This whole Ebola thing has me really afraid. Not afraid that I’ll get Ebola, or that mankind will be wiped out by Ebola, but afraid that I’m missing out on a Category 5 media frenzy. I just got back from the gym, where the TVs are locked on cable news, and for a solid hour there was nothing but Ebola talk. The only escape was ESPN, and even there I feel like we’re about two days away from a Pardon the Interruption segment called “Ebola: What Did the NFL Know, and When?”

Naturally, I want to get in on this action. I studied up on Ebola so I could write a levelheaded, rational assessment to help you understand the myths and realities of this virus. Enough with the hysteria. Really, the only reason to even keep reading this is if you want to live. No big deal.

First of all, there’s been a lot of confusion about what Ebola is. The news segments inevitably show a graphic of what looks like a big piece of string. Is Ebola a big piece of string? No. That image is magnified as much as five times. Real Ebola is more like a small piece of string, no larger than a shoelace. Luckily I wear Velcro shoes, so there’s no danger of me getting confused with “Here’s the rabbit, here’s the great big tree, here’s blood coming out of my eyes because that’s Ebola, not a shoelace.” My footwear roster also includes a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, but that has nothing to do with Ebola and everything to do with looking good.

Now that you know how to identify Ebola, you need to know how it’s transmitted. Let’s dispel the myth that you can catch Ebola from a toilet seat—no, you can’t. It’s not like crabs. Ebola is actually hard to catch, like a bus when you’re running late. Although once you’re on a bus, then it’s really easy to catch.

Keep that in mind when you’re on the No. 9 and the guy next to you is coughing—coughing is a primary symptom. Bleeding out the rectum is another, so try to inconspicuously ascertain if anyone’s doing that. If you identify a passenger with that particular symptom, yell “Quarantine!” and build a makeshift wall out of coats and handbags. Do not listen if he or she attributes the condition to “a bad case of the Mondays.”

We’re just playing it safe. Luckily, we’re still at the stage where far more people think they have Ebola than actually do. With Ebola, it’s not “He who denied it is the one who supplied it.” More like “He who did boast it does not really host it.” So if you develop nausea and diarrhea, don’t tell anybody. You’ll only look foolish when it turns out you just have salmonella, and at any rate, you don’t want to get uninvited from the office apple-bobbing contest. If a co-worker in the next stall hears you throwing up, just say you were watching Debra Messing’s new show, The Mysteries of Laura. They’ll understand.

Now, with Halloween coming up, you’ll probably want to know whether Ebola-themed costumes are fair game. I’d say it depends. You could go the biohazard-suit route, and then if someone takes offense you can just say you’re Walter White from Breaking Bad. But Ebola is a tough sell for Halloween because Halloween is the sexiest holiday of the year, and Ebola is frankly not that sexy. But the flu? That’s a different story. Go the flu route and you can be a sexy CVS Minute Clinic pharmacist and give people their shots, by which I mean tequila. Next patient. Rowwwwrrrrr.

Once the Halloween parties have wrapped up, it might be a good time to take that vacation you’ve been thinking about. No, not the one to Liberia, the one to rural Montana, where there are .002 humans per square mile. “Ain’t No Ebola Here,” as it says on the license plates. But if you can’t go somewhere till the heat dies down, I’d recommend a few common-sense guidelines to stay safe.

Hold your breath in elevators. Don’t share chewing gum with strangers. Avoid blood oaths. Don’t leave the house. Boil all your clothes. Stop vaping with your cab driver. Refrain from wrestling at the sweat lodge. When you’re on a plane in an emergency and the oxygen masks come down, wipe yours off with hand sanitizer before putting it on and tweeting a photo of yourself. This is all easy stuff that anyone can do.

In the meantime, remember: This isn’t swine flu, or bird flu, or mad cow disease, or hoof and mouth disease, or SARS. It’s Ebola, which is newer and capitalized—that’s Mister Ebola to you. Now get back behind that pile of coats. You’re in quarantine.

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