I’m sitting in my friend’s newly renovated kitchen, sipping on a glass of red wine; we’re just a couple of wives having a chat, her year old baby is soundly asleep. We discuss all subjects: our husbands, her schooling, my writing, and the topic turns to film and television. I tell her about a lovely film I had seen the day before on Netflix, “Cairo Time”. (Don’t judge the Lifetime network sounding title, it really was quite good). “Oh it was so romantic, and the scenery was amazing, great acting…just a wonderful movie”, I recall dreamily. She smiles at me, “I’ve really been into “The Walking Dead” lately. I shiver, and suddenly see my friend in a different light. Oh. My. God. She’s a ZOMBIE…fanatic. Panicked, I edged out the door and ran like hell down the street, screaming for dear life. Of course I didn’t actually flee, we got a little bit drunk on the couch and watched “Roman Holiday”.
Her comment did leave me a few things to consider. This will come as a shock to no one, but I am going to make a statement for the record: I am resolutely uninterested in the Zombie genre that is infecting popular culture. If I was in Playboy magazine, it would be one of my turn-offs. I’m not a fan of death, disease, horror or the apocalypse (which would also be on my turn-offs list). I don’t enjoy violence in film, I don’t like to be grossed out or scared. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I’m the kind of woman who watches movies like “Cairo Time”. But it’s everywhere these days, even Margaret Atwood has co-written zombie themed stories. Genres upon sub genres have developed, even finding room for humour in the theme. And while yes, I did chuckle amid the Abba/Zombie episode of “Community”, that’s really more an “A” thing, than a “Z” thing. In fact, in writing this I half-watched “Shaun of the Dead”, which was perfectly funny—but to be honest I’d take “Hot Fuzz” any day over it. But if it is serious, gory, flesh eating, run for your life, end of the world zombie lore, I just can’t hack it.
One night in Halifax, while on holiday with my best friend, we sat together in a restaurant as we waited for our husbands to return from yet another pub. We had been shopping and Evelyn had found a comic picture book about what Zombies do and do not like (I can’t recall the title). She and her father share an affinity over the zombie culture, and she had purchased it as a gift for him. She elaborates further, expressing her general fondness for zombies. “Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I think about what I would do if the world became overrun with the undead”. “When you can’t sleep?” I clarify. “Yeah, I think about places to hide, where I’d get food”. I’m a little drunk, and like a frightened, intoxicated child, confess that few things frighten me more than the concept of a zombie attack. “It’s not a real threat”, she soothes me… and she’s a scientist, so I tend to believe her when it comes to things like this. But there is something about the concept that makes my blood run cold. I push the book away from myself, feeling slightly uncool for not thinking of zombies as entertainment.
Years ago, following Christmas with my family, my fiancé (who is not my husband, but that’s a story for another day) and I went to the cinema to see “Walk Hard”, the John C. Reilly comedy that spoofs the life of Johnny Cash and other iconic musicians.
Within the first fifteen minutes, he loses interest in the film. He wants to watch “I am Legend”, a movie I knew little about. The movie had not yet started, so he ducks out of the dark theatre, and I follow reluctantly. The film begins with Will Smith and his dog, and it seems that they are the last creatures on earth. Having anticipated a silly comedy, and not being one to just abandon a film as if it were a sinking ship, I was enthusiastically pouting, slumped in the chair with my arms crossed. The movie was manageable at first; he’s gathering supplies, and experimenting with mice and listening Bob Marley, and then suddenly—BAM! Mutated vampiric zombies types appear out of nowhere, getting all up in in the mix, scaring the shit out of both Will Smith and myself.
Then someone infects his beloved dog, and then he has to strangle the animal to stop him from reanimating, and I am instantly so over this movie. I walk out of the theatre, and head upstairs to the washroom. I fuss with my hair in the mirror and wash my hands for an inordinate amount of time. I saunter downstairs and wander aimlessly around the lobby, looking at each individual poster for current and upcoming attractions. Eventually, I head back in to the theatre, as if stoically facing my worst fear.
The film ends, not happily I will add, and I’m furious. My fiancé really enjoyed the film, and just can’t understand why I’m so upset. My eyes blazing, I sputtered venomously: “You know how I feel about the post-apocalyptic genre!” But then again, I’m not sure that topic really ever came up, but knowing all that I know now, I will share this advice with readers: before one gets married, you really need to discuss a number of things: how you want to spend your money, how many children you want to have, where you want to live, and, not only their stance on zombie culture in general, but whether one of you is going to abandon comedy in favour of a post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film. These are serious questions you must not be afraid to ask. If you both love the genre, then you can dress up as married zombies for Halloween, and sleep soundly after watching back-to-back episodes of “The Walking Dead”. But that’s not me, and that wasn’t us. My husband, I’m happy to report, is also not a Zombie enthusiast…but he’s also not the kind of man who watches “Cairo Time”, he’s somewhere in the middle, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that.