Monday, August 9, 2021

Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: On Watching The Walking Dead

Carlos Flores, "Refogios," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.
Carlos Flores, "Refogios," exhibited at the Chamizal, El Paso, Texas. October 2016.


I'm visiting Missouri for a time.

My hostess, Kate, has Netflix. All 10 of the past seasons of The Walking Dead are there. 

In October 2016, nearing the endgame of the ever-more appalling Trump campaign and its collateral hate-mongering, I abruptly abandoned The Walking Dead in the middle of Season 7, Episode 1 - in angry disgust at what felt to me like firsthand, sadistic, slow-motion, elongated mental torture, especially, perhaps, because I personally knew women and men who had been terrorized, in real life, by people exactly like this Walking Dead character. I never returned.

Until this month. 

August 2021. 

With the second tsunami of COVID surging over our land, largely the result of too many Americans who opted out (and continue to opt out) of the two most powerful weapons against our real-life viral undead: vaccines and masks. 

So as soon as I saw all 10 seasons of The Walking Dead on Kate's Netflix menu, I knew.

The Walking Dead was exactly what I needed. Need

I knew it because: 

I first started watching The Walking Dead in Opelousas. One day, after I had binge-watched the series for some days or weeks, I was in the Opelousas Walmart, and I experienced a fascinating phenomenon. In rounding the end cap from one aisle and into another, my mental antennae bounced up. My brain snapped into alert mode, my senses at the ready for ....... what? 

Oh. Zombies, apparently! 

I laughed at myself, but it made me think.

Watching the fictional The Walking Dead had awakened something in me. I had already discovered how the constant tension and fearful suspense of each episode had been cathartic in releasing real-life tensions I didn't even know I had.  

But this new phenomenon at Walmart - the alertness, the readiness for what might happen - it felt good. It imbued me with a feeling of power. Weird, but ... there it was.

The magic is still there today. In watching The Walking Dead upon my return to Missouri, in this second tidal wave of COVID, it empowers me. That short-lived thrill at the beginning of July, when I relished a summer of dance and live music and meeting with old friends - dead. So, too, is the mourning for what I thought the summer would be. 

In its place, thanks in part to The Walking Dead, is a pragmatic acceptance and a calm determination to just deal with it. I've had the vaccinations. I never stopped wearing masks inside stores. If reliable medical sources tell me a third booster shot is appropriate in the future, then I'll get it.

I walk out of stores where too many employees and too many customers have naked faces.

Not out of fear, hell no. 

No, I carry a pragmatic, calm determination out of the acceptance that:

  • The viral undead are just going to do what all viruses do. They don't give a fuck about our faith in a deity, about our age, about our level of fitness, our gender, our politics, or what news channels we watch. They have only one mission: Infect, reproduce, and spread.
  • At least 50% of the people I encounter on the outside opted out of the vaccines or masks. At this point, I don't care why.
  • I walk among infected hosts every time I leave my safe shelter.

During this madness, I turn to my Cs: practical caution, confidence, calm, and courage. The Walking Dead boosts my mental game. I walk as if I were carrying a sword like Michonne's.

Michonne and her sword, The Walking Dead.
Michonne and her sword, The Walking Dead. Credit: AMC

Note: But when I get to Season 7, I'll skip the first five episodes. I won't willingly expose myself to abuse again, neither in real life nor make-believe.






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