Friday, February 13, 2015

Costco on a Saturday=Suburban Zombie Apocalypse Training

Living in suburbia, as I now do, is generally fairly peaceful. Yes, we have a full menagerie of unwanted animals making their home in our gigantic yard, which leaves me feeling like Snow White from time to time (although instead of singing at the animals, I’m screaming at them like an angry old man to get off my lawn). But overall, suburbia is peaceful.

Which is why we have Costco.

Because going to Costco on a weekend is the single worst thing you can do in suburbia.  

But it’s necessary. Not just because once you have a house, you need to buy all of the toilet paper in the world to fill it, but also because it’s the only training ground that we suburbanites have for the zombie apocalypse.

Your training begins in the parking lot, which closely resembles what the world will look like after most of humanity falls prey to the deadly disease that will cause zombie-ism, but before the zombies rise back from the dead. It’s a sea of abandoned cars, where it’s necessary to practice dodging around the remaining people, children running amok, wayward shopping carts, and cars filled with the elderly. Danger is everywhere.

If you have survived parking (and the torment of watching people spend nine years trying to back an SUV into a parking space…which I will NEVER understand. The whole purpose of Costco is to buy items in such quantities as to necessitate the use of your trunk. WHY WOULD YOU BACK YOUR CAR IN AND MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO REACH YOUR TRUNK???), you have to show your membership card at the door. This is NOT actually to keep non-members out. The real reason they have this protective barrier at the gate is to make you think about whether you actually want to descend into the hell that is Costco on a weekend. It’s not too late to turn back yet!

Except it is, because you already parked. And it’s not worth fighting that parking lot again to come back on another day because even though Costco itself may be less crowded on a weekday, the zombified parking lot won’t be.

So in you go. Your first thought may be that you’ve entered a foreign country, which is understandable because it resembles the airport scene in Romancing the Stone.  Rest assured, you’re still in the United States, but zombie apocalypse training has begun in earnest.
 
In the early stages of the store, it’s not so bad. The zombies are just starting to turn, and unlike the crazed rage-virus/World War Z (the movie, not the book) zombies, they’re still fairly docile at this stage. And it’s time to stock up with the supplies you’ll need to survive the rest of the store/apocalypse. You can grab inordinate amounts of Ziploc bags, sponges, Kirkland-brand clothes, batteries, etc. 

But make sure you visit the sporting equipment area because you’ll need something to fight off the hordes when you get to food. I recommend a samurai sword. It’s Costco. They have them. They have everything.

The problems start as you near the baked goods. Now if you’re smart and/or paleo, you don’t eat baked goods and therefore don’t NEED to visit this section. But you have to cross it to get to the rest of the food, so you’re screwed either way. This will be your first encounter with the zombie masses
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The next stage of your training will really depend on how hungry you are when you arrive at Costco, how much willpower you have, and whether you possess any athletic ability. 
 

If you’re not hungry or have the willpower to avoid whatever delicious treat the sample lady is providing to the zombies, then this is a great opportunity for you to practice sneaking past hungry zombie herds. You have to be careful so that they don’t turn on you, but this is an important skill to possess in the zombie apocalypse. There will be times when you have to sneak past the zombies in order to survive. And you want to be able to do that without hiding in a bathtub like that Will Smith coward!


The trick is vigilance. Wait until the sample lady is JUST ABOUT to start serving something. Because if you’re standing there when she runs out of food, you’re going to become the food. And if you’re walking by when she’s serving, it’s going to feel like the running of the bulls. The zombies won’t care, they’re just going to trample you to get to the delicious serving of brains/sponge cake that’s being given out. So when the zombies begin massing toward the sample, you RUN past them. Don’t hesitate. Don’t look back. Just run. And if anyone gets in your way, that’s why you have a cart! Plow them down! It’s kill or be killed!

You’re now in the most dangerous part of the survival maze because there are sample stations everywhere. The middle of the aisles are generally safe, but you’re in serious peril at ever crossroad. And the zombies have gotten their blood sugar up from the baked goods they sampled first and are now starving and descending en masse on any sample station they can find. 
 

You’re outnumbered here. If you use the trick from baked goods of waiting until they begin serving, you’ll die. Believe me. Once the zombies know the samples are coming, they’ll rip you limb from limb to get a good spot to wait for them. I still have the scars from the time I happened to reach for a case of Greek yogurt just as the sample lady was pulling pizza bagel bites out of the toaster oven. It wasn’t pretty, and some wounds never heal.

Instead, you have to sneak past the outer perimeter of the herd while the food is being prepared. They’re in rest state at that time, as long as you don’t disturb them. If, however, you try to blend in for a sample and don’t stay on the outer perimeter, you won’t live through the day.

But, Sara, pizza bagel bites are delicious! I have to try one!


You poor, poor fool!

Okay, here goes. Remember that samurai sword or other weapon you grabbed in the sporting goods section? Strap it to your back so that you can access it, but don’t go in wielding it. If we’ve learned anything from South Park, it’s that you can’t go around decapitating zombies left and right! 
 
If you want to make it to the food, you have to blend in with the zombie throng. If you have any cold cuts in your cart, putting them on your face Silence of the Lambs style to make it look like you’re already half eaten will help. If not, any random blood will do. Rend your clothes, slow your walk to an undead amble, and mumble gibberish. If you speak another language, that’s fine to use, if not, make a lot of guttural sounds—zombies speak a language very similar to Yiddish. 

Above all, do NOT make eye contact!

Slowly follow the zombies to the food source, grab yours quickly and then run as fast and as far as you can. If you get stuck, use the sword! That’s why you have it! GO! 

