Try not to think about roaches


There's a reason you hear that scary music in the background. (Photo courtesy of; scary music courtesy of yearstricken's brain. Try listening harder if you can't hear it; I can.)

I’ve been giving some thought to cockroaches lately. (Notice that I didn’t begin as I so often do with something like, “Roaches are on my mind.” That is too creepy, and I would then plant a disturbing image in your mind that would be very difficult to get rid of, especially if you have ever seen Planet Earth: Caves on the Discovery Channel or on video. If you kept your eyes open during the scene in the cave that was filled with millions of roaches feasting on bat guano, you probably slept with a can of RAID beside your bed for at least a week, or possibly for the rest of your life, if you’re like me. We don’t have a lot of bat guano lying around in our bedroom, but roaches will eat just about anything. And for all I know, as I lie in bed, I may very well look like a pile of bat guano. It’s one of those questions that I find hard to ask my husband.)


Why am I using up my limited number of brain cells thinking about roaches? I blame it on my first grade teacher at Ascarte Elementary School, Mrs. Severe. (Yes, that was her real name; and no, she was not severe.) She has always been my favorite teacher because she taught me to read. During that time, the public school system provided education starting from first grade, not kindergarten. In the fall of the year I turned five, mother felt it was time I started school. She had put up with me all day for five years; now it was someone else’s turn. So, the school allowed me to start, with the proviso that I had to keep up.


Although my sister was 18 months older, she was one grade ahead of me because she was born in the middle of the year, and I was born in the beginning.  However, just as she wanted to keep a wide space between us when we shared a double bed, having just one grade between us was not wide enough for her, so she skipped a grade. We always attribute that to the fact that she is smart, but I vaguely remember that it had something to do with “cooties.” Mine, I believe.


But back to roaches. I lived in Okinawa, Japan for a number of years, so I am familiar with the small, scurrying kind, as well as the large, flying ones. But recently I read this article about the leaproach. This roach can leap a distance of 50 times its body length, has “extreme” bulging eyes, and its favorite food is grasshopper poop. Which leads to the important question: why I am obsessing over a leaping roach that lives in South Africa?


Maybe watching all those horror movies as a child created the need for the adrenaline rush that can only come through an adventure in which I face terror (or peek through my fingers at it) without backing down. Right before I am overwhelmed or overtaken, I escape and live to tell about it. Now, when I read an article about something that can scare or startle me, like leaproaches, my imagination takes over. Sure that peaceful-looking field, humming with grasshoppers, looks like a nice place to take a walk. But, folks, there are tens of thousands of roaches in there. Don’t look now, but they’re starting to leap! Somehow I always escape, finish reading the article, and not only live to tell about it, but live to write about it as well.