Monday, August 13, 2012

Walk of the Living Dead

My friend Big works in the news, and he mentioned to me a couple of years ago that there had been a zombie walk in the state capitol.  A zombie walk is a strange sort of gathering where strangers dress as the undead and have a kind of parade for no real reason I can think of.  He and I thought it would be fun to participate in the next zombie walk, then forgot about it until the following year, when Big found out about it on the news just as he had the year before.  We had missed that one too.  So, when 2012 came along, we became a bit more careful, vowing we'd go to it this year.

I had spoken about it with my eleven year old niece, and she was excited about the prospect.  My four year old nephew was timid at first, but then became thrilled with the idea of going.  In fact, when I got to work on that zombie movie earlier this summer, and came home to show off my makeup, he was disappointed that I hadn't taken him along, thinking it had been that zombie walk I had promised him.

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I wanted to dress the kids up as zombies and take them along more than I even wanted to go myself.  We went to thrift stores, and picked out clothes we could tear up and soil for this outing, and I went to the party supply store to get makeup for us and Big's children.  I was even tempted to dress up the one year old, but that probably wouldn't have been wise.  We tested the makeup on him last week, and he wouldn't stand still and rubbed off what little I got on him.  Ah well, next year.

I was pretty disappointed and upset today when Big told me his kids no longer wanted to go, and very nearly told him to force them to participate and get a divorce.  In the end, though, his youngest daughter changed her mind, and rose in my estimation tenfold.  My niece did her own makeup, my sister made up my nephew, and I did what I could to create a unique zombie look for myself.  It felt a great deal like Halloween a couple of months early.

An army of zombies gathered in the city park, some with only minor ornamentation, and some with amazing, disgusting, or darned attractive costumes.  Weirdly, the split between male and female zombies was way off, and not in the way I would have anticipated.  And many of those undead girls were young and attractive.

We began in the park, the made a procession down the sidewalk, looping around downtown streets, amusing many, making some uncomfortable, then finally crossing in front of the capitol building and back to the park.  My nephew really got into it, reaching for onlookers and moaning, and though there were a couple of babies spattered with fake blood in strollers, I'm certain he was the cutest kid there.

There were hundreds of photographers and many journalists there tonight, so I went to one of the newspaper websites to see if any of our group got in the shots they used (we didn't).  Unfortunately, I also made the (oft-made) mistake of reading the comments at the bottom of the story.  The second one down read, "It disgusts me that in this difficult time of recession and hardship that so many would choose to waste their time on this worthless endeavor."  Because all of the words were spelled correctly, I can't rule out the possibility that it was my father who wrote the comment.

Now, my first inclination was to yell "Oh, eff you" at the computer.  Actually, my first inclination was to chastise myself for having read the story comments, because that never ceases to bum me out, shock my senses, or piss me off.  But my second thought was to close the website and go onto Facebook, where people who had participated were commenting on how much fun they had.  They shared their pictures, and I found myself, my nephew, and Big's daughter in some of them. 

I took a long shower, managing to get nearly all of the makeup and blood off of me, tried to get a bit of work done, then decided to go to bed a bit early (for some crazy reason, I couldn't go to sleep until after five last night).  I turned out the light and closed my eyes, and suddenly remembered the criticism of that one comment on the Tribune website.  And I had to consider his words (or her words, I suppose assholes can be female too).  We are in a time of hardship and recession, and I could have been spending my evening either making some money, writing (I have a handful of stories still in progress that need constant care, or they'll die on the vine), or editing my podcast.  Instead, I spent quite a bit of money (what with the makeup, the costumes, the gas spent, and the meal afterward), and have little to show for my August 12th but an expanding waistline and a handful of photographs.

But you know, who cares what some troll on the internet thinks?  I went somewhere with my friend, and made a memory (hopefully a good one) with my nephew and niece.  I actually exercised, carrying the lad until my back started to bug me, and enjoyed the fresh air of a warm summer evening.  I had had a good time, and I had shared it with people that mean something to me.  One man's "waste of time" is another man's "new positive experience."

Glass half full, boys and girls.  Half full.

Rish "of the Living Dead" Outfield

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