This past Halloween was my second season performing as a professional zombie at a major theme park.
It is something I originally did in order to write a story…but I enjoyed it enough to continue on for another season.
I would get professionally made up and costumed and spend hours in the dark fog scaring guests. My character was “Zombie Mom” and I lovingly carried my tiny (yet incredibly creepy) zombie baby, Norman.
While a zombie you spend a lot of time interacting with kids, teens and families. Suffice it to say, some teens in particular come to the park just to cause trouble with the “talent”. You would get disrespected, soda thrown at you, a lot of swear words coming your way. You’d often get ridiculed over not being scary enough; occasionally even physically pushed. Surprisingly, some of my worst experiences were older males, around college-age to 30 or so. My fellow zombies and I put that down to either alcohol consumption or the fact they were trying to act macho in front of their date.
It was actually a very interesting social “test tube” in a way. I always thought that if those same people saw I was a middle-aged mom out there just performing, that they in no way would treat me like that. Would they? Could they? I hoped not.
I was thinking about this behavior recently. I told someone I felt that Donald Trump acted like some of those young adults during my zombie days. Bratty, bullying behavior; they were acting like there was absolutely no possible consequence for their doing whatever they chose to do in the moment.
As Inauguration Day for Donald Trump is now here, it occurred to me that I actually fear what he may do to the everyday lives of those of us who live in the United States. I thought about this fear and where it is rooted. It isn’t because he is Republican. It isn’t because he beat out the Democrat’s candidate for presidency. No…
I fear what Donald Trump may do because of what I learned as a zombie.
1. You see, zombies don’t get much respect.
And frankly, I have never had to worry about that in my own life. And I don’t want that to be the new norm in the US.
I think about the diversity that surrounds me. So many different people have touched my life; different ethnic backgrounds, different genders (and gender identities). I’ve always felt mutual respect was the norm. Sure, you have the outliers that are always going to be there, exploiting weaker people, etc. But in general, there is a sense of respect for our fellow citizens (and might I add, for our world and environment). That is what makes me proud to be an American, and I worry that Mr. Trump doesn’t respect a lot of people.
He “treats and tweets” with hatred, disgust, and disrespect for people who he seemingly views as inferior. His attitude towards women has disturbed me, but his attitude towards “others” seems totally inconsistent with being the leader of the free world.
2. The unknown is always scarier than the known
But as much as what I know about Donald Trump scares me, it is the unknown that really makes me lose sleep at night.
When dressed as a zombie and performing in the dark fog I learned very quickly the best scare tactics. Allowing people to see you creeping around up ahead in the fog can be very effective as their dread increases as they approach. But the best scare is still always the shock of surprise.
If Trump’s words and actions have caused us worry to date, imagine the best scares are still to come.
3. Even zombies understand each other’s motivation
As a zombie, I always knew what my fellow zombies’ priorities were. For zombies, our undead lives were all about the next scare. Period.
But as an American, the priorities of the country are confusing and changing pretty much daily. Even Trump’s advisers seem confused by it all, and we are letting them get away with deferring all explanations of Trump’s daily ranting tweets. “The tweet speaks for itself?” What does that even mean? It means Trump’s team is as confused as we are about what his priorities and motivations may be. Or worse, maybe he doesn’t have any priorities beyond his next tweet.
And imagine if US citizens are confused what International citizens are thinking.
I received an email just yesterday from a previous teacher of one my kids. He lives in Japan and spoke passionately about his strong concerns over Trump. We have never talked about politics and I have known this person for many years. But he took the time, and the risk frankly (since politics are known to end friendships these days!), to send me a lengthy email articulating his concerns.
Bottom line? He didn’t understand Trump’s motivation and priorities. And that meant he didn’t understand the United State’s motivation and priorities. It is scary to me that for all of the people standing around enjoying the “Trump” show (many people I know are waiting for a giant meltdown); the International audience – besides perhaps Russia – isn’t enjoying the show. We are losing credibility, partnerships, allies and respect all around the world.
4. As a mother (aka Zombie Mom) I care about the future.
Even a zombie mom cares about her child. All moms and dads want a better future for their kids.
But the impact of Trump on the world scares me. A bully with the backing of the strength and power of the US. I shudder.
I look at his cabinet choices. The theme that underscores them is that you must despise and want to deconstruct the very purpose that position entails. And note to Trump, Global Warming is real and even a zombie can tell you that it is up to today’s generation to prioritize International leadership on this issue.
We owe it to our children. The world needs our help.
So what should we do?
I believe, in order to honor the democratic system we have embraced for so long, that we need to support Donald Trump as our President, at least until he proves we shouldn’t.
Some may say he has proven that already. For me, the jury is still out. Why? Because so many of my fellow Americans voted for Mr. Trump. I can’t just ignore that or I am being as disrespectful as Trump routinely is. The democratic process must play out. And oh by the way, there is a process to impeach him if that is what citizens and our leadership decides down the road.
But I for one, hope that he will build a strong enough team of “handlers” around him to keep him on task and provide the layer of checks and balances needed. While I do not feel he has drained the swamp (well perhaps he has just introduced a new version of alligator?), again…as a mom, an American and someone who wants America to be respected throughout the world, I am truly hoping this new swamp will rise to the occasion and prove many of us wrong. I am so ok with being proven wrong on this, guys.
Show me. Show America.
But we do need to keep you all accountable.
So everybody, we need to voice our concerns and priorities. We need to engage like never before.
If you didn’t vote, shame on you. If you have issues with decisions that are being made by our new leadership, write your congressman or congresswoman. Write other leadership, even not those representing your particular state.
Support defunded organizations that you previously have supported; perhaps with a bigger check or some of your own time.
And as a fellow zombie once said to a young heckler, “Put your big boy pants on and make better decisions about what you say.” I share that with you, Mr. Trump. And I hope you will listen.