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obsessive compulsive zombie disorder

At some point, every child learns the valuable lesson of patience. Patience is a virtue, we tell them. Good things come to those who wait. Patience and fortitude conquer all things. (use of which always hammers home the point that Emerson is not quotable to the under 14 set).

dotd2.jpgMost kids learn the value of having patience through the anticipation the arrival of Santa Claus or the countdown to a long awaited family vacation. Not my son. He met his patience challenge with zombies.

The Dawn of the Dead DVD finally arrived on the shelves of our local Best Buy yesterday. I, like any good mother would, used my lunch hour yesterday to go buy my eleven year old son the unedited, unrated version of a zombie movie.

But oh, the look on his face when I got home. It looked something like this. As I pulled up in front of the house, he came lumbering out of the front door, approaching the car with arms extended, legs all awkward and moaning like he hadn't had a good brain to eat in days. He grabbed the DVD from my hand, mumbled something about brains and sped off to his room.

Hours later (those hours interrupted by a bout of homework and a trip to religious ed) he emerged from his room, wild-eyed and grinning.

So, was it worth the wait?
Well, you know how sometimes you think something is the greatest thing ever, that nothing can ever beat it?
So, I though all this time that Dawn of the Dead was the greatest movie ever, but now that I'm watching it again, it's not. But that's good.
Good, how?

'Cause if I saw the best movie ever when I'm 11, then there would be nothing to look forward to.

Ah, the mind of a young boy.

It was interesting to watch him wait for the arrival of this DVD. He had a countdown going on his computer. Every day, he would announce how many days left until the release. Every Friday, he would go to the movie site, where they would show a different clip each week. While he was waiting, he took the time to become an expert on all things zombie. He read through my copy of The Zombie Survival Guide. He watched other zombie movies like the original Night of the Living Dead (review: awesome for an old flick!) and 28 Days Later (review: that wasn't a zombie movie! HUGE rip-off!) and then we went to see Shaun of the Dead (review: can we sit through it again? Please?!). (I tell you, it was a very proud moment for this mother when he got the "We're coming to get you Barbara" reference in Shaun.) He scoured the internet for stories about zombies, learned how to kill them, how to summon them and how to dress like one for Halloween.

To say he obsesses about things is an understatement. Once DJ takes a liking to something, he goes all out with it. Not content to just watch a zombie movie, he has to completely submerge himself in the zombie lore and culture. His world becomes a focused, intent place in which he will take his given obsession of the moment and relate it to anything that is happening around him.

This obsessive sort of behavior started very early. When he was about two years old, he had a collection of little Disney movie figures that he kept in a plastic bin. These figures were collected via many trips to McDonald's or Toys R Us and, let me tell you, it was a very complete collection. Because you couldn't have just one Little Mermaid figure. You had to have them all. Once I bought Ariel, it was a slippery slope right down to Eric, King Trident and that sea hag that looked like a fat, wet Malificent. Yes, I was enabling his addiction. Make no mistake about where DJ got his obsessive compulsive trait from.

Anyhow, one day we were putting his toys away for the evening. As usual, he had them all lined up around the living room in the straightest line possible, one little Disney character after another. I'd say there was about 80 figures in his collection at that time. I gathered them all up and threw them in the bin, which I then placed in his room, right next to his bed, per the usual routine. Five minutes after I left him in his room I heard a scream. I went running back in and found DJ staring in horror at the jumble of plastic figures in the bin.

Ho-hant-as? Ho-hant-as? He was pointing at the figures. I looked at my son, looked at the bin and though, no way. Sure enough, I went into the living room, got on my hands and knees, and found Pocohantas under the radiator. That, my friends, is what you call obsessive. A two year old looking into a tub filled to the brim with little plastic princes and animals and widowers knew immediately that his Ho-hant-as was missing.

