’m heaving to for a month,” he replied. “I’ll keep track of events on the radio. When Armageddon’s over we may be responsible for repopulating the world.” His favorite girlfriend gave him a loving smile and cuddled up close. She was ready to start practicing right away.

Julian Putley is the author of “The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI,” “Sunfun Calypso,” and a new sequel, “Sunfun Gospel.”

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