Our culture’s interest in all things zombie – The Walking Dead series on AMC, zombie movies, zombie apocalypse enthusiasts – is puzzling. The creatures are, after all, nothing new, having been described in countless novels and horror films for decades. So why they’re enjoying such popularity now eludes me.
Even if you enjoy monster flicks, it’s not as if these folks have qualities you can connect with. Frankenstein’s creature had a certain child-likeness which made you feel downright protective of him. Dracula was debonair. The Phantom of the Opera had talent. But zombies? Their very nature makes them inaccessible, displaying little you can relate to. They don’t speak, feel or emote, so while I admit the ghouls in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video were fun, there’s still a clear limit to a zombie’s charm, even a dancing one.
All of which comes to mind because, while packing up our Christmas ornaments this weekend, I remembered how a few years back, during another holiday season, I read in our local paper that our city had been blessed with zombie carolers. I hardly believed it, but the photos showed them shuffling through our lovely old historic plaza, blood dripping from rotting flesh as they sing good tidings.
Which reminded me yet again that I am unquestionably too old for this world, because I couldn’t begin to guess why zombies would care to sing, who would care to listen, or which selections they’d perform. Picture “O Holy Night” performed by The Walking Dead Madrigals, and you just gotta say “Huh?”
They’re lifeless, and I’m not judging. I’m just observing. Yet somehow thinking of the way I view them makes me wonder how my wife of nearly thirty years views me, and whether I, as a husband, might not unwillingly share some of
For starters, Renee says I grunt. I can neither confirm nor deny this, since she says I do it right after waking up, a daily period I’m unable to remember or take any responsibility for. She complains that she’ll ask me questions and get a grunt in response. Then, when protesting that she can’t hear me, she gets a louder grunt, so maybe my zombie brethren and I share some common ground there.
Wives, like all people, deserve to be heard and responded to.
Then there’s the un-dead shuffle, something I am aware of because my wife and sons have repeatedly mimicked me creaking down the stairs in the morning, eyes half closed, boxers rumpled, body jerking back and forth, hair spiked in all directions. I’ll skip what they’ve said about my breath, which evidently rivals The Exorcist in horror, but I get the point.
This year I am seriously committed to more concern for my grooming. My wife deserves a husband who takes time to present himself in a way that’s presentable.
Zoned out is another zombie sin, one I attribute to too many ‘to-do’s’ on the list, leaving me pre-occupied in one world while in the other, my poor wife, who’s just been telling me something important and getting the blank stare in response, is fond of saying “Hello? Am I addressing the living?”
I’m also awfully predictable. Just like my undead bros, you can pretty much tell where I’m going and what I’ll do on any given day, with little or no variation, so like them, I offer few surprises.
Next to adultery, wife beating, or financial irresponsibility, that may sound tame. But I really do think husbands have a mandate to be a bit interesting to the women who’ve become so accustomed to our patterns. There’s nothing stimulating about the lug who moves about in a scripted routine.
So that morning, after I read about the zombie carolers and thought this all over, I slapped myself awake, bounded downstairs, swept Renee up in my arms and said, “What a glorious morning, and what a great night’s sleep! Come with me, wife, and let us kick butt victoriously today. All butts that submit will be shown mercy; all others must die.”
I thought it was a good effort. She didn’t. But Churchill said “Never give up.” Tomorrow I’ll show the same enthusiasm with less over the top content.
It won’t hurt any of us husbands to try keeping our ladies a little more entertained. We will often fail, as I did that morning, to be genuinely clever. But they’ll love us for the effort. Boredom can become a slow death to intimacy, so if we can’t make enough money, stay in the bests of shape, or keep up with all the chores, then good grief, let’s at least try to be a little interesting. They deserve it.
So maybe there are lessons we can learn from the zombie fad. I’m no supporter of celebrating death, much less un-Biblical interpretations of what happens after one dies. But two things can be said for zombie characters: they remind husbands of what we could become, and they warn us of what we must avoid.