I had turned sixteen when I noticed changes in my zombie body. I discovered this out in a round about way.
Ever since entering middle school, I had skipped the required exercise and sports activities due to an ingenious doctor’s note my mother had forged. It said that I suffered from a debilitating asthma that manifested itself if I exercised or got my heart beat pumping. To avoid acute asthma attacks I was to be excused from school athletics.
The ruse had worked well during 7th and 8th grade. I didn’t have to do any of the jumping jacks, sprints and other activities other kids my age had to do. Of course, I loved running and exercise, like any kid would, but wanted to avoid school sports because it would inevitably lead to me having to shower with the other boys in school. A shower meant the make-up would wash off and my zombie identity could easily be discovered.
To get my daily exercise in, I took to running early in the morning from my house to Lincoln Park and back. It was about a two-mile run. There was a slight chance one of my classmates might see me and report it to school officials but I figured who’d be up at five in the morning? It was worth the risk.
One day I returned home from my morning run and showered as I usually do. I was about to apply my daily body make-up to turn my pale skin brown when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. There was something wrong. It took a moment for me to realize what it was.
My skin no longer had the pasty white zombie pallor!
Oh, I wasn’t brown to be sure. But just very, very Caucasian looking. Almost like an albino, but not that extreme.
I rushed to my mother in the kitchen
“‘Ama, mira! Look at me. Do you see something different?”
She turned from preparing my cesos and egg breakfast and looked me over.
“You haven’t put on enough make-up mijo, you’re almost looking Mexican but not quite.”
“Mom, I haven’t put on ANY make-up this morning! I just got out of the shower.”
“Que?” she asked. She came over and examined my hands and forearms, then my face.
“Mijo, you’re right. Your skin is losing that look of death. You’re looking…púes, almost human!”
“What can it mean mom?”
“No se, mijo. But you should still put on your make-up. Everyone knows you as a Mexican child and you need to keep looking like one. If they see you like this, there’ll be questions asked.”
I started to go back to the bathroom when my mom stopped me.
“Mijo,” she said coming over and sniffing me. “You’ve already put on your deodorant this morning, que no?
I suddenly got what she was getting at. I sniffed my forearms and my underarms. The heavy smell of death with which I had become so accustomed was still there but was much less noticeable.
“I guess, I should tone down the patchouli, huh?”
“Yes, mijo. You should look and smell the same as you always have. We don’t want any questions asked”
For the next several days I was careful to try to look the way I always did. I toned down the amount of make-up and the patchouli I used to mask the smell of death. No one at school seemed to notice any change.
But I was mystified by these changes in my body. What did it all mean? Was this some kind of late zombie puberty? Where would it end?
For a while, it was just an inconvenience– me having to be extra careful to match my Mexican look from day to day.
But then another issue surfaced–Halloween was approaching.
For years I looked forward to this day because it was the one day of the year when I didn’t have to put on my make-up. I could just look like my zombie self and go trick or treating without any make-up or patchouli. Everyone thought I was in costume. For Halloween I was always went as myself, a zombie.
But with this new change in my skin color I’d have to actually put on zombie make-up if I still wanted to look like myself.
For the next week, I was consumed by one thought.
What would I be for Halloween this year?
Copyright 2012 Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.