There is a strange tourist phenomenon in evidence on The Outer Banks between Easter and Halloween. I call it the “Undead“. If you are lucky enough to live in a popular tourist destination, perhaps you’ve seen these oddities yourself.
We are a very small community and possess only one grocery store, which happens to be located on the main road visitors use to reach the beach. As evidenced by the license plates, the bulk of our tourists come from West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Ohio, meaning that by the time they arrive here, they have been car captives for 15 hours or more. OUCH! You see them in the grocery store parking lot, gingerly exiting their vehicles, stretching their limbs, rubbing their butts to restore feeling, and shaking off the travel dust. They often lose consciousness when our humid tropical heat bitch slaps them upside da head.
These “Undead” always travel in packs. There’s a Mom and Pop Unit, complete with at least two children. Add Pop’s brother, with his spouse and children in tow. Then let’s tack on at least one set of in-laws, and one recently widowed elderly New Age Auntie. This traveling Unit of the “Undead” now numbers around 11 people. With eyes glazed over from their trip from Cleveland or St. Louis, and horrified at the wait still ahead at the real estate office to pick up keys to their vacation home, they decide to stop and pick up supplies for dinner. This is were the
target practice fun begins for us natives (meaning WE live here full-time; being born here is not a requirement!).
We arrive at the market for a quick stop to pick up three items; we’ll be in and out in five minutes tops, except we forgot it’s the dreaded tourist season! As soon as the sliding doors swing open and you step into produce, you realize your mistake; the “Undead” pods are easy to spot. Eleven or more worn out people all standing around a single grocery cart, most of them holding onto it for dear life. The entire Pod is so white from lack of sun exposure, they give off an eerie incandescent glow, like the light from a celestial orb. Exhausted, travel-weary, and brain-dead, they move as one cluster, in zombie-like fashion, slowly, lurchingly. Oblivious and unaware, they completely block whatever aisle you happen to be on. As you approach, the conversation never varies.
“Potatoes, rice, or pasta with the chicken?”
“No pasta,” wails the Auntie, “Don’t forget my gluten allergy!”
“Ok, Ok,” Mom replies wearily, “Rice or potatoes?”
Mother-in-law, “Well, I’ll tell you what right now. If it’s potatoes, they better be the boxed flakes, because my ass is too sore from that car ride to sit around peeling potatoes all afternoon.”
“No processed food,” screams New Age Auntie, “It’s all full of crap and chemicals.”
Pop, her nephew, snarls, “I guess you’d like us to eat that hippie too booger? two bully? shit you fixed at Easter, or maybe you’d like to poison us with some more of that cuss cuss? I’m paying $5000 for a week at this la-tee-da beach house, and by God, I sure as hell don’t plan to eat rabbit food the whole time. Hey, I got a better idea. You could make some more of that toe fuu. Jesus, I thought you were feeding me a piss cake from the toilet bowl with that white slab of BS.”
Miffed, Auntie flips her scarf over her shoulder and stalks over to the magazine section.
Interested, my eyes follow her as she departs, and I catch a gander of the 15 furious natives all lined up behind me, some cleaning their weapons, others simply reloading, some practicing their aim. Yessiree Billy Bob, just another day in Paradise!!
The following day, when I once again encounter this same pod of “Undead“, they’ve pared the shopping committee down to two. They are both a furious beet red and are now in so much sunburn pain they move as if they’re in body casts. Dear tourists, it is not necessary to cram seven days worth of sun into ten hours. But it’s good for us, because the sunburns acquired the first day are pretty effective at keeping them off the beach for the remaining six days of their vacations. If we’re lucky, they’ll never catch on!