Telling a small child they’re going to get a flu shot is a lot like saying the word “vet” to a dog. There’ll be a yelp followed by a mad dash from the room and a call from the neighbor asking why your kid is hiding behind their couch. Why can’t shots be easy, like those space inoculations on “Star Trek”? Just one “Pssshht” and it’s painlessly over.

The secret to getting a child into a car just so they can be jabbed with a needle is simple – lie to them. Lie like the Mob is after you. No, Mr. Stabliani, I did not witness one of your associates dump a body in the river. He was only fishing.

Fortunately, in this modern world where anything is available at any given time, getting a flu shot is as easy as ordering a chainsaw and a box of Hamburger Helper from Amazon.* No more back-alley flu shots for the Offutt family. Sorry, Doctr Flu-zee (it was written like that on the van), we’re taking our business to the grocery store.

Grocery stores are beautiful places. The have fresh food, frozen food, free samples of prepared food, booze, ice cream, dry cleaning, flowers, postage stamps, back-to-school supplies, toothpaste, and, apparently, flu shots.

“Hey, kids,” my wife said to our three children who have become suspicious of their mother and me; and for good reason. “We’re going to the grocery store.”

“Why?” the older ones asked in skeptical unison.

“You’re getting flu shots,” she said out of the corner of her mouth. “Don’t tell her.” She nodded toward the 4-year-old.


“Ix-nay on the u-flay ot-shay,” I told them. I figured I should be some help. The 4-year-old looked at me.

“Whas flu shots?” she asked.

I tried.

“We’re getting cookies,” my wife said and we all went out to the car.

Our grocery store gives free cookies to children to keep them happy while their parents shop. Our daughter likes that. A polite grocery store employee recently attempted to give her a banana instead of a cookie and her response made me realize I need to watch my mouth around the children.

Of course, only one of our kids was old enough to get the grocery store shot (and 20 cents off every gallon of gas), so we were off to the hospital.

Hospitals are big brick buildings that can’t be disguised, even to a 4-year-old.

“You’re costing us 20 cents off every gallon of gas,” my wife and I didn’t say to the other two children. What we did say in a hushed whisper was, “the hospital doesn’t have cookies.”

Medical science, we discovered, is just as cool as our grocery store.

“Do you want the shot or the mist?” the kindly nurse said.

“Canadian Mist?” I asked. If they served drinks at the hospital, the 60 percent of men who avoid doctors may change their mind.

“No. It’s a mist. Just squirt it up each nostril and ...” She sniffed. “... we’re done.”

That’s it? Bless you “Star Trek.” Now we just need to solve that cookie problem.

*A Remington Outlaw 46cc two-cycle 20-inch gas powered chainsaw and a box of Hamburger Helper run $165.86 before shipping.

– Jason’s newest novel, “Bad Day for a Road Trip,” is available at