“Kick him in the nards! KICK.HIM.IN.THE.NARDS!”
For twenty years, my only self-defense tactic was something I learned from the 1980’s horror-comedy classic Monster Squad. So when I heard about the Zombie Self-Defense Course being offered down the street from me at a place called Zomburgh, I enrolled. I figured it might be good to add to my near-empty repertoire of hurtin’, especially if I did find myself contending with a zombie. Perhaps nard-punting wouldn’t work in that situation. Plus, it would give me a chance to meet Kristy in person, a fellow zombie-lover with whom I had become e-friends, who had also enrolled. (She has a zombie lounge in her house! This automatically makes her cooler than most people.)
I arrived at Zomburgh a little before class started at 6. Kristy was already there talking to our instructor Josh, who did not resemble a zombie at all. Norm, Zomburgh’s proprietor, came out and had me sign a release, giving me the option to disallow my photo to be taken. I hate having my photo taken almost as much as I hate driving past water towers, but I decided to be a team player this once. If they try tagging me on Facebook, though, I’m lawyering up.
Josh insisted on waiting for a few more minutes because more people were supposed to come. I felt sorry for him, because I think we all knew no one else was coming. It reminded me of my past parties, where I pace back and forth by the front window with a cheese plate balanced on one hand, and I say in a sing-song tone, “But they RSVP’d! They’ll be here!” while practical Henry is putting away the paté and blowing out seancé candles.
Eventually accepting the fact that he was (shockingly) only going to have us two students, Josh had us kick off our shoes and stand by the purple and green mats laid out in the middle of the room. Meanwhile, Norm ran off to grab his camera, which I hoped had been struck to death by a baseball bat in his absence.
It only took us about 2 minutes to realize that this was essentially just a class to ward off drunk rapists. (Everyone reading this is now shocked.) But I figured it would behoove me to pay attention since I do live with Henry, after all.
Josh asked for a volunteer. I gave Kristy a look which I hoped she read as, “Don’t make me get mean! This was your idea, go!” even though it probably looked more like, “I’m the most unassertive girl you will ever meet, please observe my quivering bottom lip and take one for the team.”
“OK, pretend to be a zombie and walk toward me,” Josh commanded as soon as Kristy stepped on the mat, tossing me a withering glance.
Wait. We had to be the zombies? There was ACTING involved in this shit? Don’t be fooled by all the times people have gone on record saying, “Erin Kelly? Yeah, I know her. She’s a fucking drama queen.” This does not mean I can act. My drama is legit, from the heart — NOT AN ACT! I watched Kristy stagger toward Josh in the patented gait of the undead and tried really hard to pay attention what Josh was saying to us, but all I could think was, “Motherfucker, I’m next. It’s my turn next. I can’t do this I can’t do this I can’t do this. Oh my god, I’m sweating. Maybe I should just plead pregnancy.” (With my gut, that would probably work.)
Meanwhile, Kristy had encroached on Josh’s personal space, at which point he grabbed one of her arms and held it across and against her.
“It’s physically impossible to bite over your own shoulder,” he said, while Kristy chomped at the air. Not something I have ever spent long leisurely afternoons down by the creek trying to accomplish, but now that Josh says I can’t do it, I have a vested interest in defying him.
When it was my turn to play zombie, I was hyper-aware of Norm in the corner, snapping away. I was torn between being the best zombie I could be or hiding my double chin. I tried to make my zombie fall somewhere in the middle of traditional sluggish ambler and the fast-moving breed that zombie purists despise, just so I could reach Josh as fast as possible and bury my undead charade. As soon as I was an arms length from him, he grabbed me by my elbow and forced my arm across my chest, where we then proceeded to fall into a bizarre drunken ballroom number. It was completely awkward and uncomfortable as he forced me all around the room while illustrating to Kristy the control he had over me.
Now that we both had a turn spectating, it was our turn to practice on him.
This guy was not a zombie. He had nary a blood capsule in his mouth, no dangling eyeball, but when he approached me with arms outstretched and mouth all contorted like a stroke victim, my first inclination was to run. RUN, MOTHERFUCKER, RUN. And then run some more. Possibly stop for an Italian ice.
