I, Zombie

If I were any movie monster, I would probably be a zombie. I wake up in that murky time before dawn, what the clichéd expression would have us believe is the darkest hour. I take stiff, lurching steps from the bedroom. My arms are raised in front of me, half in protection against colliding with door frames and furniture, half in an expression of primal seeking. My eyes are open, but it is clear that there is little to no cognition occurring behind them. My speech function is severely impaired, but I manage to form one word, drawn out and guttural: “Coffee.” It is the morning breath escaping with these two groaned syllables that really let’s you know I am the undead.

While zombie morning me is a little scary, his limited range of motion, slow speed, and dim intelligence keeps him from posing much of a threat. That is, as long as no one is around. He is a creature of habit, and as long as nothing interrupts his routine he is surprisingly successful at getting out of the door on time consistently. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of zombie morning me is that he is usually the one who drives to work, but the steaming travel mug of antidote in the cup holder helps. (Side note: the original draft of this piece has coffee stains all over it. True story.)

What movie monster are you?

proofI suppose I should be happy that I am not one of the other stock movie monsters. I know I am not a vampire; perhaps I am not as generous as I could be but I am confident that I am no bloodsucker. I rarely drain people’s energy or sap their mood, I hardly even ask for favors. I suppose most of us have been vampires to our parents, in some respect. But if that is true then our parents were vampires to our grandparents, and on and on in the circle of life, so that doesn’t really count. Plus, I lack the charm to be a vampire. I can be pretty convincing at times, but I don’t have the level of charisma and attraction that vampires are known to possess.

I do not fit the mold of a werewolf either. I believe most of us have had nights when our animal instincts have taken control and overridden the logical or ethical centers in our minds. But I don’t wake up once a month worried to discover what I did the night before. At least, not since I was a teenager. I would love to say that creative writing calls to me and transforms me the way the full moon works on the werewolf, but it is rarely so powerful or primal as all that. It is closer to the way the moon influences the tides, more subtle and constant, and exhausting to go against. Anyway, werewolf is out.

I can identify quite a bit with Frankenstein’s monster. At least, with the literary version who speaks, less so the Hollywood version. Sometimes I feel like a patchwork of different elements pieced together too. And who hasn’t felt like an outsider who only wants a little love? Who doesn’t have some pointed questions for their creator? I would claim kinship with this monster but I lack his rage, and if we’re being honest, his brute strength as well. And while I have known loneliness, I don’t ever really feel like I am the only one of my kind in the whole world. At least not since high school. Holy crap, are all monsters based on teenagers?

I imagine there must be people walking around who feel like ghosts of their former selves, but for me it feels more like my younger selves are the ghosts. Not that I’m haunted by my past or anything, but half the time I look at a picture of five-year-old me or eleven-year-old me I wonder: whatever happened to that kid? That disconnect is a little creepy, but it’s not exactly monstrous.

I don’t feel all that destructive or misunderstood, so King Kong, Godzilla and a host of lesser movie monsters are out. I’m a dude and don’t have any magical powers (believe me, I’ve investigated,) so I can’t claim to be a witch. Is anyone really a mummy? I guess if someone woke me up while they were stealing my stuff then sure, I’d drop some curses and maybe chase them around a bit, but that seems like a very specific situation. I’m sorry to report that I do not have the singularity of purpose to compare myself to any of the robotic movie monsters either.

Could that be all the big ones? I’m surprised at how few archetypal movie monsters there seem to be now that I’m cataloging them. I couldn’t even make this post a list of eleven if I wanted to. Ok, so there are many versions of aliens, but if the movie is doing its job than the alien should be very difficult to relate to, otherwise it wouldn’t be all that alien. I still feel like I’m missing some monsters. If you can think of any, dear reader, drop them in the comments.

So, on closer examination my initial assessment holds up: I am more zombie than any other movie monster. It would be fine if my similarity to the living dead were limited to the wee hours of the morning before I’m caffeinated. But there are days and even weeks when I am a zombie. I wake up, go to work, go through the motions and put off any true “living” until the work day is over. But then I find myself too run down to do much when I get home, so it’s order dinner and zone out in front of the the TV until it’s time to go to bed, so I can do it all over the next day. A week of that and my momentum and motivation to actually do something once I’m off is pretty minimal. I’ll often sleep in and take the day to “decompress,” doing nothing in order to assert to myself that I don’t have to do anything. So that leaves my second day off, one day a week to cram in all my chores and shopping, plus all my “living.” No wonder I’m often overwhelmed on this day and end up putting off some things until later, which typically works out to be my second day off seven days later, after another week of resembling a walking corpse.

Today, zombies are typically imagined to be the result of some mysterious disease or a military experiment gone awry. But the original version of zombies were created on purpose, to be the perfect slaves. Through voodoo and maybe some combination of drugs, a person was robbed of their freewill but left with the ability to labor. Now that is terrifying. Let’s be clear, I’m not saying my employer is a slave driver, or a practitioner of voodoo for that matter. But the analogy is pretty compelling.

While I’m expecting a better position, or finding a better job, in the near future, the fact is I’m probably going to be working for somebody for a long time. (At least until I figure out a way to get paid for producing stuff like this weird little essay.) So the best thing I can do right now to assert my non-zombie nature is to spend more time living my life to the fullest. Part of that is keeping up with Eleventyone. Another element is engaging with the people I care about more fully. Turning off the hypnotic television is a big piece as well. And maybe I should start dealing with my coffee addiction. Or should I be drinking more coffee? Anyway, I’m going to endeavour to put a little more living in my life. And what about you, dear reader? What movie monster are you? And what are you going to do about it?


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7 Responses to I, Zombie

  1. John February 11, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Thanks for including the pic of the coffee stain. That was a nice touch, but we never doubted your story.
    Today while crawling out of the subway into the rain I felt like creature from the black lagoon. Normally I’m the werewolf. I’m quite hairy and once-monthly my girlfriend drives me crazy.

    • Doyle February 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      You, sir, are hilarious. I’m still laughing. Have you ever considered going into comedy?

      • John February 12, 2013 at 6:03 am #

        I’ve thought about it but it seems like a tough business with little-to-no financial reward.

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