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Thursday, April 19, 2007

O Death, where is thy zing?

[Anders Coakley, Convenor:] Hi and welcome to Growing and Flowering: Accepting Undeath, the support group for people who don’t feel comfortable in the recognized closed categories of [makes exaggerated inverted commas hand gestures] “life” and “death”. It’s a group for people who are having a tough time charting the difficult third way in the face of open hostility from so-called [inverted commas gesture] “polite society”. The nattering nabobs and chattering masses refer to such people, you people, as “zombies” without any consideration for your feelings, without any consideration for what you might be going through as you straddle life and death

Before we go on, just a word about labels. While many of us grew up believing that “sticks and stones may break your bones but names cannot hurt you”, today we’re somewhat wiser. We all know of the damage that can be done to our heart, our psyche, our sense of identity from a carelessly applied label or name. So it’s important we get this right. “Zombie” is a terribly derogatory term, an awesomely hurtful schoolyard taunt. “Walking dead” is not much better – it implies you’re not sophisticated enough to master vehicular transport. “Living dead” and “undead” define us in those terms, denying us our own status – like calling different races “black whites” or “non-blacks”. Some members of our community prefer the, to my ears, slightly clunky “mortality challenged”. I prefer “people of no colour” and I think we should work to see that language accepted widely.

Now. Who’d like to kick off?

[Large pallid man with a bload-soaked shirt and bulging eye-balls raises his hand]

OK, Gary, thank you, I know how difficult it can be to be the first. Please. Share.

[Gary Smith:] Um, thanks, thanks Anders. This my third time here, first time speaking. Um, my name’s Gary and I’ve been a zom…a, a person without colour for about 28 days now.

[All:] Welcome Gary!

[Gary Smith:] Thanks. I’m finding it really hard, I’m finding [bursts into pink tears and is comforted by other members nearby] …I can’t cope. I’m getting a lot of rejection from people that I used to think loved me and respected me. My wife, my kids, so-called, friends, neighbours – they won’t have a bar of me.

[Anders:] And how is this treatment manifesting itself?

[Gary:] Er, they’re shouting things at me, barring the door, running away screaming whenever I come near. I tried to pick up my daughter the other day and my wife grabbed her and screamed at me “get away you goddamned zombie fuck”. That, that really hurt.

[Anders, shaking his head:] People can be so cruel. What did you say to her?

[Gary:] I can’t remember. I was too upset. Something like: “brains, brains, need brains.” And then my brother, Tim, hit me with a baseball bat. It hurt, it really hurt, because the pain went way beyond the flesh, way down to my soul. And all the while he was screaming to a police officer: ‘take the head shot! Shoot him in the head.’ [Gasps from other members of the group]. I couldn’t believe that my own brother could be so intolerant. Sure I don’t have the hygiene standards I used to. I’m a bit pongy, especially the smell of raw meat on my breath. And sure I don’t conform to Western standards of beauty – I’m not a "metro-sexual". And sure I get cravings that can be difficult to accommodate. But I’m still a human being, goddamnit. Kind of. [The sound of quiet weeping is heard on the opposite side of the circle.]

[Tim Smith, lurches awkwardly to his feet, cradling one ruined arm in the other. Bite marks surround a large hole in his temple.] Gary, Gary, I’m so sorry. I had no idea that behind that lumbering, drooling undead “monster” [makes inverted commas gesture] that were was a thinking breathing feeling human being. Kind of. Can you ever find it in yourself to forgive me? I feel like I’ve come such a long way since yesterday before dawn when you broke through the back fence. And I feel that our journey through life as brothers has taken a new and important turn.

[Gary hugs Tim fiercely, pausing momentarily to sniff at the dried blood and viscera on his neck:] Oh Tim, you know I can, you know I can forgive you. And I have a little confession to make. You know when you were 12 and somebody tore all your posters off your wall and put them in the pool and I swore it wasn’t me? It was! [They hug and sob together]. Also, I ate your girlfriend. Twice, if you know what I’m saying.

8 comments:

meva said...

See? The family that eats brains together, stays together.

A very touching post. Thank you, Nick.

*wipes pink tear from remains of cheek*

Jo said...

I cried, and cried and cried.

Then I decomposed myself.

killerrabbit said...

I will never be zombieist again! You have made me see the errors of my ways.

The Man at the Pub said...

Mr Sushi.

Are you a Discworld fan?

In it, Reginald Shoe starts the "Dead rights" movement and the Fresh Start Club, putting flyers for meetings on the inside of the lids of coffins. "Undead, yes! Unperson, no!"

redcap said...

Let me guess, Nick - you've been watching a little Peter Jackson of late, haven't you? Turned off the DVD and got out the old Slasher mower and the Vitamiser, yeah? Bowl of custard and ears, anyone?

TimT said...

The best thing about this post is the title, and this is a very, very good post.

nick cetacean said...

I really think I should be one of the bloggers who responds to every comment.

Then I might be popular.

M + J + KR: glad to have added something to your dreary workaday lives.

MATP: never read Pratchett. And if he said something of mine first. Well. He didn't. That's all I'm saying.

R: have seen most of his ouevre but not lately. I'm just bug on low concepts...

T: ta. Can't help but think your stupid jokes are uncomfortably close to my stupid jokes. Only funnier and more frequent.

Spike said...

Excellent, Nick.

Man at the pub, which Pratchett is that in?