My husband and I are very close to my sister and brother-in-law; we get together on a weekly basis. But my husband and my sister have rarely spent any time together, so last weekend, they decided that on Saturday they would grab a beer, maybe play some pool or ping-pong, and my brother-in-law and I would be left to find something to do.

“We could watch a movie,” said Alex. “You know what movie I’ve wanted to watch that Julia would never want to?”

World War Z?” I asked.

“Yes! World War Z! How ‘bout it?”

Let’s back up a second. Even people who know me only moderately well know this one thing: I’m the biggest scaredy cat around. My students know this and constantly make fun of me by asking if I want to hear the plot of The Human Centipede.

I’ve gotten slightly braver over the years, but my childhood is riddled with terrifying nights where I was so sure there was some demented clown hovering over my bed. My mantra growing up was “Anything bad that can happen will, without a doubt, happen to me.” Seriously, guys, I can’t handle scary things.

So it wasn’t the most natural thing that I agreed to watch this movie. But I rationalized to myself that zombies were, in fact, stupid, and our culture’s obsession with them is nothing short of perplexing. The undead are not frightening; they amble around, moaning for brainsssss, while anyone with half a leg can just jump out of the way. I just wanted to see the movie because the thought of hundreds of zombies pile up to attack a helicopter sounded epic.

So I went to their house on Saturday. Alex and I made popcorn, got situated, and put in the DVD.

Within the first ten minutes of the movie, I turned to Alex and said, “We’ve made a horrible mistake.”

We spent the rest of the movie huddled in a corner of the couch, jumping at every loud noise or sudden movement.

I’m not saying that this movie was particularly scary. I mean, it’s no Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver. I mean that this is how incredibly chicken I am.

I do stand by my original statement: Zombies are stupid. But anyone that jumps on a car and bashes their head into your windshield in order to kill you and your family would freak you out. And opening a closet door only to have an undead human jump out at you would get your adrenaline pumping. But zombies are still stupid.

I know this. I can say it rationally and believe myself. But when my husband goes to CMU for half the week and I’m left alone in my apartment and I want to take a shower but I’m afraid a person will jump out at me and I can’t wash my face because when I open my eyes there will be a face behind me and I keep checking the peephole on the apartment door to make sure there is no one there but I don’t want to look too long because a scary face might jump at the peephole and scare me and I don’t want to take out the trash because someone will jump down from the roof and attack me… Well, then I start to lose it.


  1. Abby Zwart

    Ohmygosh. I’m so glad you have the fear of washing your face. I’ve never found someone who shared that. A face WILL appear in the mirror when I rinse and open my eyes. IT WILL.

    • Sarah VanderMolen

      Seriously. I have gotten so much soap in my eyes over the years by opening them mid-wash just to make sure…


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