Before my final installment on how to defend against zombies, let’s add some context. When you’re fighting off hordes of the undead, one thing will keep you going: hope. It will be easy to despair, to — despite all those “Glee” Journey covers you’ve heard — stop believing.
To counteract that despair, you need the tangible hope of a final destination, a safe haven, a place to stop fighting and start rebuilding.
My family only had cable TV for a couple of years when I was a tween. After having been fed a narrow diet of fuddy-duddy public television my whole life, I rebelled against the modern stuffiness of “Wishbone” and “NOVA” and got into the kitsch wonder that is TVLand, channel of perpetual reruns and nostalgia. This is entertainment, I thought, laughing at Lucy and whistling with Opie.
But even at 12, I recognized the horrid stupidity of a few of the offerings; and the most inane, perhaps, was “Gilligan’s Island.”
The desert island has a mythic standing in our culture. In its various incarnations, it represents our mortality, our fascination with the unexplored, our age-old battle against the savage wild. It plays a foil to our contrived civilization. It is a test of fortitude and resourcefulness, the place man grapples with his frailty and inadequacy.
Gilligan and his gaggle of hapless companions managed to make it something much less: a mere backdrop for shenanigans too ridiculous even for “Pettycoat Junction” or the Brady household.
Like Gilligan — though hopefully unlike Gilligan — we, too, can remake the desert island. Where once humanity saw it as the villain in so many stories, now, when zombies are roving the mainland, it can become our hope for survival.
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Because everyone knows the undead can’t swim. Most of their brain functions have shut down, so they can’t manage the complex motions involved with swimming, much less navigating the high seas to hunt down remnants of the living. (Of course, if they don’t need to breathe because they’re inhuman, I suppose a few might bumble into the ocean and eventually wash up on the shore of the island, still kicking, but that’s fine. An occasional waterlogged zombie, we can handle.)
My college friends Moriah and Rian went through a zombiepocalypse phase, during which they mapped out an elaborate plan to move to an island when doomsday strikes. They selected which friends to take based on what skills they would offer our new society, and they decided who should procreate so as to preserve as much genetic diversity for as long as possible. You might call their plan “Gilligan’s Island: Arranged Marriages Edition.”
They may sound crazy, and they probably did go a little far with the matchmaking. But if you plan to escape to an island, you really should start planning now. I mean, you’ll need a boat, your crew of able-bodied survivalists, supplies and a destination. And someone to navigate. So either start practicing your boat skills now or befriend some ships’ captains.
I keep saying your destination should be a desert island, because no people equals no zombies; but if you’d prefer an island with proven life-sustaining properties and existing infrastructure, you could choose a little island with a small population and either hope it’s uninfected or rid it of the undead once you get there.
If you go with the latter option, you could take over one of those nice, resort-like islands off California. Or, if you’re more ambitious, you could head for the thousands and thousands of islands in the South Pacific, both peopled and not. Or, if you’re looking for an uninhabited island closer to home, head to the San Juans.
Wherever you go, make sure to pack lots of baby gear, because you’re going to have to start repopulating the planet/creating an army to overcome the remaining zombies when you return to the mainland a generation or two down the post-apocalyptic road. It’s your ethical obligation to our soon-to-be endangered species. So stock up now on medicines, onesies, cloth diapers, binkies and maybe a few epidurals.
And when you get on your boat, make sure you’ve chosen your companions wisely. No one actually wants to spend the rest of their lives rebuilding civilization and generating lots of babies with someone like Gilligan. Although he seems pretty brainless, so maybe he’d be immune to the zombies anyway.
Next week: Getting to your boat.