You've seen the signs offering flu shots and thought: Already?

Yes. Any other questions?

Q Yeah. I got one last year. Do I need another?

A No. Because you are dumb, and deserve to learn your lesson the hard way. YES, OF COURSE you need another! Flu mutates. Every year it undergoes a subtle genetic redesign, like the instrument panel of a Ford Yukon -- the rest of the vehicle may be the same as last year, but the radio buttons are slightly more oval.

Q So I have to drive a Yukon to get the shot?

A Sigh. Once again: Because it is evil, the flu adopts a new disguise so your antibodies won't recognize it. They're looking for a guy with a beard; this year the flu is clean-shaven. Think of the shot as an updated suspect description.

Q What if this year's flu robbed a bank? Wouldn't it be identified by the exploded dye pack?

A I give up with you. Go away. Now, if the flu really mutated, it would be much more interesting. Say this year's flu produced high fevers, plaid rashes, lemon-scented breath and the belief that one is Chester A. Arthur, 21st president of the United States. I'd skip the shot just to see what that was like. It would also be easier to avoid the flu; if your co-worker started looking a little plaid, you'd know to keep your distance.

Q What's the difference between the nasal spray and the shot?

A The spray feels like a snake sneezed venom up your nose. The shot feels like it bit you.

Q Where should I get one?

A Up to you. I don't like to get them at grocery stores. Hey, Bob, stop unloading cantaloupes and give this guy the needle, will ya? And wash your hands first this time.

Gas stations are next, I suppose, but it's hard not to imagine someone with a big sloshing pail of vaccine like they use for window-washing fluid. At least it would be pump-side service, which is rare. Check your oil? Fill your tank? Introduce weakened pathogens into your bloodstream? Yes, sir!

You can get one at a discount retailer, but be warned: If this year's flu is particularly bad, and the vaccine is made by Missoni, the first person in line will take 20 shots and sell their blood on eBay. • 612-673-7858 More daily at