I’m all into bourbon and back episodes of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead this fine evening. I’m an avid TV watcher. I say that with pride, not shame, because theme, plot, characterization, hubris—what-have-you—can pack the same punch via the television medium as, say, The Great Gatsby might have affected reading audiences before television or radio existed. Why hold on to old entertainment and wisdom at the expense of the new? We’re not readers anymore—not entirely, anyway. We’re watchers, and listeners, and readers.
Anyway, this new half-season of FTWD is all about grudges—two warring communities are in a position to put aside pre-zombie-apocalypse grudges in order to survive the new enemies. Some can do it, some cannot. We’re talking people sitting down at the table with others who’ve murdered their lovers, family, or friends. How do they do it? Well, some of them can’t. That’s what I like about Fear the Walking Dead. Some have what it takes to put the past behind them, to move forward into a state of truce, of relief. To some, peace is a relief. To others, it doesn’t supply the closure that their angry hearts have demanded. Now you’ve got a conflict worth watching!
I wonder while I watch this show if I have what it takes to put such rancor behind me. I hope I never need to test it. I still nurture a grudge from 1998, the year my grandmother died. I took a week off from my waitressing job in the Midwest to fly home for her funeral. When I returned to work, the other waitresses shunned me. One of them had poisoned the others with her suspicions that I was using my grandmother’s sudden death to take a week off. I came back to work full of grief, and they gave me more, and I’ll never forget the slight. In fact, I still Google the witch from time-to-time, hoping to glean some sort of contact information. I’m not above reaching out to her after all these years just to tell her how much she sucks.
It’s a First-World kind anger we feel over situations like this. I think many of us have been there. We haven’t had to face real grudges or make real truces with real enemies in order to survive. We’ve been lucky.
There’s been a First-World grudge festering in my family for three decades. It’s aborted relationships with cousins. It’s complicated family events like weddings, and funerals. Someone has always gotten pissed off about someone else’s refusal to acknowledge said slight. My cousins and I grew up with this shit. My grandmother suffered for it. We all suffered for it… except, I believe, its creator. To her, this enmity is still fresh and real. For her, we must suffer.
Even in the light of a recent tragedy, good old Aunt What’s-Her-Name still clings to her vow of silence. She’s quite tenacious. She sits high in her fortress of malice and judges. First-World luxuries. I wonder sometimes what she would do in a zombie apocalypse or some other grid doom. I’m pretty sure she’d find few friends, even among family, willing to put their necks out for her. There are so many other family members who do so much more, who shine love and light. Unfortunately for her, simmering anger is always palpable. It makes others uneasy.
I told my husband once about my little hobby of Googling that nasty waitress from time-to-time. He thought I was completely nuts. He’s a man with no ill will. It’s what I love about him. In his honor, and in the honor of my sick mother, my patient father, my departed uncle, I think I should put that incident behind me. The blackness in that woman’s heart, if she’s still out there somewhere, is probably enough of a burden.