© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, C.L. Beck, shoe, cockroach, antennae, entomologist, bug, Mother Nature, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)
It was six inches long, with wiggly antennae. We were on vacation, in a hotel. My husband, Russ, was asleep with a cold, and I was in a stand-off with Mother Nature.
“Russ, get up. There’s a giant bug.” You’d think an entomologist would say something more precise than, “a giant bug.” I should have mentioned the order and species. But when you’re faced with a bug that’s big enough to consider you dinner, you don’t think rationally.
“Just squash it,” Russ mumbled.
Squash it? Its itty-bitty eyes were tracking my every move!
“We’re in a five-star hotel. I shouldn’t have to squish anything.” Then my scientific nature kicked in. “What kind of bug is that?”
I squinted, trying to focus. The bug would have to have been the size of the Empire State building for me to identify it without my glasses. But if I could get a little closer, that might help.
It was a nutty thing to do, but I crept forward. “Aack!” I screamed, realizing what it was and leaping back.
My scream didn’t scare it, but the movement did. It took off and ran under the hide-a-bed sofa. It certainly knew its way around. How long had it been living here? I knew, from personal experience, that you could suck a bug up with the vacuum cleaner. Why hadn’t housekeeping done that?
Russ snored and I realized a man who was sick enough to sleep through my screaming really needed his rest.
“Russ, wake up. It’s a huge, disgusting cockroach,” I said with a shiver. “What should we do about it?”
I was thinking along the lines of calling the bomb squad to roust the bug. Russ opened his blurry eyes and said, “Ignore it and go to sleep.”
“Who in their right mind can sleep with a monster cockroach in their room?”
“I can,” Russ said. He rolled over and started snoring. What had happened to the man who promised—at the alter—to love, cherish, and defend me from killer bugs?
In all my years of schooling, I learned many things about cockroaches. Things a person should never have to know and that I won’t repeat because they’ll just freak you out. But the most important piece of knowledge was gained living in an apartment in Maryland.
If you turn out the lights, cockroaches creep from their hiding places. When the lights are turned back on, some of them fly at you.
Standing in the dark, waiting for a cockroach to come out rates right up there with going through airport security. If the dumb thing ran across my bare feet or flew in my face, I was going to go out, buy a gun and shoot it.
I flicked off the light. When I flipped it back on there was the bug on the floor, staring at me, daring me to eliminate it. That was all it took. It would never do for an entomologist, turned mom, turned writer, to be outwitted by a bug.
Grabbing a sandal, I shrieked and chased it around the room. It scuttled behind the sofa, along the wall, behind the drapes, but I kept chasing. I threw another shoe in front to block it, and it stopped next to our bed.
“Die, you lousy bug!” I yelled, as I brought the sandal down.
Russ leaned up on one elbow, coughed and in a sleep-muffled voice said, “Did you get it?”
I had no clue. Either it was under my shoe or under our bed. And if it was under my shoe, was it dead? I tilted the shoe. The bug waved its antennae at me. I pushed down hard and it made a sound that can only be described as …
Well, you don’t want to know what it sounded like, but let me say it was now dead.
The next morning, I suggested we call the management and inform them of the cockroach. Russ waved the hotel information card. “This says we’re in a tropical area and so we might see tropical bugs. If we do, we’re supposed to call the front desk and they’ll be happy to take care of the problem.”
The management wasn’t fooling me. I knew what that meant. They’d send someone up with a shoe.
What's playing in my head: La Cucaracha (Unknown authorship)
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