Friday, March 13, 2009

The Care And Feeding of Your Undead Friend

I'm not really going to be writing about feeding zombies--we don't eat. Although some people speculate that we "feed" off of ultraviolet radiation, and others think that we actually absorb moisture and toxins from the air, sort of like undead air filters. I've got a friend who is testing the UV theory, using one of those lights that people use to grow plants.

But in terms of "caring"--I've had some discussions with folks at the Haunted House about a number of topics regarding zombie/trad relations, the difficulties and barriers that exist. One of the first--and biggest of these barriers is the difficulty most zombies have with expression. Our post death-bodies, for whatever reason, don't lend themselves well to expression, so if you have an undead friend, you are unlikely to be greeted with the smiles, lightening and softening of the eyes, and rosy-cheeked expressions you get from your trad friends, unless that undead person is trying really, really hard to be expressive. And we are well aware that the results of our attempts at expression are sometimes, well, grisly. Picture an eyebrow frozen in a permanent arch, a smile that reaches only one side of the face and shows too many teeth, an eye made permanently lazy. Most children learn expressiveness from their parents beaming down at them in their cribs; all of that needs to be re-learned, and the unwilling muscles retrained after death.

Undead people are frequently frustrated by the attempt to show expression. Karen, who is particularly good and "natural" at it, actually works pretty hard at making her facial expressions seem effortless, but for other kids it can take months.

Positive feedback, works. Saying something like, "Hey, Kev! You've been working on your smile, haven't you? Looks great!" can go a long way towards making a dead kid feel good about the effort they are making, whereas framing your comments in a negative manner, like "Yo, Sylvia, only half of your lip is working" is a guaranteed buzzkill. Never, never, never suggest to an undead person that they "turn that frown upside down". We can't be held responsible for the consequences.

And for zombies, I'd suggest that you stay patient with your trad friends who might be having a difficult time understanding you. A great deal of communication between people is exchanged non verbally; living people send out hundreds of different signals and cues from posture, expression, gesture, etc., so it can be very difficult trying to "decode" a person who doesn't exhibit any of those behaviors. Think of how easy it is to send mixed signals to people, even ones you know really well. Think of all the times you accidentally hurt someone's feelings when you were trying to do the opposite.

The key, for both living and dead, is patience. Ask questions, communicate often, don't be afraid. I think everyone will find it is well worth the effort.

32 comments:

soccrfrek1 said...

SWEET IMA BE DA 1st TO COMMENT

Tara said...

wow, that'll really help trads trying to help their zombie friends to adjust and to know what and how to encourage them.
<3 Tara

VampireTaco said...

WOOT!! FEED DE UNDEAD!!!! ^w^

VampireTaco said...

WOOT!! FEED DE UNDEAD!!!! ^w^

venza said...

dude communication isn't only for the dead...even us blood bags need to talk more often!!

Rhebekka said...

Wow...Really nice Writing "tommy"
I got the book a month ago...i read half of it on a thursday and the other half on friday...i was wondering is this book a series? If so what are the other books? Lots of luffin' from Tennessee!

Danielle Marie said...

I love your last paragraph. Don't be scared, all it takes is communication and patience. I'll remember that next time I come across a dead person. :]

Melissa said...

Tommy that was great!!! I wish I can meet one of your kind. In fact I am going to write it on my blog.
www.mycoolspot-snowqueen.blogspot.com

Kelsey said...

Hi Tommy! I'm new to your blog, and I love reading it! Very interesting and informational! :)

gothic_chick said...

i cant wait for kiss of life to come out!!! its going to be such a great book

Meg/Minx said...

yikes, that's why we text an IM, so we can use cool smileys. LOL XD

~MEg

Paige said...

I always try to work with the undead kids at my school on fail expressions. They say it is helping them a lot, and I already got one boy to smile as they used to.
I hope trad kids every where are tolerant while their peers have to re learn those types of things.

