‘Tiny drunks’ dressed up for Halloween
Shanell wrote to me earlier this year, to ask me if I’d ever heard of James Breakwell.
I was pretty sure I hadn’t.
Then Shanell asked me hadn’t I ever seen those funny conversations with kids that get posted on Twitter.
And I told her, unapologetically, that I had no idea what the point of Twitter even is, let alone how to use it. Because my knowledge of technology peaked in 1997. With AOL.
So Shanell snorted and rolled her eyes (we were on Facebook Messenger — the ICQ of today, but the eye roll was palpable), and she told me, “James Breakwell wrote a book.” And he was looking for people to read it, and then to tell other people about it, before it came out in October.
Ah, October. The month of horror.
Also my most favorite month of the year. I swear to God I will try very nearly anything pumpkin spice flavored. Grits. Biscotti. Soup. Pancakes. I mean, I’m not a single minded devotee of the phenomenon or anything. I’m happy to concede that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is not as good as hot apple cider, or even a chili mocha (and oh my God this town needs Starbucks, stat), but it has its charms. Also, I will plop down on a horror movie literally any time, of any day, ever. But it just feels more magical when the trees are orange and the air smells like campfires and you don’t have to crank the AC to snuggle up under a good, thick, crispy-sounding duvet.
Yeah, I said it.
Don’t even play like you don’t freaking love the crap out of a duvet, dude. One of the heavy ones that feel like those crazy vests the dentist makes you wear during Xrays. It’s like a hug, but from something less threatening than another human being.
And you now know more about my personal hangups than you probably wanted to.
Anyway, I did look up James Breakwell and as soon as I put his name together with Exploding Unicorn I was like, “oh yeahhhh.” And it turns out I did know that dude. As much as we know anyone we’ve never met but feel like we have because of his viral Facebook posts.
What I’m saying is that I knew of that dude. So I sent him an email and before long I had in my hot little hands an advanced reader’s copy of “Only Dead on the Inside,” which hit bookstores like ten minutes ago. No, for real. It came out on Oct. 10. Which is when I’m writing this. As we speak.
It’s officially a real thing.
So I did a little review on my blog and I said how I liked it (true story) and how it was funny (also a true story) and how you should buy it (seriously, peer pressure you guys, do it now). And then I spent the next two months acutely aware of the paralells to be drawn between children and zombies. Not that that’s what the book is about. It’s about how to still be a parent after the zombie apocalypse. Which, in Breakwell’s imagination, is way funnier than it is in mine. In my imagination it’s basically The Road: abject despair cut with an overwhelming sense of dread/impending capital-d Doom until I die of, apparently, tuberculosis.
So, like, any random Tuesday. Basically.
But one of the things that hit me (right between the eyes, like the well-aimed slug of an apocalypse survivor in the skull of a reanimated corpse, you might say) is that Breakwell’s descriptions of the apocalypse are eerily similar to just…again, any random Tuesday. It’s easy to imagine that the bills and the laundry and the dishes and the ever-empty bowl of kibble that belongs to the non-human household members in our lives are the zombies, and that the apocalypse actually has already begun.
That we’ve been living in the apocalypse for years (specifically, however many years we’ve been parents), and never even realized it.
Even parenting itself feels, sort of, at least as eternally frustrating as having to remain alive amid an ever-swelling horde of undead brain-eaters bent on gnawing through our frontal lobes. And kids…at least my kids? Dude, my kids have at least the persistence of an entire zombie horde.
And they have no sense of self-preservation, as evidenced by their perseverative attempts to get me to issue snacks when they’ve, mere moments before, eaten approximately .5 percent of their dinners and then claimed to be “full.”
I’m not saying my kids are dumb.
I’m saying that, as five-year-olds, they lack the necessary prefrontal development required for consistently successful lying, manipulation, or motivational subterfuge. As, I’d argue, do most zombies. I mean, I’m not sure that there is a solid body of neuroscientific theory yet established when it comes to the undead, but it would certainly appear that the hindbrain is the only portion of the zombie “nugget” left intact once full death and the ensuing process of reanimation is complete.
Parenting can often feel like one extended, monotonous exercise in emotional regulation in the face of overwhelming frustration. Think about it. If you are a single mom of a human being age five or under, when is the last time you pooped in the narcotic blissfuless that is absolute solitude?
Been a long time, hasn’t it?
Just like real zombies, eventually even a locked door won’t keep your spawn off your case. Even if they can’t actually get into the bathroom, their fingers can. And will. Under the door. And I am so, so sure that their high-pitched squeals of indignant entitlement, their vocal protests to your pilfered personal break, can be heard by NOAA’s oceanic acoustic monitoring equipment, one thousand leagues beneath the sea, man.
And you’ll feel like a piece of garbage for barricading yourself out of reach even for a short time.
A certain amount of time without a break from children, to do grownup stuff, like watch Colbert and drink merlot, will absolutely leave you feeling braindead, too.
I mean, do you remember my “kids are basically tiny drunks” argument?
This is the same argument, dressed up for Halloween.
So. To distill this aimless meandering into my addled (but not yet zombified) mind:
1. James Breakwell wrote a book that you might better read.
2. October and duvets are what I live for.
3. Your children are basically monsters. And that’s okay.