At the end of Robert Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies”, the protagonist, who has managed through gender re-assignment and time travel to be his own mother and father, seems trapped in his own narcissistic circle of causality. After he has completed his cycle of movement and ‘movements’, he speaks to an unnamed other of his loneliness, only to ask of the rest of the world “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?”
His zombies, it seems, are the agentless walking-living, that teeming mass of people who aren’t causes of their own existence, who look outward for will, meaning, and mission. Zombies, thus, are easy metaphors for the automatic behavior of human beings—the way we mindlessly consume ourselves and the world around us from the moment we’re born until we die. Not being a zombie is, on one hand, a losing battle against appetite and attrition. Not thinking about zombies? Something different altogether.
As I was walking my dog during an unseasonably warm November afternoon, a song came on my iPod that brought me back in time for about two years. It was a song that was introduced to me by a smartass tattooed felon who thought he was far more badass than he actually was. I started thinking about my previous job and the people I encountered, which then led me to think of songs that reminded me of them. With a long story before the songs, here it is:
After I graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, I started my professional career in the same cowboy town in the desert of western Colorado where I did a summer internship between my second and third years of law school.
I was both happy and frustrated to be returning to this place–the only semi-civilized area between Denver and Salt Lake City (each 4 hours away in opposite directions.) I knew my then-boyfriend (now-husband) wouldn’t be able to be successful employment-wise in the area, so I was hesitant to return. This was a place where if people were lucky, they had a GED. However, I knew I could get some great experience and I was heading back to a place I was semi-familiar with having spent 3 months there. I convinced the guy that it was a great career move for me, he agreed and away we went. When I arrived, I joined a group of attorneys who lived to fight the Man and spent countless hours representing the (wrongly) accused poor folks of the dusty, deserty town, for nothing but a mere pittance.