Gothic Temptation said...

If I'm ever lucky enough to make an undead friend, I'll remember that.

Raschel said...

Very true, very true indeed Tommy, having people compliment me on my clothing helped me actually. After death I decided to wear different clothes instead of the normal mundane ones I was used to. From there people started to treat me normally...odd isn't it? I dress completely like a fool (in the eyes of my parents and teachers) and all the kids decide I'm alright? Oh well. That is how trads are I guess, odd, and they think we're the wierd ones! Ha.

~Raschel

Sonakaru said...

It seems like it must be very hard to not be able to express yourself as well as you'd like...
I try to help the few DB kids in my area, even if not a lot of other kids will.
I'll make sure I don't insult my DB friends, thanks for the tips!
P.S. I'm pretty the phrase 'Turn that frown upside down!' Irritates everyone, but probably those who can't more. [Seriously, though, no one should say that. Ever.]

animeface said...

A smile is the same in every language.

jasper said...

this blog has some interesting points.

Ieva said...

how interesting...

Tommy Williams said...

Kelsey,

Thank you.

T.

Tommy Williams said...

Sonakaru,

I agree completely.

T.

Olga said...

i just <3 teh way u write, and evrything uw rite can liek relate to my life, even though persnally i know not a zombie,though i wish i did. but even w/o teh zombie friend the communication thing is very helpfull i know its harder for som ppl to communicate than it is for otehrs. some of us cn be really loud and talk and ppl cant shut us up but we can neer find wods to say wa we're feeling, u know? like me i never shut up but i cant tll ppl im sad or why i am its ipossible to put it into words 0.o *hug* thank u

The-Vampire-Chick said...

Personnally, i don't know any differently biotic kids but if i did have a zombie frind then i would deffinately take the time, i mean isn't it worth taking time to be nice and patient with differently biotic kids who can't always express themselves the way they want to? (: Hehe when is the next awesome book comming out?? ^.^ Ttyl! tell everyone at the house i said hi!

The-Vampire-Chick said...

Personnally, i don't know any differently biotic kids but if i did have a zombie frind then i would deffinately take the time, i mean isn't it worth taking time to be nice and patient with differently biotic kids who can't always express themselves the way they want to? (: Hehe when is the next awesome book comming out?? ^.^ Ttyl! tell everyone at the house i said hi!

Khezzi anne said...

Tommy you are a great writer. I feel so sorry for melissa and differently biotic people cannot move very fast either so I'm suprised she made it out of the flames at all. your writing is really powerful, I especially like the last paragraph. If I ever come across a zombie I will keep all what you said in mind and be patient (:

Anonymous said...

awesome!this will really help,my 6 year old cousin has a differently biotic friend.

melina said...

me i never really smile i don't like smiling. actually to tell u the truth smiling scares me especially with the preppy cheerleaders! always smiling it reminds me off a horror movie with dead cheerleaders that come back as . . . .oh my god im so sry not thinking here i didn't mean to say that plz don't be mad

Jess said...

Neat blog, T! Very helpful with my differently biotic friends.
Thanks!
-Jess

Sara said...

Great job Tommy. I love your blog! I wish I could meet a zombie, I'm sure I would become great friends with them.

Tell Tak I said hi if you get the chance!!

April said...

Wow! You give really great advice. Then again, you know what it's like...

Anonymous said...

Good advice, Tommy. If i knew any zombies i would so ise your tips. I think that i'll use them with my demon best friend any ways though. He always seems to be in a bad mood while i alwaus seem to be annoying. Weird, huh? And im the trad.


~KayKat

Anonymous said...

Nice advice Tommy. I don't know any zombies but I'm gonna use the tips with my demon friend, he normaly can't show emotions at all. He always comes off as mad. Well, thanks for the tips.


-KayKat

Anonymous said...

Nice addvice, Tommy. I may have to use those tips sometime.....

-KayKat