In college I took a psychology class and I remember a study that stated if an individual shares something personal with a stranger, that stranger will be inclined to share something in return. In that spirit, allow me to share something about myself in the hopes of encouraging you to open up as well.
I have a deep and very real fear of zombies. Not zombie movies or scary TV shows that involve zombies. I, Jonathan Browning, am really afraid of zombies. Mentally I know that zombies don’t exist. Emotionally, I am terrified of them. Irrational? Welcome to my wife’s world. Rarely do I open a curtain at night without preparing myself to see a pair of dead eyes looking back at me. Much to my dog’s chagrin, walks are often cut short if a figure is spotted walking alone down the dark streets. It’s absolutely crazy but totally true.
Since I have lived with this fear for several years, I have had an opportunity to really reflect on the zombie lifestyle and my place in it. Here is one conclusion I have come to without a single doubt. If the world is overrun by zombies I will be little or no help whatsoever. Let me be perfectly clear on this point. I am not downplaying my abilities or acting humble in order to score sympathy points. I am just acutely aware that my ability to survive an apocalypse scenario in which the dead rise up to dine on the living is slim to none. Please heed my words, if you find yourself living in a world infested by zombies, do not look for me to be of any support.
Allow me to lay out my case.
I am in no physical condition to out run a zombie. I currently have to take a few minutes to catch my breath between putting on each of my socks. And sometimes there is a short nap before I “tackle those shoes”. That does not bode well for fleeing an army of running screaming zombies. One must be in top physical condition to elude these new “modern” zombies. Chasing down speeding cars, leaping out windows and running through the streets at high speeds is par for the course for these new fangled zombies.
I would barely have time to get out a girly high-pitched scream before they were upon me. And I would not go down with a valiant fight. After my weak slaps were deemed ineffective, I would simply roll up into a ball and soil myself. (This is exactly how most of the fights I have been in end. But unlike the school bully or the bouncer at the Irish Pub in Chicago, zombies wouldn’t find this action “sad” and “pathetic” and then leave me to wallow in my own shame. No, they would not be deterred by this underutilized fighting technique.)
You might be thinking, “OK. I’ll give you the new super fast zombies but what about the old school Night of The Living Dead zombies?” While my chances might look good against these zombies, it is a hollow victory. What these zombies lack in speed they make up for in tenacity. I don’t have the “never give up spirit”. At first I would be able to flee these slow shuffling abominations but for how long? Just ask my old gym teacher and he will tell you that I am a quitter. (He really wanted me to climb that rope but gravity had other plans.) But be careful, he still carries a bat around to do impromptu “cup checks”.
Maybe I am not fast or have a great deal of stamina. Surely when faced with certain annihilation the survival instinct would kick in and I would be a Kick-Ass Zombie Killer, right? And while I like to fantasize that I am the leading man type who would drive around the zombie-ridden landscape on a motorcycle shooting zombies with his sawed off shot-gun; I know that I am more likely going to be the guy whose plan to hide in an abandoned corn silo will go horribly awry. My demise would be a very macabre Three Stooges-like moment where the zombie slowly chases me around and around the base of the silo.
There is no way around it. I will be one of the first transformed into a zombie. But don’t feel bad for me. Becoming a zombie wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened to me. Let’s look at the bright side of zombification. I have never seen a selfish zombie. When a zombie spots some terrified survivor running for their life, that zombie doesn’t try and keep it under raps. That zombie lets out a moan to notify the other zombies in the area that food has been discovered. I am more selfish than zombies. In my current human state, I refuse to share the last creamsicle with my wife.
When it comes to frozen treats in my house, it's "Jungle Law"!
Zombies seem to find great pleasure in the small things. Specifically finding and consuming brains. Zombies don’t fret. They are very Zen about life. If zombies could articulate, I believe they would sound like a stoned monk discussing how you don’t “look for brains you find brains”.
I must admit that I do admire the complete lack of body issues that zombies have about themselves. They don’t attempt to cover a missing arm or compulsively pull on their shirts to hide a bulging belly. They are loud, they are proud, get used to it!
So, if you look out your window and see an army of undead marching toward you, there is no need to tell me to get a shotgun or to make a run for it. I am already either one of them or soon shall be. And I’m alright with that. As a zombie, I’ve got a good group of friends around me. I am relaxed, driven and completely free of self-judgment. (It’s a lot like being in a Frat without having to participate in the strangely homoerotic initiations.)
I hope that my opening up about my fear of zombies has inspired you to share your fears as well. FYI… I am also deathly afraid of mice. But that is a story for another time.