Do you know what I’ve discovered in my old age? There are only three appropriate responses to things that happen to us in life: “hallelujah” (heart full of gratitude), “WTF” (incredulous bafflement), or “shit, the zombies done sucked the brains plum out of my head and that’s why I do what I do” (excuse for becoming a nasty individual).
When I was young, I didn’t want to admit that zombies existed (as a child, I called them “demons” or the “bogie man”), but recently I’ve come to realize that I’ve always known they were real and have spent the last several years just trying to stay out of reach of their brain-sucking ways.
Bubble Girl Running from Zombies||courtesy of vowelmovement.com
But this past weekend, the zombies caught up with me and started attacking me in such an insidious way that I almost lost my soul and didn’t even know it. On Friday morning bright and early I set out to take a trip to Minneapolis (most people go to Paris, London, or NYC to get their freak on, but I go to Minneapolis—that’s my “partying freak-on” not “doing the wild-thing freak-on,” so get your mind out of the gutter, nasty boys). I had had a grueling week and was looking forward to some much needed R&R as I got together with family and friends and tripped the light fantastic in the city of “Minnesota nice.”
Have you ever had a day that rolls away from you from the moment you step outside your house until it ends at midnight? My life went to Hell in a hand basket when I didn’t get home from work in time enough to get my packing act together and I just threw things into bags in the hope that all would end well. I barely got two hours of sleep, and flew out of the house like a woman crazed when the phone rang and the cabbie announced he had arrived at 5:45 a.m. ready to transport my husband and me to the airport. But when I went outside, the cab was not in front of my house. As I searched the dark street, I saw the taxi in front of a neighbor’s house with its emergency lights flashing and the silhouette of the driver kneeling on the ground in front of his high beams, presumably facing Mecca, while he unashamedly participated in his morning prayers to Allah. Now I’m all for religious freedom, but when I’ve got a plane to catch and you’re my cab driver—WTF (incredulous bafflement)! Whatever possessed that cabbie to call me, announce that he had arrived, and then drop to his knees for a chat with his god? Why didn’t he pray first and then engage in business with me—I would have never been the wiser.
To make matters even worse, WW was respectfully standing several car lengths away from the cab with our bags in tow as if frozen into place. (Because WW knows everything, apparently, he knew it was Ramadan—the high holy fasting period for all who follow Islam.) Agitated as hell, I tried to be as gracious as two hours sleep could grant me as I whispered to my husband: “Why don’t we just drive ourselves to the airport; I don’t have time for this crap—I’ve got places to go, and things to do, and I’m exhausted, God dammit!” But the dude had blocked our driveway with part of his car and WW thought it would be bad karma to run over a praying man with our car as we were trying not to miss a flight. And so we waited and waited as I pondered about the tad bit of xenophobia growing in the back of my brain and seeping down into my heart at the thought of my cabbie imposing his religious rites on my busy schedule. I mean whatever happened to a regular ol’ Black man who spoke English (thank you very much) picking me up like in the good old days without any of this dropping to your knees in the middle of a dark road stuff. Somewhere in the back of my mind, like the flutter of butterfly wings, a random thought flittered across my brain that this was Ramadan season and the cabbie was just doing his thing like I am wont to do at Easter and Christmas, but my shitty attitude squished the thought like a bug. I didn’t realize it then, but a zombie of xenophobia was attempting to suck out my brains and love for my fellowman was starting to grow cold.
