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Lee Capristo
Director of Publications
Email: lwcapristo@smcm.edu
Phone:240-895-4795
Anne Arundel 100

Taking No Stock in Dead People I Never Knowed

Written by Shelby Louise Lawson ’14

First-year student Shelby Lawson's essay won the Twain contest. Photo by Barbara Williams

EDITOR’S NOTE: Shelby Lawson, of Edgewater, Maryland, was one of three winners of a contest for first-year students to write an essay inspired by Mark Twain’s writing. Lawson chose to write about a modern-day event, swine flu, in the voice of Huck Finn.

I been hearin' talk bout how that swine flu crisis or such has ended. Why, if I never did heard such nonsense as swine flu. My pa had slept with the hogs in the tanyard plenty of time, and ain’t never once got no disease from it. But sciency folk say it’s a crisis, on account of so many people are dying cause of it. I even heard that at a time, the World Health Organ’zation talked ‘bout the flu so that it’d sound more dangerous. Then, people’d be more afeard, and they’d get that new vaccine for swine flu.

To me, there ain’t so sense in vaccines. Having to shove up money to get the virus put right in ya. Its foolishness. I druther face the disease m’self. Fellows say nineteen thousand or so had dropped dead cause of that swine flu. ‘Mazing a number as it is, officials think it’d coulda been a whole lot worse. But I don’t really take no stock in dead people I never knowed.

I was learned that this here flu is gotten from a person to the next by co’fing, sneezing, touching stuff, and kissing. Why any girl would wanna kiss a sick feller with a dang’rous disease I hadn’t got a clue. But whatever the reason, this’in disease been spreading like fire round the country for ‘bout a year now. Wasn’t till few days back that it ended.

Least now them doctors have those new medicines to help folks who was infected. I wish we had those back when me and Jim was travelin’ down the Mississippi. They’d helped when Jim was bit by that rattlesnake. But it ain’t no matter now. What’s amatter now is many people is afeard of the flu next year. Sciency people say when the flu goes back inta a hog, it changes 'round. It ain’t much danger to the pig, but if the farmer isn’t wise to the flu, and he gets it from it, then it b’comes even wurse than before. So if the flu changes and such next year, it can lead to anuther ep’demic. What’s extra scary is that swine flu’s not the only disease commin’ from animuls. There’s lots of bird flues, a horse flu, and even flues from cats and dogs.

But they is prevented if people wash their hands and don’t touch their eyes and noses and such. But I don’t see no sense in that. If you is itching ‘round those parts, how you not gonna touch them? But they says its all in safety and pr’vention. You gotta stay away from those who is sick, and always try an’ stay clean, and go up to the doctors often, and wear masks so nobody breathes in the disease, and other rules too, but they don’t interest me much. Shucks, it seems there be more rules for not getting swine flu than there be rules at the Widow's house for being all proper and whatnot!

But that’s all how this modern soci’ty is. All rules and laws to keep folks safe and sivilized. But see now imma getting off topic. All that really is needing to be said is swine flu was a’scaring the people in the country for a good time, but now that it’s over, instead of rejoicing, people is already worrying 'bout next year.

People these days is always worried 'bout getting sick or hurt or dying of somethin, when they should be just relaxing and enjoying ev’ry day of life. You can’t predict when you’re gonna die, but you can a’make sure that ev’ry day till then is spent good and wise. But maybe that’s just me talkin all carefree and…what’s the widow call it?...irrespons’ble I think.