It all starts innocently enough. My daughter says to me, “I have to go to the bathroom”. Well, thanks for the info I guess. I appreciate the heads up. This isn’t school, you don’t need to raise your hand and ask my permission. Anyway, just a moment later she reappears at my side with her eyes as big as saucers. “What is it?” I ask. “There is a bug as big as my head in my bathroom! I cannot go in there. Can I use the hall bath?”
There are 2 very important things you need to know to truly comprehend this situation. #1 – Why would my daughter ask if she could use the Hall Bath? Well, we live in a 3000 square foot home and the only areas that truly belong to my husband are the garage and the hall bath. And about a year and a half ago we got a cat who overtook the garage. My husband hates cats. So the only time I ever allow anyone to use the hall bath, other than my husband, is immediately after I’ve cleaned it. Hell, there might be a Playboy magazine in there for all I know.
#2 – What the hell kind of bug would be in a bathroom in my house that could be as big as a teenager’s head? Well she was exaggerating . . . a little. They are called Palmetto Bugs. They are called that because we live in South Carolina, known as the Palmetto State with Palmetto trees and these insects like to live in those trees among other places outdoors. That makes them sound so sweet right? Sweet, southern, South Carolina bugs. Or Florida Bugs – depends on who you ask. Anyway, they are actually huge cockroaches with wings and while all the research you do will tell you these wings are useless and they can’t fly . . . they can! I’ve seen them airborne! The good news is that these nasty insects really can’t survive inside your home or infest it because they live and thrive outside. They can only survive indoors for about 3 days. BUT – when you see one in your bathroom you don’t know if it’s day 3 or day 1.
Anyway – my daughter tells me there’s one of these things in her bathroom. Well, normally I’d get my husband to take care of it because while some people marry for love or money or fame, I got married so that I would never have to kill a bug or jump-start my own car. So far, this arrangement has worked out well. But right now my husband is 200 miles away. It’s slowly dawning on me that I’m going to have to handle this situation on my own. Since I have a fear of all things creepy-crawly bordering on a phobia, this is a BIG deal.
My first thought is that we can move. My daughter and I can leave right now and just move away never to return to this house again. Of course I soon realize how silly that idea is! We can’t MOVE! But we could go to a hotel and stay until my husband returns and can kill the bug. Yes, that’s what we’ll do.
“Well can I use the hall bath or not??” my daughter asks probably needing a bathroom even more urgently now that she’s seen a Palmetto Bug. Her fear is almost as strong as mine. “Use my bathroom.” I reply. I’m beginning to think that the whole ‘going to a hotel’ thing is probably not going to work either. I should set a good example for my daughter that women are strong and capable human beings not weaklings dependent on a man for their well-being. So I take a deep breath, get up, grab one of my running shoes and tip toe towards my daughter’s bathroom as if I’m sneaking up on a burglar with a baseball bat.
When I get to the bathroom I see the big sucker right in front of the toilet. Just sitting there looking all gross and disgusting! He’s ginormous!! Almost 2 inches long and nearly an inch wide, black with antenna and . . . wings. I also see my daughter’s tennis shoes. As a good mother, I should want the Palmetto Bug gunk to be on my own shoe instead of hers . . . that’s the kind of sacrifice that good mother’s make. I put down my shoe and grab one of hers. I’m not proud.
I stand there for an hour – or so it seems – calculating my next move. It seems simple, smash the bug with the shoe and he dies, but I know that so many things can go wrong. I can miss and this giant bug runs straight towards me and onto my foot. Or dear God what if he can fly and comes right at my face?!?!? What if I do smash him, but he doesn’t die and sticks just a little to the shoe but then comes loose and flies right in my face? And lastly, what if I do smash him and he’s dead – then what?
Ok, it’s all down to this moment. This is where I can show that I’m a tough, independent woman capable of taking care of herself . . . and her child. I manage nearly 25 people a day, I gave birth to an 8 lb baby, I can complete level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30-day Shred – I can defend my home from this invasion! I can kill this bug! So I raise the shoe and with all my might I swing down hard! I hear a very disgusting squish and crunch noise and then I put all my weight into squishing and crunching him even more. Whew! It’s done! My heart is pounding but I’ve done it. The bug is dead.
My daughter comes in “GROSS!! EEWWW – get rid of it!” Me, “What do you mean? It’s dead, just walk around it until Daddy gets home.” Her, “Mom – it’s right in front of the toilet and Daddy comes home on Friday. Today is Tuesday.” Me, “Can’t you just use my bathroom until Friday?” She just looks at me like I’ve lost my mind but I notice that she’s in no rush to clean up the dead bug either. Wimpy, wimpy teenager! I thought I raised her better than that.
So I grab what must have amounted to half a roll of toilet paper, pick up the bug, drop him in the toilet and flush him. Because when it comes to dead bugs I think they are all like Jason from Friday the 13th and if I do anything short of driving a wooden toothpick into his cockroach heart, he’ll come back to life. It’s happened before. I’ve killed one of these SOB’s, walked away and come back an hour later and the corpse is GONE! As the water rushes out of the toilet and the bug disappears into the sewer, I allow myself the thrill of victory. I have survived killing a giant Palmetto Bug! I think there’s a Girl Scout badge for that.
Then my daughter says, “Is that my shoe??” Me, “Um, yes, it was all I could find.” She reaches down and picks up my running shoe and then stands there holding it looking at me. “Wow,” I say, “where did that come from?” I am woman, hear me roar!
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