By Tracie McBride
An ex-boyfriend once said to me, with much disdain, “you’d be useless in the apocalypse.” He was a huntin’, fishin’, campin’ out under the stars kind of guy, and my lack of interest and ability in any of those things marked me as, not only useless, but probably a liability (I did outfish him once, but he did all the messy stuff, like baiting the hook and gutting the fish; I just had to reel it in and cook it. At best it was a collaborative effort. At worst, it was sheer dumb luck on my part that I caught dinner and he caught nothing).
Eighteen-odd years on, and I have not forgotten those words. They surface with regularity in our household, where How To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse is a popular dinnertime conversation topic (the ex was talking more along the lines of a nuclear winter, but I believe the skills required to survive an apocalypse are transferable across most apocalyptic scenarios).
I don’t know how to hunt. I have only the most rudimentary foraging skills. I need help to fish. I can’t build things. I can identify a trigger on a gun, and I know which end not to look down, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of firearms. I have no medical skills to speak of. I’m not strong enough to wield a bludgeoning instrument with effectiveness, have no archery experience, and armed with a chainsaw, I’d be more of a danger to myself than anything else. And I’m getting too old to contribute to repopulating the planet.
So what can I do? I’m a reasonably competent home cook, but I’m guessing that skill will be redundant in the zombie apocalypse; the only thing you’ll need to know about food in that situation is how to avoid food poisoning. I’m good at writing lists and counting money and filing things in alphabetical order and being nice to small children and animals. Suffice to say, one thing at which I would be superlative in the zombie apocalypse is tripping over my own feet and providing fodder to the zombies, thus allowing all the useful people to escape.
“I’d be useless in the zombie apocalypse,” I say to my husband.
“That’s not true,” he says. “They’ll always need storytellers.”
Pffft. He can afford to be patronizing; his nine years of service in the New Zealand Army make him better equipped than most for survival.
Oh yes. That was the other thing I’m good at; choosing a spouse. Stick with him, and I’ll be able to swan about in the apocalypse, writing lists and patting puppies and telling stories around the campfire. Much the same as I do now, really.
“Honey…have I told you lately how much I love you…?”