Ray Clifton – Zombies in the South

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently made news with the release of a report entitled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” Now a lot of people made fun of this (most notably Fox News), but I get it. The CDC is using the huge popularity of Zombie-themed movies and shows in an attempt to persuade the American public to prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes or pandemics. The report recommends simple precautions like having an emergency supply kit and a few days of fresh water in reserve.

It probably wasn’t the brightest marketing campaign ever devised, but I give the CDC an “A” for effort.

They are certainly dead on (no pun intended) that Zombies are a hot commodity.

I think it all began in the 1970’s with “Night of the Living Dead,” a movie that was advertised as “so terrifying that movie patrons are fainting in their seats.” I saw that one as a teenager, and although I didn’t faint or even find it particularly scary, I have to admit that it had a really cool ending.

“Night” spawned a number of sequels and knockoffs, but few packed the original’s bite and Zombie interest sort of died out (no pun intended).

Interest revived (no pun intended) a few years ago with a couple of pretty good Zombie comedy spoofs: “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” While both were funny, my personal favorite was the latter, mainly because it had a set of rules to live by for the “un-dead”: 1.Cardio; 2. Double-tap; 3. Beware of bathrooms; 4. Wear seat belts; 5. Check the back seat, etc,.

Zombie-mania is now at an all-time high due to an AMC television show, “The Walking Dead.” It’s a Sunday night staple at my house. The story details the trials and travails of a group of survivors of a Zombie apocalypse. It begins in Atlanta and follows the group as they make their way toward Fort Benning, GA, where they hope the military can provide safe harbor from the hordes of Zombies that roam the Georgia country side.

The Walking Dead” is not overrun (no pun intended) with acting ability, but it is an entertaining story. I find it plausible because I believe that Southerners are well-suited to survive a Zombie attack.

Consider the facts, if you will:

1. We have been invaded before, first in the 1860’s and then later by Yankees seeking a better place to live. We have survived both invasions and still maintain our unique identity;

2. We subsist quite comfortably on garden produce and canned meat products;

3. In any random sample of ten Southerners, at least four know how to hunt.

4. We are proficient at hand-to-hand combat, which was illustrated at most Walmart stores this past “Black Friday.”

5. A gun lives at every house.

It will take more than hordes of flesh-eating Zombies to defeat the South. We can only be defeated by one thing: snow.

I began to hear murmurings on Thanksgiving Day. “Did you hear that they are predicting snow on Monday night?”

The frantic pitch picked up throughout the weekend. By Sunday night the prediction had increased to “possibly two to four inches.”

In Montgomery yesterday, I noticed people looking up at the sky, as if they were somehow trying to determine if the clouds were laden with snow–like someone from Montgomery would actually know what a snow cloud looked like if they saw one.

As I write this, I have no doubt that every grocery store in the north half of Alabama is now completely stripped of bread, milk, and batteries. It happens every time snow is predicted. These three items are apparently all we believe we need to survive.

I don’t know if the South will ever face a “Zombie Apocalypse.”

But one thing is certain: the CDC can be confident that we will be the ones full of loaf bread and milk and our flashlights will be shining brightly.

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