Last night we were laying in bed watching television when I drifted off into a nice, deep sleep. Suddenly, J was waking me and saying “Look. On the TV.”
She didn’t say “Look! On the TV!” like I was going to see one of our children being awarded a Nobel Prize, or my picture on America’s Most Wanted. She said, “Look. On the TV, ” in a breathless way that indicated we were about to die.
I blinked my eyes open and instantly saw the object of her terror: A bluish, glowing fuzz emanating from where we kept our bedroom TV . Then, I put my glasses on so I could actually see. Silhouetted against the screen was a bug the size and shape of Manhattan. I recognized that shape: A gigantic cockroach.
We were parked at Sunnier Palms Nudist Park in Florida, and here’s the thing: If you tell a Floridian that you saw a gigantic cockroach, they’ll correct you and say “No, it was a palmetto bug,” shaking their head in that way that says “Oh you dumb tourists have so much to learn about our state.”
I’m sorry. Where we come from, it’s a freaking cockroach. It looks like a cockroach. It crawls like a cockroach. It stares at you like a cockroach, that stare that says “We’re just waiting for you puny humans to wipe yourselves out in a nuclear holocaust so we can inherit the earth.”
And I have science to back me up, namely from mega pest-control company Orkin’s website. And I quote:
“Palmetto Bug vs. Cockroach
A cockroach species commonly called a “palmetto bug” is the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).”
Did you read that? The “palmetto bug” is the American cockroach! I guess by calling it a palmetto bug, you won’t be as squeamish when you wake up and see one crawling across your television screen?
There’s one more fact that Orkin points out about the palmetto bug, aka the American cockroach:
“They will fly to lights. This particular behavior is disconcerting for homeowners who encounter a large roach that flies near their face when entering doors with lights nearby in the evening.”
They fly! Which, according to my hyperventilating bride, is how our current “not a cockroach” cockroach ended up on the screen.
“Oh, get it, get it!” she implored as I tumbled naked out of bed. I grabbed a flip flop to smash it but before I could be a hero, the beast launched from the TV and flew to the wall above our bed. It crawled rapidly along the wall, as palmetto-bug-cockroaches tend to do, and avoided my poorly-timed swing with the flip flop. It then dropped on to J’s pillow.
She pulled the pillow to the foot of the bed (she had long evacuated the bed) and I raised the flip flop for a definitive blow. Except the cockroach was no longer on the pillow. We couldn’t see it anywhere.
We turned the pillow over and over. We pulled the blanket and sheets off the bed and shook them violently. We took all the pillows out of their pillow cases. We lifted the mattress, searched the floor, the walls, the ceiling. The gigantic, crawling, flying thing had vanished.
After 10 more minutes of searching, we remade the bed. Then, lifting the pillows 17 more times, we eventually laid down and stared at the ceiling. Wide awake.
I woke up the next morning and saw that our dog, who normally sleeps with us, had wisely left the bedroom and spent the night on the couch.