In defense of my seemingly bad parenting, Jellybean has been around ghosts and ghouls, demons and vampires since she was too little to be terrified. She has played with my KISS dolls (I mean, “action figures”) for hours. She can quote lines from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which she has watched late at night, right before going to bed. These have had no lasting effects, no bad dreams.
Heck, My Lovely Wife, who hates all things horror, doesn’t mind zombie movies. She doesn’t even cover her eyes when the zombies are ripping some hapless victim limb from limb and chewing on their flesh. Sure, it’s gross, but there’s really nothing scary about zombies.
Jellybean would beg to differ.
It was Sunday afternoon and we had nothing better to do, so My Lovely Wife and I started watching the awesome AMC show The Walking Dead, which is all about this post-zombie apocalypse where this band of survivors, led by a small-town sheriff — who, for reasons I’ve yet to understand, refuses to take off his wide-brimmed hat — attempts to outrun and outwit the ever-growing hoard of cannibalistic undead.
I guess Little House on the Prairie wasn’t on.
It took about four minutes before we realized the gravity of our decision.
As soon as the survivors were huddled under an abandoned car, hands covering their mouths in an effort to stifle screams as the zombies lurched by, Jellybean was squealing under the covers in terror.
We turned it off, switched on Thor and assumed all was forgotten. That was, until nightfall, when the questions started.
“Why were those people hiding under the cars?” “Were the zombies gonna eat them?” “Will the zombies come and eat me?” “Where do zombies go to sleep?” “Do you think the zombies would eat Lady Gaga?” “Are you strong enough to beat up the zombies?” “Why do the zombies look like that — all gross and bloody — is that just how God made them?”
Needless to say, Jellybean slept with us that night.
Three days later, when Jellybean was home sick with yet another bout of strep throat (can the doctors pull those tonsils out already?), I was still paying the price for her zombie exposure.
As soon as Jellybean was engaged in something on TV or playing with her American Girl dolls, I’d sneak off to my office to work on a story about — you guessed it — zombies. (Note the front page of this section.)
In the midst of my research, Jellybean sashayed up to my side, noticed the gruesome pictures of people in horror-movie makeup, put her hands on her hips and lit me up.
“Why are you lookin’ at those zombies?” she asked with a head bob. “You know those zombies scare me.”
I tried to explain that I was writing a story about zombies, and that the zombies were pretend, just people wearing costumes. Jellybean would have none of it.
“You can’t write a story about zombies,” she said, pulling me away from the computer. “Write a story about princesses. Princesses are sweet and don’t eat people.”
Wonder if my editor will go for that story instead?
Editor’s note: Only if they’re zombie princesses.