I know the title is a little sensational, largely misleading, and not even close to rational or truthful. However, you take a walk around any high street or shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, and the heading of this week’s rhubarb becomes very real and alarmingly honest.
By the way, I’m not talking about the zombies seen in too many movies, or the ones stumbling around a dozen TV shows. I’m not referring to the types found in every videogame since 2006, not even the one wailed about in that shit-awful song by The Cranberries (although I think that zombie was less about eating brains, and more about the socio-political issues facing Ireland… an easy mistake to make I’m sure you’ll agree).
No, these zombies are far more relentless and come in far greater numbers – certainly more than anything a team of hacky Hollywood script writers could conjure up. Without the need of a toxic spill, a troupe of rage-infected monkeys or the Umbrella Corporation, these unfortunate collaborations of limb, fluid and tissue appear without any noticeable ingress and swarm en masse with a single, unifying purpose.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m referring to those ruinous bastards (usually men) who shamble behind their partners on that unavoidable, vomit-inducing, Saturday afternoon shopping trip.
We’ve all seen them, ambling around shop doorways and eerily peering inside, vacantly observing the frenzied shoppers inside, all in the vain hope of spying their significant other. They can also be found leaning against walls or handrails, glowering into space and dribbling into their ready-nit scarves. Occasionally, you may see one of these sorry mofos trying to mimic the actual behaviour of their “handler”, with lacklustre attempts to engage in the rows and rows of identical jumpers and skirts, all in the hope of appearing semi-normal… and not dead inside.
You don’t believe me? You think I’m exaggerating this stuff and trying to be all humorous and shit? I was in my local town only a few days ago and I took the below photos as proof. I wasn’t in some hide, waiting for these things to appear… I was sat in a sodding Burger King! Check it.
And this is just a tiny fraction of the pandemic now facing every guy who would rather be doing anything else on a Saturday. It’s a silent, despair-inducing, sickness that attacks without provocation or aspiration. Regardless of race, religion, social standing or financial positioning, the look found on these people is waiting for you. All it takes is one nanosecond of weakness, observed and exploited by your devious, self-serving partner. This is how it works…
Right off the bat, you find yourself in the car (and perhaps more remarkable, you’re the one driving it!). Already baffled by the cunning ruthlessness of your usually soft and mushy spouse, a jeremiad of inconsequential nonsense is spoken at you. She drones on about her week, her stupid TV shows, and her awful friends – who are all no doubt cocooning their own partners in a similar web of mall-seeking bollocks.
Wiping the blood from your eyes and ears, the inane babble is only halted by the view of the multi-storied car park. With pay-and-display paid and displayed, you exit the car and slowly begin the transformation into a bag-carrying undead piece of shit. Your will is not your own, your mind is not your own, your coffee is not your own… as she inevitably always wants whatever you have.
I’m not kidding around here; it only takes three visits to the same store to turn any fellah into the first stages of zombification à la SuperDry. Chase this with a ten minute examination on the implications of owning two pairs of pink Converse, and you are all but ready to succumb to an afternoon of mindless wandering.
With three hours in, the gangrenous rot of imposed consumerism has not only settled into your lymph nodes, but has also ravaged the immune system of your relationship with your partner – someone who clearly has no issues with dragging your frustrated carcass around Debenhams. In fact, you begin to question what kind of banshee you have chosen to be your special honey-bunny. What was once a loving soul-mate has now deformed into a cross between Gok Wan, and the spiteful sister of that Jigsaw bloke from the Saw movies… and all because she needed a new pair of skinny jeans and a “few bits” from Accessorize!
As the cashiers and shop floor robots get twitchy for closing time, the last remnants of your humanity are rinsed from your body with the swift efficiency of a Hotpoint spin-dryer. “Full Zombie” is achieved and you are eventually led to the car, bags in hand, car keys in mouth, and soul in the fucking crapper.
However, all sagas have an ending, and this one is no different. From the confines of your home; and only after it has been suitably sterilised and medically certified, the infection can be addressed and neutralised in short order. A slow rehabilitation process is realised and your return to being a semi-human is at hand.
With a belt of Jameson’s whiskey, a snifter of Hendrick’s gin, and a few ounces of “Mike down the Road’s Weed”, the effects of Saturday shopping are despatched. The love lost for your shit-bag partner is soon rediscovered – with promises of never putting you though that pain ever again. You are given assurances that next time she will go shopping with her sister, and in my case, I get to snuggle up to a bacon sandwich and Test Match Special.
Paul Millard 2014
P.S. Should you agree/disagree/don’t give a shit with any of my rhubarb, then put your money where your mouth is and leave a comment… no need to provide your name or email address, just your inner thoughts! Easy.