And that was just the first of all the obsessive phases DJ went through. Power Rangers. Star Wars. Oh god, the Star Wars phase. He was three and knew every single character, vehicle and weapon. And the sports. He didn't just watch baseball or hockey or football. He lived, ate and breathed those sports. He knew Don Mattingly's batting average on days when it was below 75 degrees. He knew the number of every player on every NHL team. He picked my football teams for the office pool every week when he was five. With point spreads. I came in first place that year.

The phases would go as fast as they would arrive, and I'd be left with boxes of paraphenelia associated with the various obsessions. This is what happens when a woman with an addictive personality has a son with obsessive traits. I fed his action figure/trading card/video game hunger with reckless abandon. Pokemon? We caught them all.

At some point, I learned to stop feeding his obsessive needs. Probably when I sat down and figured out how much money I spent on all that Pokemon crap. But something went wrong when DJ started his horror movie phase. I couldn't help it. All those years of restraint had built up against the wall I created and the dam burst. Can you blame me? What better way for mother and son to bond than over a love of horror movies? What says quality time more than a shared viewing of George Romero classics? What better dinner conversation starter is there than:

Mom, if I got bit by a zombie would you kill me before or after I turned into one?

I gave him a blank stare. He turned to his stepfather.

Ok, Justin. What about you?

Justin didn't even blink. "I'd shoot you as soon as you got bit. Right between the eyes."

I blanched in horror. "You would not do any such thing. How could you kill my son while he was still....him?" I imagined the scenario in my mind. DJ writhing on the floor, blood pouring from his zombie infected wound, the undead hovering around him, waiting for dinner. My motherly instincts kicked in. "I would wait. I would wait until I saw that you were no longer my son, but some hideous creature. Then I would kill you. Maybe."

I looked expectantly at him. He stared hard at me.

"Bzzzz. Wrong answer! Justin is right!" DJ shook his head disapprovingly and Justin sat there all smug, laughing.

"I would expect you to kill me, mom. You don't take chances with the undead. Duh."

Duh. Well, at least we were actually conversing over dinner instead of watching the Simpsons and that's always something to be happy about. Even if the conversation did revolve around zombies.

And so, everything is zombies today and will be until this new DVD wears out its welcome, which probably won't be anytime soon given all the extras on it*. DJ will pop out from under the couch at odd times pretending to bite us and he'll quiz us on various aspects of zombie survival. And he'll critique the movie to no end.

Modern zombies suck, he says. They're too fast and they think too much. He thinks the movie would have been better if the zombies were more like those in Night of the Living Dead.

Of course, he still thinks it was worth the wait and all the countdowns. I'm just glad that part of it is over, as he can now concentrate on things like, oh, how many days until his book report ('Salem's Lot) is due.

I was about to mention this to him last night when he said "How many days until Land of the Dead?"

Well, at least this particular obsession doesn't cost me much money. And I'm really glad he's keeping his obsession with Lindsay Lohan's boobs mostly to himself.

* One part of the extras is the anatomy of exploding heads.


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» Speaking of Zombies.... from The LLama Butchers
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"I would expect you to kill me, mom. You don't take chances with the undead. Duh."

Best. Quote. Ever.

Salem's Lot huh? I remember reading that book when I was a preteen. Not because it was a great horror tale (which it surely is) but because there's sex in it. Hey, this was before the rise of internet porn, and the victoria's secret catalog just didn't do it for me.

This year my boys are very bored with the Scooby Doo and Disney halloween shows, I pulled out Night of the Living Dead. They thought it was lame , black and white. After about 10 minutes I hear "woah, that is soooo cool" and they didn't blink. Our first introduction to zombies. I was so proud.

I just don't know what to think, now that zombies are everywhere. It's exactly like when you have your one favorite band that very, very few people have heard of, and you sort of like it that way, but then they get really big and everyone's running around with them on their t-shirt, and you don't know what to think. One day, you're renting "Day of the Dead" from the local video store and relishing the strange looks you're getting from people because of it, and the next day, you go to return the tape (which has now transmogrified into a DVD) and everyone's like, "That looks stupid. Is that like a 'Resident Evil' ripoff or something?"