Zombie’s reason to live||courtesy of emergingmagazine.com
The airport was a zoo—more so than usual—and as I stood in line a very grumpy, over-the-top, fat slob of a TSA agent roamed the holding area and lectured all the passengers about making sure we had no illegal substances like hairspray, gels, racks of ribs, and apple pies in our carry-on luggage. “That’s why the lines are so long, people, because you’re not obeying the rules and you’re trying to travel with all sorts of crazy shit,” screamed the TSA Nazi as he frantically pointed at the banned contraband poster. Before my embarrassing TSA smack down which was inevitable given the way my day had started, I remember kibitzing with another seasoned traveler about how sad and humiliating it must be for a novice flyer who didn’t know all the rules of post 9/11 flying to encounter this TSA dude who seemed to have had a roasted jalapeno pepper shoved up his ass that morning or was being taken over by a zombie. As I passed through the “orgasmatron” (imagining TSA agents FOTFL at images of my little fat naked body), dreaming about the steak and vodka gimlet I was going to consume at my favorite Minneapolis restaurant, Manny’s Steakhouse, bells and whistles began to sound, the conveyer belt with my stuff screeched to a halt, TSA agents came running from everywhere, and a Brunhilda agent barked commands into the walkie-talkie on her shoulder as she ordered me to step to the side for questioning and a body search as WW pretended he didn’t know me.
Cox and Forkum|image from authenticallywired.com
The long and the short of it was that I had inadvertently packed a Costco-size can of hairspray and wig detangler in my carry-on case. As all the other passengers whose schedules I was holding up looked at me with death ray eyes of scorn laced with pity, the TSA Nazi with the roasted jalapeno ass held up my hair products above his head and shouted out my verdict to everyone from here to eternity: “THROWING AWAY A LARGE-ASS HAIRSPRAY CAN AND WIG DETANGLER BOTTLE FROM THE WOMAN STANDING IN FRONT OF ME AND TOSSING THEM INTO THE CONTRABAND BARREL TO MY LEFT!” As he slammed my precious hair products into the confiscated bin of no return, I remember screaming, “noooooooo, that shit costs a fortune and they don’t sell this in Minneapolis because there are not that many black people who need their hair detangled—how the fuck am I going to do my hair while I’m there”? As the TSA Nazi gave me a look of complete and utter disdain, I snatched my bag from him with all the force I could muster and conjured up the fiercest “evil eye” that I could beam toward him as another zombie of mean-spiritedness began to chomp down on my brain and drain into my heart against another fellow human who was just trying to do his job.
Meet the Fockers/”The Evil Eye”|Image of Universal Pictures and Dreamworks SKG
Needless to say, when I landed in Minneapolis—the land of Garrison Keillor (one of my literary idols), Prince, Charles Schulz, and “Minnesota nice,” I was fit to be tied. I drank too much and I ate too much and within 24 hours I had a zombie nightmare brought on by the meat sweats of the worst kind because that is how a 24-ounce rib eye and a triple-sized vodka gimlet will punish a person’s gluttonous ass. In the dream I kept trying to get back home like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, only I had to go through airport security, but they wouldn’t let me back on the plane because they said I was possessed.
TSA AGENT: Well, well, well, Mrs. Tomczyk—we meet again! It seems you not only don’t know how to pack in order to get on an airplane these days, but it seems your name has now been put on the “no fly” list because you couldn’t keep your attitude in check. It looks like your ass is going to be driving home, m’lady, and we’ll just see if Homeland Security even lets you cross the state borders.
ME: I know I screwed up; I’m so sorry. I’ve done a lot of thinking and I’m not the same person that came through the airport in DC a few days ago—I swear to you, I’m back to being the Eleanor we all know and love. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think a couple of zombies made me act the way I did.
TSA AGENT: Zombies, heh? What makes you think you have the ability to spot a zombie invasion?
ME: That’s just it; I think I’ve always been able to see them ever since I was a little girl. I just stopped paying attention. But you know they’re in the vicinity when humans and animals start acting irrationally. Zombienation.com told me that the definition of a zombie attack is “A living being stripped of its will, humanity, and normal behavior by outside forces either supernatural or mundane.” Haven’t you noticed how there’s been a series of animal attacks over the past decade that just don’t make sense? Remember the sting ray stabbing of the Crocodile Hunter from Australia? Don’t you think it’s weird that he didn’t get killed by a vicious crocodile but bought the farm from a normally passive sea creature? Zombie attack I tell you. And what about Siegfried and Roy—a tiger they’d worked with since he was six months old ate Roy for lunch less than 24 hours after Roy’s 59th birthday celebration, and they still don’t know why Montecore, the tiger, attacked his master. Well, I do: It was a zombie attack! Every day there is a story about a chimp or a shark or a crocodile chewing up a human or two. It’s those damn zombies!
