“Undead Poet Laureate of Kansas,” I had Ken magic-marker onto a white shirt, and then, with a purse full of bookmarks to commemorate the occasion, I waved goodbye to my live husband and went with my eldest son to march with the undead. The Lawrence Zombie Parade brought together well over 500 of the living dead, including the undead Santa, undead Harry Potter, undead Batman accompanied by undead cowgirl, and many undead brides sporting rubber intestines spilling out of their satin and lace gowns.
When it was time to march, most people shambled, which is a way of walking in which you drag one of your feet in zombie-like fashion. Many roared and groaned. A woman holding the leash of an invisible zombie dog worked hard to keep her invisible pooch from attacking live dogs. Zombie parents pushed zombie babies. A toddler with perfect red horns growing out of his tow head giggled loud while someone said, “What an adorable little devil baby!” Drunken college kids zombied it down Mass. Street while old-time zombies leered and stumbled. Outside the Toy Store, a team of employees, equipped with nerf guns, kept the zombies at bay while a dignified zombie couple carried their live (and quite beautiful chickens) past the tattoo parlor.
My favorite was the entire undead cast of Gilligan’s Island. As they walked past, I automatically started humming the tune. I missed zombie Jesus, who I heard was around, but maybe as an undead Jew, I’m not apt to meet up with him……at least not yet.
Meanwhile, we walked from South Park down about six blocks, wheeling our zombie identities between the spectators, bunches of whom were dining outside on this gorgeous night at various restaurants. A zombie dad dragged his zombie daughter while everyone
laughed. A hip couple walked by with a zombie ferret (make up was particularly impressive). Zombie 1950s dads walked by reading zombie newspapers. And whoever read my shirt or bookmark, connecting what “undead” had to do with the state of the arts in Kansas, immediately laughed and occasionally applauded. On this night, it was okay to be in a program that’s undead, particularly because I believe it cross over from this limbo hemisphere of haze into pure life life. And besides, on nights like this one, I’ve got a lot of vivid company.