The upside, I guess, to the current zombie mania is just that more zombie movies are being made and released. Bad ones AND good ones. Hollywood knows it can make a buck off of them, so they're doing it. If the end, net result is more zombie films, then that = good. Ol' George Romero might never have gotten his final 4th zombiefest off the ground if not for the newfound public appreciation of movies where dead people walk around trying to bite you.

Hey Michelle,

ever seen the movie 28 Days? A british flick done completely with digital cameras...gave a nice look to things. A very british take on all things zombie-ish.

The real zombies will strike on November 2nd.

I'm still stunned that you would kill your son after he turned into a zombie. That's just wrong. And I'm shocked (shocked!) that you said it.

What kinda soft, liberal whacko are you turning into up there? I don't even know you anymore.

"You don't take chances with the undead. Duh."

Duh, indeed. Duh, indeed.

I love DJ posts. He seems to come up with the most interesting conversations!

'Salem's Lot is a good King book but it's sequel is more interesting.

Patience? How long will that take?

My young cousin is cultivating quite the obsession with the dead and undead... I can't wait to give her her first copy of Night of the Living Dead for X-mas. And it will be extra-creepy since it takes place near my hometown!

You can take a zombie-fighting seminar at the University of Georgia, although I don't think it counts toward your GPA.

Yay! I'm not the only one obsessed enough with zombie flicks to have actually spent money on the Zombie Survival Guide! We consider it a coffee table book in my house. And I used it as a refrence work in a speech for school a little while ago (and I'm a 23 yr old college student, mind you; my teacher was a bit put off by my informative speech: "How to survive the Zombocolypse")

I hope, should I ever have kids, they turn out as cool as DJ. Good for you :)

Even though I never want to have children, if I did, I'd hope they were half as cool as that.

Damn, it must be genetic...

Got my copy, unfortunately it's just the regular version. The lady at the store lied to me telling me the widescreen was the special edition. Hopefully they will refund my money. Otherwise I'm gonna have to foist this copy off on one of my friends and buy the unrated version, yes I'll be spending more money but I love this movie. Time to go monkey down with the sickness.

But where is the SOUNDTRACK?

Gotta have a copy of the "lounge" version of "Down With the Sickness"

I have the Unrated Dawn of The Dead DVD now, and much coolness ensued. Be sure to check out Andy's story in the extras.

""Bzzzz. Wrong answer! Justin is right!" DJ shook his head disapprovingly and Justin sat there all smug, laughing.

"I would expect you to kill me, mom. You don't take chances with the undead. Duh.""

Damn that kid is smart. You know those kids in action/apocalyptic films, the ones no one listens to but in the end they know stuff that saves the lives of the hero and heroine?

That's your son. Someday someone is going to be all "The meteor is going to strike the earth, and the gamma-7 rays are causing the dead to rise" and he's gonna be all "HEY, JUST BECAUSE I'M A KID DOESN'T MAKE ME DUMB. SHUT UP AND LISTEN. A coherent tachyon beam, issued through the big dish at Arecibo, will interrupt the gamma-7 rays and send the asteroid off course. Then we just sweep and clear the remaining zombies and it's business as usual."

Good. Has he been introduced to Reg Shoe and Windle Poons yet?

"But I'm not dead.
Not alive and not dead.
Sort of non-alive.
Or un-dead.
Oh dear..."

No, I think your son is wrong. If you kill the kid before he turns into a zombie, he turns into a zombie anyway. If you kill him after he turns into a zombie, then you kill him for good.

Now that's bringing a kid up right. I hope Lileks is taking notes.

Bill, you forgot something.

Brain. Destroy the brain. No brain, no zombie.

That kid will be getting a PhD in something. Count on it.

Almost every grad student I know, including me, is obsessive. D.J. sounds exactly like I was when I was a kid.