Being Okay with Mushroom Zombies: A Growing Experience

So far I have to say that I have enjoyed my old age. Oh, there’s a few things, like sneezing my back out of whack or giving myself pep talks to get off the couch. Otherwise, it hasn’t been bad.

Based on most of the people I know who have hit their ripe old late 40s, I expected to become a very hardheaded, set in my ways curmudgeon who refuses to change his mind on anything. Not only was I OK with this, in some ways it has totally happened.

I need roughly three weeks’ notice for plans. Anything less short noticed than that and I feel like the person is pressuring me. Someone who suggests going on that day I think is deliberately antagonizing me.

In other ways, however, I find that I am mellowing in my old age. I add onions to things now. A thing which would have baffled the younger me. I also need to go to sleep in a clean flat and I talk about this desire in great length and in earnest with those around me. The very fact that I am a dedicated early bird would give Young Me a coronary. It’s remarkable. Ish.  

One of the things that has kept me fresh of mind and spirit is writing for a children’s magazine. I have been writing science and nature articles for kids for a couple of years and they are always rather eye-opening. Remarkable is that the magazines seem to know what will freak me out and then they ask me to write about it. I have been asked to write and have written about spiders and insect-cuisines and venomous snakes and BASE jumping and space travel and mushrooms. All things that freak me out beyond belief, and under normal circumstance things whose existence I would never in any way acknowledge.

And yet, it seems that reading about and writing about these things has forced me to rethink my stance on all of these things (that stance being, in essentialia, is that they are bad). But it turns out spiders and pretty cool. They are just hairy, leggy thingies that move really fast, so in that stretch they are basically my Aunt Delores. And when the time comes, I will definitely be dining on cricket burgers. I while I have learned more about the fascinating snake, what I have learned has reinforced my lifelong goal of avoiding the countries they live in.

Last month I wrote an article on fungus. Fascinating. Never did I realize the communities they build beneath our very feet, their importance in our ecosystem, or the fact that they are more closely related to us than they are plants. While I have under only the direst of circumstances tasted mushrooms, I have at least sought to see them not as slimy widgets that taste like the ground and possibly snails. This was a plan I could hold onto for a long time.

That plan was going swimmingly, that is, until I started watching The Last of Us. If you haven’t seen this, I’m not spoiling anything and everything I mention you learn in the first few minutes of the first episode. The pandemic comes and it’s creates fungus-based zombies. The zombies are part human, part mushroom. They become mushrooms that bite, attack, and eat people. This was the deal breaker for me. I am now a little older and a little wiser. Growth is good. But it is OK not to love mushroom zombies.  

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