There have been numerous times, at a party or in some casual social situation in the past, when someone has brought up the question “What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?” I suppose it’s a fun thought experiment for them, but my answer is always brutally honest and very simple: I would give up immediately. Come on!
I’m just being practical here. I know my limitations, which are numerous. I get winded carrying my groceries up the stairs — how am I gonna outrun a zombie? Even if they’re the slow kind, I can’t use a single weapon and I wouldn’t want to anyway, because gore makes me squeamish. No ragtag bunch of scrappy survivors would take me, because I’d contribute nothing, and plus I’m anemic so I’m certainly a liability.
I know who wins in a game of Allison vs. the supernatural undead! My attitude toward any such disaster, in the wise words of Vanessa Hudgens, is that “I get it… like, I respect it.” I’m not suffering from a lack of self-confidence here: I know that I’m very good at a lot of things, but my skill set is suited for a highly functioning society. I can throw a very intricate themed dinner party. My thank-you card collection is vast and varied, so I always have the best option for any situation. I can pronounce any word on an Italian menu. I am resourceful, but only under very specific circumstances — this past New Year’s Eve, for example, we were faced with a pretty limited selection of decor items left at the store before our party, and so the tablescape that I created was improvised on the fly. I’m proud of that, sure, but I’m well aware that it would not serve me in the face of a zombie attack.
A few months ago I was talking to a good friend who was ranting about people who complain about things that aren’t even problems, minor inconveniences that they treat like enormous burdens with no sense of perspective for what’s actually difficult in the world. I understood what she was saying, of course, and she was right, but I also offered a counterpoint for consideration, which is that some of us are delicate flowers that wilt easily. I once went to a restaurant with my then-boyfriend and my good friend Morgan. He and my boyfriend ordered first, and they left to find a table while I placed my order at the counter. My boyfriend found an open table that would fit us, one of those high-top ones with barstools, and Morgan responded, “I think it’s fine, but knowing how neurotic your girlfriend is, she’ll find some problem with it.” It was at that point that I walked over, having heard none of that conversation, and said “Guys, can we not sit at one of those high tables? I don’t like it when my feet dangle.”
It is humbling, then, to be faced with an actual apocalypse that is, all things considered, the most comfortable possible apocalypse for me specifically. I’m lucky enough to be healthy, so all that is required of me is that I stay indoors — the place that I normally prefer to be!! — with a fully stocked kitchen, internet access, and accounts on multiple streaming services. And still I’m wilting.
I miss parties. I miss going to the gym, I tell myself, even though I never went very often and often considered cancelling my membership for that reason. I miss the option of going to the gym if I felt like it. Alone in my apartment, I’m slowing going full Havisham even though I have an outlet to write where my skills are still useful! In any other kind of apocalypse, a well-placed Great Expectations reference would have no value at all.
What am I supposed to do here? Adapt to the mildest discomfort? That’s my LEAST FAVORITE THING TO HAVE TO DO. Sirens blare outside my window every ten minutes as another ambulance rushes another patient to the hospital. Last night I dreamt that I went to a Dunkin’ Donuts. I miss their donuts so. I am worse than useless.
Probably the worst thing I have done in all of this is contemplate whether I could secure a higher level of comfort to protect me in the case of any future disasters. I watch hours of those Architectural Digest home tours and think about how tastefully I could decorate a mansion if given the chance. Sure, I still couldn’t order delivery when I have my period and I would hate that, but perhaps my custom-designed kitchen would ease that pain. When this is all over, will I find the opportunity to put a vaulted ceiling in a bathroom like David Harbour’s?
Anyway, I do hate myself for being such a tiny baby bitch and I am of course following all safety guidelines (“I get it…like, I respect it”) and I am fully aware that any complaint I have right now has absolutely no merit. I have been in quarantine for just over two weeks, and it seems that we will have many more weeks of this to come. My only comfort — besides my many, many comforts like Netflix and baking and FaceTiming and running water and electricity and the internet and my perfectly nice non-mansion apartment and a grocery store nearby and very few actual pressures on my living situation — is the knowledge that I have always been right. I can’t handle an apocalypse. I knew it. “I know myself,” as the concluding line in This Side of Paradise goes, “but that is all.”