Okay, I haven’t been as forthright as I might have. I’ve kinda of glossed over a major zombie trait that I began noticing when I was six or seven and that was a real unavoidable, unmistakable and really troubling reality for me by the time I was fifteen.
I craved human flesh.
This is tough for me. Because I know all the stereotypes of zombies eating people and all of that! Believe me, in general I’d much rather have a good bowl of cow brains than a chunk of human flesh. Most of the time. But the truth of the matter is that everyone now and then the zombie in me would come out.
I first noticed it one day when I fourteen. My mom had set some mouse traps under the sink in the kitchen and one morning while my mom was still asleep I discovered the trap had caught a mouse by the tail. The mouse was still very much alive, struggling to free itself from the trap.
It looked delicious!
My first instinct–and I use the word very carefully–was to eat the mouse.
But an inner voice stepped forward.
Actually, it was the voice of Hermano Valdez from El Templo del Señor and the sermon he had preached the week previously. The sermon had been about sinning. In my mind I could hear his voice booming and echoing off the church walls.
“Hermanos y hermanas, hay que combatirla la tentacion!”
He went on about how we must be prepared to fight life’s many temptations. How the Good Lord had given us the ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil. This is what makes us different from all of God’s other creations. And how we must not give in to temptation. How we must nurture that inner voice in us that wanted us to do right and not sin.
Well, as I looked down at the trapped mouse, my inner voice was saying that killing and eating it, no matter how tasty it looked, was wrong. Okay, I’m not sure if it qualified as a bonafide sin. I mean I had never read anywhere in the Bible, “Thou shalt not kill mice.” But, still, I knew it was wrong to take the mouse’s life. Eating rats and cats I found already dead was one thing, but taking a life to satisfy my zombie cravings was something else.
I struggled with this moral dilemma for a long moment.
In my heart of hearts I knew the difference between right and wrong. If I gave in to my temptation–and that mouse looked SO tasty–I would not be the kind of zombie that I wanted to be.
I wanted to be a good zombie not an evil zombie. Now, I didn’t have any good zombie role models to imitate, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t be my own good zombie role model. It was my choice to make.
Finally, I lifted the metal bar off the mouse’s tail and set it free.
It may seem like no big deal. But for me, setting the mouse free was a decisive moment in my life. It meant that I could overcome my zombie cravings. It meant I had control over the kind of Mexican zombie I would be in life.
A few days later, I was sitting next in class at school next to Beto Ramirez. The teacher was lecturing about medieval castles and the “moat” and the “portcullis.” Beto and I were totally bored and we had decided to play a game of tic-tac-toe. We’d take turns jotting down our “x”s on a notepad that we slid back and forth from his desk to mine. Once, when he handed me the notepad, his hand came really close to my face. Just for an instant, I had an urge to bite into Beto’s hand. It looked so tasty.
Then my inner voice kicked in.
No, that’s not what good Mexican zombies do!
Copyright 2012 Lazaro de la Tierra and Barri Dog Productions Inc.