Do you ever wonder how you’d fare if a serial killer, back from the dead showed up in your living room one evening? What if your camping trip became less “peaceful night under the stars” and more “race for your life through the woods?” Would you be more likely to run or hide?
Do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?
Well I can tell you right now, that in any of those scenarios, I would be of no use to you. Because, me? I would already be dead.
I can predict monsters hiding behind closet doors with the best of them when the story is unfolding on my television; but without the benefit of an eerie musical score to hint at bad things to come, I am a lost cause.
I was thinking about this the other day, and came up with six specific reasons why I would be the first clueless character in a horror movie to meet their grisly end. Surely there are more, but being able to come up with six without even pausing presents a strong case for my lack of survival skills.
Reason number one: I’m slow. I mean really slow. Like old people pass me on the track slow. And it has nothing to do with sports injuries or bad knees – I’ve just always been a slow runner. This realization hit when I was in elementary school and an impromptu race from one side of the playground to the other took place (as they so often do). I was in front of the crowd when the group think command got our legs going, but by the end of the sprint I was dead last.
Even as a six-year-old, I knew that if you run as fast as you can and still come in last, then something must be wrong. Either way, it was clear that I wasn’t joining the track team. Nor was I ever going to outrun an ax murderer chasing me down a deserted road. There is a reason why I prefer busy city streets.
This speed deficiency may or may not be related to reason number two: slow reaction time. This serves me well in shocking, but not life threatening emergency situations (“Oh dear, is that YOUR severed finger on the ground? Why don’t you sit down while I call 911 and grab a zip lock bag of ice“) – But it wouldn’t be particularly useful if all of my daughter’s dolls turned their demonically possessed heads my way and said “mama” in unison.
Oh sure…I’m right there with you as you scream, “run! get out of the house! don’t just stand there like a gibbering idiot!” But the sad truth is that I don’t walk (or run) the talk. I know this because back in my twenties, my best friend Nancy and I actually shared a “run for your life” moment one night. We were sitting on our living room couch watching TV when a loud “BOOM” made the house shake. After a tense pause, I said, “well I guess we should go check that out.” She countered, “do we have to?” I decided that yes, we did. So armed with a steak knife, I took the lead as we headed upstairs to find the source of the noise.
The first two bedrooms showed no signs of disruption, and neither did the third. But that last one had a door to a patio above the side porch; and the moment that we looked in that direction, the screen door started banging violently in the frame – as if someone was trying to force their way in.
You know those movie scenes where someone holding a gun sees something so terrifying that the weapon rattles noisily in their shaking hands? That was me with my steak knife. I was rooted to the spot. People watching my movie would be screaming “run! get out of the house! don’t just stand there like a gibbering idiot!” Yes – it’s true. There was gibbering. After several frozen seconds, I managed to look to my left and see that Nancy was gone. When I finally made it back to the top of the staircase, I saw her quickly disappearing out the front door. I don’t know if she’d be the last man standing in the horror movie, but it’s obvious that she wouldn’t be the first to go down.
In case you were wondering, there was not in fact, an intruder trying to break into that bedroom. Nothing was there, so we had to assume it was the wind. Then days afterward, we heard the boom again. This time we felt like it came from below, and it turned out to be the furnace. Something about gas building up until it exploded. So it really was a serious danger in our home that if left un-repaired could result in larger explosions – possibly start fires – maybe even kill us! I was so relieved that it wasn’t a Poltergeist.
It was that night of the first boom when I became aware of reason number three: I always go “check it out.”
Reason number four is just straight up dumbassery. I won’t tell you what it is immediately. Instead I’ll give you a perfect example of this stupid, stupid thing I do all the time. First, you should know that I have always felt most safe when surrounded by people. I’m also afraid of the dark. So when Chris goes out of town for work, I become hyper-vigilant about our security.
Every once in a while we forget to close the downstairs windows on a cool summer night. And more than once, I’ve discovered that no one locked the sliding door to the back deck before bedtime. But when Chris isn’t in the house, I make the rounds. It can be as early as 5:00 p.m., but if I know we’re not going outside again, our house goes into lock down mode.
One of those nights on my own, I checked the back gate, made sure the locks on the doors to the deck and all windows were clicked into place. I triple locked the front door AND set the security alarm (something we never do when Chris is around). Yet after all of that I still went outside the next morning and found my keys in the front lock.
I wouldn’t survive five minutes on The Walking Dead.
Like I said – this was not an isolated incident. I leave my keys in the front door regularly. And it’s not completely unrelated to reason number five: I can never find my keys.
It’s annoying enough when it happens at home, as I’m inevitably late for some important appointment. But my inability to locate my keys in public parking lots makes me a walking “DON’T” example for self-defense classes nationwide.
We’ve all seen that movie scene where the college girl runs for her 1978 Beetle as a rotting pursuer lunges just feet behind. Keys jangling in her hand, she fumbles to locate the one she needs. Then OH NO she drops them on the ground, losing precious seconds. But THANK GOD she does finally make it in with enough time to lock the doors…and then watch in horror as a hunting knife rips through the convertible top while she discovers that the car won’t start.
The difference between that co-ed and me? She didn’t have to search for her keys.
I have had to literally dump my purse out on the hood of my car…sort through old lip gloss tubes and loose change…search the same compartments over and over… Meanwhile, my soon to be abductor has had time to send a few texts, look up the weather and work on a sketch for the girl suit he plans to make with my skin.
An image that leads me to the final reason – number six – that I would never survive the horror movie: I’m a pleaser. He promised that if I was quiet and did everything he said, he would let me go. Sure I’ll put the lotion in the basket when I’m done – just don’t hurt me, okay?
On the upside, I do like to just get unpleasant things over with… So I have that going for me.
And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in a real life or death situation, endorphins would kick in and I’d run faster – have quicker reflexes. Maybe luck would be on my side and I would find the key I needed the first time I reached into my purse. Maybe this unusual speed and luck would help me escape when the opportunity presented itself. Maybe…
But I doubt it. And if I’m right – if I really don’t have what it takes to make it out alive – there is one thing I can predict with absolute certainty. Later, when my body arrives at the morgue and they search my personal effects to figure out my identity, the coroner will undoubtedly find those missing car keys in my jacket pocket.