Sons of the Undead: Lives of the Pre-dead Zombies


“The best break anybody ever gets is in bein’ alive in the first place. An’ you don’t unnerstan’ what a perfect deal it is until you realizes that you ain’t gone be stuck with it forever, either.”

–Porkypine (in Walt Kelly’s Pogo)

“You have to cut way down on your bread, Mr. Piprell,” said my doctor, a charming and entirely competent Thai woman whom I’ve been consulting for years. “You should also avoid rice, potatoes and pasta.” There was a bunch more stuff I should shun—basically all the best things there are in the world to eat.

Recently the victim of a pre-diabetic panic triggered in part by a faulty blood-sugar testing apparatus, I was officially pre-diabetic long enough to learn that I should probably avoid all this good stuff for the rest of my life, for all the good that life would be.

Till 1988, when pre-diabetes was first medically described, the associated range of blood-sugar levels were still considered safely normal. By 2009, 57 million Americans alone had been classified as pre-diabetic. That’s a lot of Americans and, if the doctors have their way, a lot of uneaten carbohydrates, millions upon millions of pigouts never enjoyed, a massive deficit in the collective well-being.

But consider this. The pre-diabetic epidemic could itself be one symptom of a growing ethos of morbid caution—part of a more general syndrome mainly afflicting the affluent, where natural law and individual rights say that nothing bad, especially anything fatal, should ever happen to any of us, ever, and if it does we should be able to sue somebody. (I’ll return to this issue in a later blog.) Yet do what we will, we are, all of us, inevitably pre-dead. This scourge has been around since the dawn of human prehistory.

What sort of behavior is typically associated with the state of pre-death? Eating pasta, bread, rice and potatoes, without question, never mind eating chocolate brownies drenched in honey with a topping of whipped cream and cashews. (I enjoyed this treat at Bangkok’s BBQ Sandwich King just a few days ago, following a Texas Twister with a side of Tater Tots and a German hotdog, just because I could.) Other risky activities include driving fast cars, running with fast women, standing at bus-stops, paragliding in the Himalayas, knitting, eating raw carrots, Russian roulette, getting lots of sleep, drinking lots of beer with tequila chasers, watching I Love Lucy re-runs … All these are part of what we call living and, as such, are part of the process of dying. Everything you do, without exception, brings you closer to the final exit from this vale of sorrows. You start dying the moment you’re born. Life is a terminal condition with no known cure. And there you go: right up till check-out time, anything you do is going to leave you pre-dead—i.e. mortal. So live with it. But live.

Pre-diabetic, my ass.

“Now, now, Mr. Piprell,” says my doctor.

I should hasten to add I have no formal medical training, and can’t tell my pancreas from my spleen, so treat anything I’ve had to say in this regard with all due caution. By the way, it turns out I’m not pre-diabetic, but I’ve moderated my diet anyway, just in case, which suggests I am myself suffering a mild case of pre-dead morbid caution. Have a look here to learn more about actual medical matters: Mayo Clinic/pre-diabetes.

12 thoughts on “Sons of the Undead: Lives of the Pre-dead Zombies

    • This is also a pre-dead activity, and, as such, leads to its certain end as surely as does running with fast women. Walking with slow women tends to result in less breathlessness on your way to the grave, however, and often makes for better conversation.
      Which variety have you been consorting with lately, and in what fashion?

  1. Comments from Facebook:

    John Williams.
    You hit the nail on the head there Dear Mr Piprell.

    But another thing: Holy crap, you quit drinking. If you’re not healthy, there is not much hope for the rest of us non-Presbyterians.
    Yesterday at 5:23pm ·

    Collin Piprell
    Slander! I did not quit drinking. I merely became a social drinker of immoderately moderate habits. I often enjoy some number of glasses of wine and whatnot in the course of a week, but never so much that anyone would notice, including myself come the morning after.
    Further slander–you didn’t read the blog carefully enough. I *am* healthy. I wasn’t pre-diabetic at all; it was a false alarm due to faulty equipment. I finally asked my doctor, “So. Is it okay, then, if I go away now and eat an entire large all-dressed pizza all by myself?”
    Obviously conflicted, she replied, “Yes. It’s okay. But don’t do it every day, okay?”
    “Okay,” I said. “Hee, hee.”

    Collin Piprell
    Is it okay if I add these comments to the blog posting? It’s early days, and I need to generate more interest. Plus clarify the fact I’m really not one foot in the grave, at least for reasons I’m aware of.

    John Williams
    I miswrote. I did understand you are healthy and your wit will remain with us for the time being. That is indeed good news. However, if you are drinking, I have not seen any evidence of it so you must be a closet drinker. If I remember correctly, not only did you not share a Mojito with me on Pelagian, nor appreciate my efforts to bring into Indonesia some of the finest Barbados rum ever brewed, having been forced to pour out some of that liquid sunshine into a huge bin at the airport.

    And, to add insult to injury, you didn’t even share a fine Cuban cigar with me and I was forced to consume these things alone. Therefore, it’s your fault that I will die a young man.

    Molz McGill
    Fight dying by not living or live life while dying?

    Collin Piprell
    This could be a response to both your comment, Molly, and John’s:

    I believe it was W.C. Fields who said something to the effect that teetotalers didn’t live longer than other people, it only *seemed* longer.

    Collin Piprell
    Or maybe it was Dorothy Parker. … In any case, medical research has apparently established the good news that a couple of glasses of red wine every day will
    have you living longer (not to mention happier) than your average teetotaler.

  2. I like the concept of being pre-dead, and would like to write a column on the topic. Can I steal your stuff?

    Please ask your charming physician if being in a persistent vegetative condition is a symptom of pre-death. I may be getting there faster than I thought, as I am now starting to sprout leaves.

    Why do you eat bread? Nobody eats bread. Real Men eat rice.

    • Another thought. They say that we start to die as soon as we’re born. Nobody wants to die. Do you think we’ll be able to genetically engineer fetuses so that, at the moment of birth, they’ll realize they’ve started to die and say, “Stop the show, I want to go back”? If they never get out of the womb, they’ll never be born. If they’re never born, they’ll never die. That will make them immortal. Of course, it would be tough on the mother.

    • Rice, bread… I eat anything that gets in my way.

      Go ahead and write a pre-dead column (but I’d appreciate it if you mentioned the wellspring of this staggering concept, and included a URL to my bloggy thing, just so Hollywood producers know where to find me). Cheers

  3. I agree with the guy who scolded you for quitting drinking. I remember many years ago scouring the back alleys of Bangkok with you and boozing till the wee hours of the morning. In those days you were a jolly fellow, despite a tendency to get just a tad snarky after 16 bottles of Kloster (big ones). Since laying off the sauce, you have become morbid, melancholy, and misanthropic. I recommend a return to the delights of alcohol. That’s the best way to stave off diabetes. Not to mention boredom.

    • Yo, Osho. I realize your medical expertise is right up there with your biological and theological acumen (referring to your earlier comment), but moderation gives me a buzz, and, aside from the fact my regular doctor was kind of quick off the busted diabetes-sensor mark to condemn me to a life without food, I kind of trust her, and will continue to consult her in matters medical. But I do appreciate your concern.

      And I must say it again: I have not quit drinking. Heaven forbid and holy geez, eh?
      Cheers

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