Monkey Attack|Image from funnydowntown.com
TSA AGENT: So instead of using the age-old excuse, “the devil made me do it,” you’re blaming zombies for your shitty attitude and xenophobic behavior?
ME: You know about the praying cabbie? How do you know about him?
TSA AGENT: We’re Homeland Security—we know everything.
ME: (Slightly rattled and somewhat chagrined) Yeah, well I’m not the only one. Have you been watching the race leading up to the presidential campaign, lately? The Supreme Court unleashed a legion of zombies when they upheld the Citizens United request to allow corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns. Because of that misguided debacle, have you seen the nasty shit we’re being bombarded with from all sides? It’s enough to suck out your soul.
TSA AGENT: So because the Supreme Court lost its mind, you have the right to do so as well? I thought you were supposed to be a Christian—full of love, charity, mercy, and grace.
ME: Wait a minute, here; I thought you were a TSA Agent. You’re beginning to sound a lot like the voice of God. I’m just saying that Americans are daily flooded with hatred and lies from the political campaigns and it is beginning to affect my mind. It’s beginning to affect all of our minds. Both sides share the blame in polluting the airways, although the Republicans should own the lion’s share of hateful ads and lies against our President because, thanks to the Koch brothers, they have five times the amount of money to waste on negative ads. There hasn’t been a sitting president to encounter so much hatred since Abraham Lincoln. To hear the Republicans tell it, President Obama is either a Muslim plant in the Oval Office or a bloody terrorist who shot up the theater in Colorado and the Sikh temple in Wisconsin to take away automatic rifles from “real Americans.” Only people who’ve had their brains sucked out by zombies could believe that shit about our President, and if he’s fighting back, you can’t much blame him!
Obama, the Zombie Fighter|Image by rotflpictures.com
TSA AGENT: What does that have to do with your attitude and making your way back home? You’re responsible for you and you alone. Why should I let you go home?
ME: Because I’ve changed. I had a “come to Jesus meeting” or should I say a “come to Garrison meeting.” I ran into the writer, Garrison Keillor, when I was in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (at least I think it was him) and as our eyes locked for a brief moment as the clouds parted on a beautiful walking path one morning, I could have sworn I heard him say: “Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.” And just like that, my zombie oppression vanished with a little Prairie Home Companion wisdom and I regained my grace and brotherly love. I asked God to forgive me when I realized that my horrid attitude toward the cab driver was pathetic and mean-spirited. The cabbie turned out to be a really sweet man who was just trying to honor his god, and all I could see as the impatient, ugly American was that he was interfering with my schedule. You see, I want to be a gentle person—not a mean person—but a gentle person who can still be a zombie slayer when needed.
I am discovering that we are all just one zombie brain-sucking moment away from being haters and murderers. All it takes is an insipid lie to invade our gray matter about the character or actions of another human being, and then the next thing you know we’re dealing with another massacre or assasination. If we want to kill the “anti-love zombies,” then gentle people everywhere need to continue to be vigilant of our attitudes and rise up and push back the darkness of hatred and racism with our tolerance, love, understanding, and grace. By doing so, maybe—just maybe—we will all manage to make our way back home.
Zombie Sticker Alert|image from humorusonline.com
“In my racket, there’s a serious occupational hazard: becoming a nasty individual. That’s because humor so often involves mockery and ridicule — you get your laughs at the expense of others. . . Controlling this nasty impulse is a constant challenge to the Modern Humourist, especially when under provocation.”—Gene Weingarten (“Gezundheit!” from The Washington Post)
“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.” ― Gene Roddenberry
“Love is our most unifying and empowering common spiritual denominator. The more we ignore its potential to bring greater balance and deeper meaning to human existence, the more likely we are to continue to define history as one long inglorious record of man’s inhumanity to man.”― Aberjhani
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