Saturday, April 07, 2007

Chats about Zombies

After work today, I meandered to Trader Joe's to do some light grocery shopping. I feel Trader Joe's to be a sort of sister-company, in that they seem to have a similar approach to customer service; the people at the registers actually try to make conversation with you. I like this very much (which, incidentally, is kind of funny, because I used to be terrified of talking to cashiers and suchlike). Today I asked the young chap ringing up my purchases if he celebrated Easter. I was going to wish him a happy one, but although I don't think there's a good reason to be offended for being wished a happy Easter even if you don't celebrate it, still, I also think there's no point in going out of my way to offend someone with whom I can't discuss the holiday at some length afterwards.

"Well, I mean, not really," he said, "but kind of I guess. I mean, family's coming over and stuff."

"That's nice," I said, insipidly but sincerely.

"Do you?" he asked politely.

"Um, yeah, I do," I said, trying to decide if I should be slightly more forthcoming and tell him that it is my favourite holiday of all the year, or at least that I was going to celebrate it with family, too. I was, of course, anticipating the obligatory, "Well, happy Easter then!" after which I would be on my merry way.

Only I had underestimated the Starbucks/Trader Joe's talk-about-anything propensity, because the next thing the guy said was, "Getting all ready to celebrate the return of Zombie-Jesus, huh?"

I guess he wasn't as concerned about offending people as I was.

I wasn't really offended, but I certainly was startled. This was the first time I had ever encountered this line of thinking. He appeared to expect that. He had said it with the pleased air of someone who had come up with the comparison all on his own and was accustomed to jarring people with it. I have to give him credit for that.

"Ummm . . . that's an interesting way to look at it," I ventured, trying to figure out if I could say anything a little more redemptive before the customers behind me in line got impatient or the kid clammed up and stopped talking.

Something about my hesitance must have clued him in to the fact that maybe I was a little more invested in the holiday than he had at first given me credit for, because he then began to try to backpedal vehemently.

"Well, I mean," he hemmed, "in my understanding, when someone dies, and then they come back to life out of their grave, they're zombies."

"Ah," I said, even though I am not up on my zombie lore, "but I believe zombies are still actually dead, whereas Jesus is alive."

"Are they dead, though?" he said, and reiterated his previous point. I couldn't answer the question, because I don't really know. Somebody that knows about zombies might enlighten me on this point.

But the kid was still going. "I'm not trying to say that's something bad, though. I mean, that Jesus was a zombie. He doesn't have to be a brain-eating zombie or anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure from whatever I've read in the Bible, He wasn't really that kind of guy . . ." By this time we had come to the end of my merchandise and I had paid for it and everything, and there were other customers in line, so there wasn't really any call for me to start grilling him on how much of the Bible he's actually read. Besides which, I've never read anything about zombies, nor do I intend to.

I don't remember how the conversation ended. I don't even remember if I wound up wishing him a happy Easter. But what I'm wondering is, could I have posited that zombies are animated, but not alive, and Jesus is alive? 'Cause I'll bring it up next time. I've seen that kid at Trader Joe's before.


Annelise said... never know what the other's guy's thinking, do you? But praise God, Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

David A. Zimmerman said...

I suppose you could have told him that zombies are make-believe and Jesus is real, but that might have thrown off his D&D game that night, which probably would have landed your conversation in the "stumbling block" category. Oh how I wish I could have witnessed that exchange! That's a story for the ages, Jennnnnnnn.

Jenn said...

Mom--as Brooks says, "He sure is!"

Dave--sometimes I wish other people could hear these exchanges, too. I just think they're hilarious. Which, I guess, is why I resort to writing about them instead.

the item said...

That’s wicked amusing!! I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Llama Momma said...

This story is hillarious. Zombie Jesus! I love it.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be no difference between being animated and being alive, so....I suppose there's a decent possibility that our friend at the cash register is right in a very queer way.

But if Jesus is a zombie at least he's a life giving one as opposed to the Dawn of the Dead variety who only bring death, have no fashion sense and poor motor skills. They're not very quotable either.


dave grosser said...

I'd respectfully take issue with lpardon--being undead or an animated corpse doesn't mean that the process of decaying has ceased; zombies are still dead but there's some power (scientific or occult) from the outside that animates the corpse. Whether the resulting zombie has any personality/emotions depends on the movie you watch, but the personality doesn't usually correspond to the person who lived before they died and later became undead. None of these well-known zombie features come into play for the risen Christ. Also, zombies are fairly easy to re-kill, or at least temporarily disassemble (also, depending on the movie), and their power of mass destruction mainly comes from sheer quantity and the certitude that, if zombies are loose, more zombies will be created from their victims. Finally, Jesus said, "Peace be with you" not "BRAAAIINNSSS...."


Oh, what a hilarious conversation...

dave grosser said...

Oh, and I think you should transfer my erudite discussion about zombies into a Chick-style tract (complete with macabre India Ink cartoon drawings) and give it to Mr. Witty Trader Joe's guy to save him from his dangerous misunderstanding.

Jenn said...

I think I'm inclined to agree with my brother rather than lpadron re: animated versus alive, but I'm delighted you commented! ;)

Jenn said...

I shall furthermore attempt said macabre illustrations post-haste. Or maybe not.

I should probably state here that apparently (before reading this post) The Item heard Easter being referred to as "your zombie holiday" on a notorious local rock station. So maybe Trader-Joe's-dude wasn't quite as clever as he thought. Or maybe he had just been listening to the radio.

Anonymous said...

Well, I tried to comment tonight. (I was in meetings all day. Bleachhh. They were good meetings though.) I tried to post, but I'm not sure it went through. At any rate, if several versions of one post show up, feel free to delete the duplicates.

And here are the comments in case they never arrive.

Here's my first comment (serious):
I'm late as usual. But this is a great conversation. Zombie Jesus. Hilarious--and if not corrected pretty blasphemous. But it is one of those images that jars us in a way that isn't bad if we use it to remind ourselves--hey, this rising from the dead stuff is crazy! And real! And he isn't a Zombie!

Sometimes I think Christians forget how crazy and wonderful our faith is. (I mean that in a good way.)

Zombie comments like this--while ridiculous--do help jar me out of my apathetic religious stupor. And remember that he is alive--like Annelise said.
Here's my second (less so):
About zombie lore specifically...

Wikipedia has good information in its "Zombie" article--although not nearly as comprehensive as I was expecting. Their article on Zombies in literature and fiction is a lot more fun.

In my experience Zombies decay by definition. But they can't die. That means "Zombie Jesus" is just another way of saying anti-Christ. It's a perversion of the truth and life that he gives us.

Since Zombies decay and Zombie brains decay, they are also mindless automatons. That's why Dawn of the Dead is such a great satiric movie--the Zombies invade a mall and depict American consumerism as a violent, gory evil.

More recently, the British Zombie movie 28 Days Later was really really fun. It even has a happy ending... for a zombie movie.

Jenn said...

Marcus--I took the liberty of posting your comments "anonymously" myself, because they were good ones. Thanks for both the serious thoughts and the less-so. I just have to ask, though--you have experience with zombies?

dave grosser said...

Speaking of, Dinosaur Comics has an especially awesome cartoon about zombies today:

Jenn said...

Yay--Dinosaur Comics! I liked the antisolipsism one, myself.