by Jon Pine
Today I start yet another trip around the sun. I won’t tell you how many trips I’ve made, but here’s a clue: just a couple of days before I started my first trip, John Glenn made three trips around the Earth in just under five hours.
Had I not dallied upon entering this world, says my mom, my first name would have an “h” in it and my middle name would be Glenn, in honor of America’s first space hero. The punishment for my tardiness? A lifetime of correcting people who misspell my name, and of trying to hide the fact that my actual middle name is “Clifford.” (Go ahead. Laugh. I’ve made my peace with it. Sort of.)
So how, exactly, did I decide to usher in this latest trip? With zombies, of course!
I’m not usually a fan of the horror/gore film genre, but there’s just something about zombies that cracks me up every time. They’re just so… silly. As a concept, I mean.
Think about it: Zombies are dead, but not really dead. They’re hungry, but only for living flesh – they never eat other zombies. But somehow, lots of people only get nibbled-on by zombies, not fully devoured, otherwise how do you explain the proliferation of all those new zombies?
There’s more: Zombies lumber around, they can see, and climb, but they can’t speak. They are aware enough to know that you are alive, that you’re not another zombie, but not smart enough to realize that you are about to kill them. Oh, and just when you think they’re really dead-dead, watch out – because they might just be undead. Still undead? Undead again? Something to that effect.
See what I mean?
All of this, of course, makes them perfect comedy foils. And perhaps the most hilarious evidence of that is the film “Zombieland,” which I watched last night with friends. If you like your blood, guts and dismemberment leavened with massive doses of smart, funny dialog, then this flick’s for you. It also contains a cameo by a huge comedy star that just may be the funniest five minutes of film in the past decade. I won’t spoil the surprise here.
Birthdays are, naturally, a time of reflection. And this morning I got to thinking: Zombies are also a perfect metaphor for growing older. Sometimes as we age we tend to sort of lumber along, oblivious to most of what is around us. We’ve settled on a path toward what it is that feeds us, often missing some really great opportunities and experiences just off the pathway.
And mostly, we hang around with other zombies – people who look like us, sound like us and behave like us. But when we were young, we laughed at those “old people” who were so “set in their ways.”
When did we become those people? And who’s laughing now?
So I’ve come up with some rules for my next trip around the sun. Or maybe they’re actually “anti-rules.” You can decide:
1. Watch more zombie movies. It doesn’t matter that the logic doesn’t add up. Neither does life’s logic – learn to laugh about that. (Next up: “The Devil’s Rejects.” Someone also suggested “Shaun of the Dead.”)
2. Color outside the lines more. That’s where true art resides.
3. Be more passionate. About something. Anything. Better yet, about everything. It’s one of those things that separates humans from other species.
4. Talk less, listen more. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. We can’t learn unless we first learn to listen.
5. Take my inner child out for ice cream. Or to fly a kite, climb on some monkey bars, make a sand castle, or just do something fun I haven’t done in years. If adults look at me in a disapproving way, consider that a bonus.
6. Work less, participate more. Nobody ever said on their deathbed “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
7. Quit complaining. And remember my friend John R.’s credo: “Things could always be worse.” This, from a man who received a cosmic screwing that robbed him of his home, his family, his reputation, and 18 years of his life, but who somehow still manages not to be pissed off at everyone and everything.
8. Read more, write more, watch less TV. Except, of course, when zombie movies are on TV! (Ironically, “Zombieland” was originally written as a pilot for a TV show. When it was turned down, it was turned into a movie instead.)
9. Count my blessings. But share some of them with others. Just another piece of creature comfort for me might be a life-saver for someone else.
10. Exercise more, eat better. There really is no excuse, so quit making them already. Remember the Number 1 rule from “Zombieland” – Good Cardio! You wanna be able to outrun the zombies.
© 2010 Jon Pine