Assuming you have made it this far, you’re home free! Until, that is, you get to the unending series of lines, at which point you wait. And wait. The process of which coagulates your blood until you begin to feel like one of the zombies yourself. Try not to gnaw anyone’s limbs off as they stack your things in your cart without bags. It’s the ability to keep from eating the other people that makes the distinction between us and them at this stage.

Then you’re just a sharpie mark on a receipt away from freedom! Or at least the parking lot.

And just think, you get to do it all over again next weekend.

Ah, suburbia.




Monday, February 9, 2015

I ain't afraid of no ghost--because I own a house

While home sick this week, I decided to take the opportunity to do something I never get to do now that I’m married. I watched a horror movie.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the Hubby can’t even handle the evil queen scenes in a Disney movie. The second there’s scary music and a darkened room, he’s out. When I started watching American Horror Story, I had to shut it off before he would even enter the room because the opening credits were too scary for him.  (Granted, I haven't been in our basement since watching Murder House.  But the Hubby doesn't need to know that!)

But he’s cute and he puts up with Downton Abbey, New Girl, Game of Thrones, and Orange is the New Black, despite claiming to hate all four of them (which is clearly a blatant lie, but whatever). And I prefer horror books to horror movies anyway, so I didn’t consider giving up my scary movies to be much of a sacrifice. And I can still watch them when he’s not home, which makes them even better because then I get the additional fear factor of NOT having him there to protect me from the evil monsters in the television.

So I sat down (okay laid down with Rosie, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues—I WAS sick after all) to watch The Conjuring. And wound up browsing Wayfair on my phone for living room furniture, the prices of which scared me more than the movie.

It’s not that I’m unscare-able. I’m quite scare-able. I still haven’t watched the clown doll scene in Poltergeist. I know the kid lives. I know the doll isn’t real. But as soon as it’s off that chair, I’m out. Too scary.

I think the real problem is home ownership. The premise of haunted house movies SHOULD terrify home owners. You’re moving into a new space and you have no idea what else could be living in there with you.   And that's basically how every haunted house movie starts.

Although I've definitely gained a greater appreciation for why the family always stays in the house.  Like as a kid, I'd be yelling at the screen for the stupid family to just move out.  But now, I get it.  We sank our entire life-savings into our house, plus all of our wedding present money into fixing it up.  I don't care if the walls bleed, there are monsters in the closets, or some demonic voices telling us to GET OUT.  I'll tell them to either shut up or get out themselves.  We're going nowhere!

However, since buying our dream house a year ago, I’ve discovered that there are far worse problems that a house can have than a couple of malicious spirits.

Like the toxic mold in our air vents. While the Hubby claims that I’m sick from October to April, that’s typically not entirely true. Yes, as a teacher, I get sick a little more often than the average professional (thanks, kids, for sneezing all over my computer keyboard every time you sit at it. I appreciate that oh so much). But I’ve had a chronic cough that no course of modern medicine or even good, old-fashioned chicken soup from my grandma will fix since we moved in. So the Hubby decided it was time to get the air vents cleaned. I agreed, bought a Groupon, and a nice Israeli man came and ripped all of our painted-over vents off the wall (thanks previous homeowners) and cleaned one square inch inside each one, then showed us what the rest of our vents looked like and told us the exorbitant sum it will cost to get that scum out of our house.

Pretty sure an exorcism is cheaper and more effective than that.

Not to mention the other problem that the air-vent skimmer showed us. Apparently our dryer vent was made of paper. Not metal. Not even plastic. Literal, flammable-as-all-hell paper.

Which, while scary, was not entirely surprising to us, because we have long-since discovered that the previous homeowners were the cheapest people on the planet. Mr. Previous Homeowner considered himself quite the handyman, and he therefore he did all of the wiring and electrical work in the house himself. Which means that everything is a fire-hazard. Our electrician’s eyes literally displayed dollar signs when he saw what was going on in our unlabeled fuse box.

But the fire hazards didn’t disappear when we fixed the wiring. When we pulled out the old, hideous wood-burning stove insert in the hopes of having a working fireplace, we discovered that there was no fireplace liner and that all of the 1970s tiles that predated liners in our chimney were cracked, coated in creosote from numerous chimney fires, and basically guaranteed to burn our house down if we even attempted to build a fire. Twenty-five hundred dollars later, we had a working fireplace.

Of course, the working fireplace was a necessity because every time the wind blows, a tree falls down in our backyard. Which was terrifying because many of those trees are close enough to our house to cause severe damage, but also because sometimes the trees don’t fall entirely--instead they have massive severed hanging limbs waiting to fall on poor innocent Rosie while she sniffs out the herds of deer and foxes that inherit our yard. And adding to the fear factor there is the price-tag that comes with any tree work.

Because as handy as Hubby and I can be, shimmying a tree with a chainsaw to hack off dangerously dangling limbs is not in our repertoire.

But the working fireplace is necessary for more than just the burning off all of the surfeit of wood that now takes up ¾ of our half-acre yard—because possibly one of the scariest things about home ownership is the cost of heating our house in winter. While I know that ghosts are said to lower the temperature in a house, they only do it in the rooms that they’re in. And our house is cold in all rooms. We replaced the ancient French patio doors that literally had gaps at the top and bottom and we put on fireplace doors, both of which helped. But keeping the house above 62 degrees costs more than a ten night Springsteen stand at the Meadowlands.

The bottom line of which is that I would gladly trade some poltergeists for certain elements of the realities of home-ownership. Granted, ghosts can interfere with a good night’s sleep, but I’m an insomniac anyway. And a haunting would provide excellent fodder for a new book, which could eventually help assuage some of the costs of our typical household horrors.

At least until we have kids. Because that looks like it hurts a lot and the cost of college these days is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.