But Josh made me stay in place and go through the motions. I learned very quickly that in the event of an attack, I will lose all situational awareness and forget how to breathe.
It didn’t make me feel very safe, being forced around in sloppy circles while struggling to keep this man’s locked arm taut across his body. He kept breaking character to remind me that I was in control of him, that I should be able to walk into Starbucks and order a latte while keeping him at bay.
I didn’t feel like I could lean an inch to my left and grab a Styrofoam cup of water, let alone be jostled while one-handing a cup steaming with substance hotter than Satan’s jizz.
The ankle-sweep segment was next on the agenda, and just as sensational, only this time Josh got to place his hands on our shoulders.
I don’t even like Henry touching my shoulders. I’m very ticklish there and have been known to pee my pants during the more intense shoulder-touching extravanganzae.
However, I thought I handled myself pretty well. There were a few times I laughed out loud and my instincts had me trying to twist away from Josh’s hands and down onto my knees. (Now that I think about it, this is how I’m tricked into blow jobs nine times out ten.) Josh didn’t seem to approve of my laughter. In fact, he didn’t seem to approve of me at all, with the exception of my knuckles, over which he spent a good minute masturbating my ego. (This happened right after I accidentally cracked them when I pushed my fist against his clavicle, which made me squeal orgasmically about how much I love cracking my knuckles. It was a pretty awkward moment for all involved.)
(But I really love cracking my knuckles. REALLY.)
In addition to his disapproval over my filterless knuckle-cracking g-spot sound effects, Josh also expressed disdain over the fact that I was wearing a sweatshirt featuring Yale’s mascot, when I did not in fact go to Yale.
That’s OK, because I hated his insinuations that I’m a Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus fan (I slammed him down good after he started singing “Party in the USA” to me) and the way he made me want to staple-gun myself shut every time he said the word “rape.”
“Maybe there’s a zombie sex-ed class in the future,” Kristy said after the class.
We also learned a move involving a hardback book (I knew that Bible would finally have a purpose). While Josh was demonstrating, he was talking—as usual—about RAPE. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing as I leaned against the wall, mostly because I kept thinking about how badly I wanted to try these out on Henry, crack his head back with some hard-covered liberal literature. But also because the whole class was so ridiculous.
After the two hours were up, the most valuable piece of information I gleaned was: Run faster than the people you’re with. So in the case of a zombie apocalypse, do not come to me for help. I will sacrifice you faster than MTV renewed “Jersey Shore.” I also learned that Pittsburgh is only 35 miles away from the nearest nuclear power plant, so my paranoia and I have spent all week drawing up plans for a fall-out shelter full of Zebra Cakes, wine and posters of Jonny Craig.
By the time I left Zomburgh, I was 50% convinced rape was my destiny, 49.95% anxious about radiation and .05% empowered.
As I walked home in the dark past all the bars on Brookline Boulevard, I didn’t know whether I wanted to pop inside one and instigate the drunk rapists, or just run blindly while screaming, “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!” I also almost got hit by a car. Maybe Zomburgh will offer a street-crossing class so I can learn how to not dart across zig-zaggedly with my hands on the side of my head like I’m in ‘Nam.
Of course I wanted to try everything out on Henry as soon as I walked through the door, but he wasn’t grappling right.
“No! You have to put your hands on my shoulders!” I corrected him after he immediately went for my neck. “Josh always put his hands on my shoulders. This is what all zombie-rapists will do, always.” So Henry would place his hands on my shoulders (any good assailant should change hand-positioning if you ask them), which would only serve to bring me to my knees in a fit of tickle-giggles.
And of course I forgot how to do everything.
Except for the hardback book maneuver! Too bad Henry wrenched the book from me before I could get in proper positioning.
“You’re dead,” he said all sing-songedly.
Even still, that class was definitely the most interesting way I’ve ever chosen to meet an online friend for the first time. Totally worth it.
But I’ll just continue kicking ’em in the nards.