Flu viruses are idiots, when you think about it. They thrive by transmission, infecting as many as possible. But once they get settled in, they make you feel like a chattering sack of hot bones in a meat locker, and you don't want to go out and spread the good news around. You sleep and have bizarre sheet-soaking dreams in which you lead an army of purple dolphins to conquer the moon, then wake to eat soup.

Great choice for someone shaking with the chills. Soup. Let's try to get the spoon in the mouth without flinging broth everywhere. Tenth time's the charm.

The virus would reach more people if the flu made you feel spectacular.

"Hey, Bob, you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morn; comin' down with the flu?" "Yessirree! Energy to burn and 50 new ideas came to me on the elevator ride up." "Really! Well, put 'er there, pal. Shake?"

People would follow you around, lean in when you're talking. If you coughed into the crook of your elbow you'd be seen as selfish.

It would make for cheery stories. Doctors warn: This year's strain not as giddy as last year. "We're not seeing the sort of frothy happiness we saw with the H2N6 flu; this seems to produce elevated levels of unreasonable confidence, and we're cautioning our patients, particularly the aged, to avoid the stock market and dating websites."

The outpatient clinics still would offer shots, but for different reasons. "Can you give me a vaccine, doc? Last year I got the flu and I decided to put an addition on the house by myself in the middle of January. Had it framed and Sheetrocked, but then I got over it and didn't finish it. I'm afraid that if I get the flu this year I'll be up on the roof singing show tunes, tearing off shingles."

But no. It's misery. The flu is a houseguest that wants a ride to the airport but lets the air out of the tires an hour before its flight.

No, I haven't got a shot yet. I've passed the age where you can get the nasal spray, and can't figure out why — maybe they figure, "There's too much hair up there. Hitler's army had an easier time getting through Russia." But I'll get one this week, even though that means leaving the house.

Also known as: the No. 1 reason people get the flu.