I got a flu shot.
I'm not bragging, just stating a fact -- maybe in a slightly bragging way.
I'm entitled to feel a little superior, because a) flu shot season is just beginning, and look at me, and b) I haven't gotten a flu shot since I don't know when.
I have no good reason for letting years slip by between flu shots. I do have several below-average reasons, though. The first is, when I got my last flu shot (and by "last" I mean "only other"), the nurse plunged the needle so far into my arm I expected the tip to come out the other side and get stuck in my rib cage.
"Come on, that didn't hurt," the nurse said. She must have meant it didn't hurt her, because it hurt one of us, and I was the one on the pointy end of the syringe. I'll concede that other things hurt more -- stubbed toes, paper cuts, that one sensitive tooth -- but the bottom line is, the shot-giver isn't allowed to assess the pain of the shot-getter. That's a law of nature, like not letting your sister take two turns in a row.
After the inoculation, the nurse sent me back to the waiting room. Some people have reactions to the shot, she said, and they wanted to keep an eye on me in case I was one of them.
Curious -- would I topple off my chair still clutching a copy of Martha Stewart Living? -- I took a seat in the otherwise empty room. In the age of smartphones, of course, an order to sit for a half-hour is a chance to watch baby-goat videos without guilt. Even people with demanding jobs might linger until the after-hours cleaning crew kicks them out.
But this was before phones eradicated boredom, the fidgets and our work ethic in one technological hat trick. Four minutes into my medical timeout, when I hadn't collapsed or felt funny, I left. No one tried to stop me or even noticed my departure. So much for keeping an eye on me.
I will note, in fairness, that I didn't have the flu that year. I didn't have it the year before or the year after, either. I've had full-throttle flu only twice in my adult life: when my 5-year-old daughter and I were sick at the same time, during the week she was to start kindergarten, giving her the distinction of entering kindergarten a week later as "the new kid"; and about 20 years ago, 12 hours after I visited the Arnold Sports Festival. The crush of sports enthusiasts in the aisles between the exhibitors' booths was so dense, a person could have walked from one end of the room to the other on peoples' heads.
I remember nothing about the exhibits, but I do recall my nose all but touching the nape of the stranger in front of me, and I could feel on my own neck the breath of the person behind me. Germs never had it so good.
But that was years ago. I've become cocky about my failure to run a fever; I actually brag about not throwing up for more than 40 years. (As sick as I was on the occasions just described, vomiting wasn't among my symptoms, though I recall ardently wishing it was.)
If right now you think I'm asking for it, I agree. I'm the picture of overconfidence. I'm begging for comeuppance.
In fact, that's probably why I finally offered a deltoid to the nurse, who swabbed and stuck almost in one motion, no doubt thinking I might change my mind.
Also, I've stopped boasting about never getting sick. Instead, I'm boasting about my flu-shot record. It's up to two already.
Not bragging, just stating a fact.
Write to Margo Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.