This is the time of year for flu dropping. Since nearly everyone has had the flu, the object of the game is to impress on the other person that your flu was worse than theirs.

The opening:

"I had the flu in October. I think I was the first one in Silver Spring to get it."

The parry:

"Was it the Virus B Singapore strain, or last year's Hong Kong variety?"

"My doctor thinks the bug came from Kuala Lumpur via the Khyber Pass."

The thrust:

"Oh, yes, my cleaning woman had that. She claims to have been in bed for two days, but it wouldn't surprise me if she wanted some time off."

The art of flu dropping is becoming very sophisticated. The scoring depends on:

1 -- How one contracted it.

2 -- The length of time one had it.

3 -- The amount of suffering involved (having had intestinal flu as opposed to the chest kind is worth more points).

Let us deal with some concrete illustrations.

"I've had the flu before, but this little devil stays on and on. It's been six weeks now." (5 points)

"My brother had it for three months. He used up 33 boxes of Kleenex." (8 points)

" i was so sick I couldn't even go to the Pavarotti recital." (10 points)

"I had to cancel a trip to Hawaii" (10 points). "Then my wife got it and we gave up our tickets to the Super Bowl." (10 points)

"I've never been sick in my life" (2 points). "But I went to the Jockey Club for dinner. Elizabeth Taylor and John Warner were at the next table, and he was telling her to keep her mouth shut when he was making a political speech, and she was coughing and sneezing, and I swear I must have got the bug from her." (15 points)

"I think I got mine on the Concorde. I was seated next to Bo Derek and she kept talking to me the whole trip. Well, a week later Rona Barrett revealed on the "Good Morning, America" show that Bo had the flu, and I put two and two together." (12 points)

"What did your doctor say?"

"He said on the phone to stay in bed and drink plenty of fluids and take aspirin." (no points)

"Mine came to the house and stayed 15 minutes. He even took out his stethoscope and listened to my chest." (20 points)

"What did he tell you to do?"

"Stay in bed, drink plenty of liquids and take aspirin."

"What did you say to him?"

"I said I wanted a second opnion." (Game's over.)