I realize that my last few posts have not been all that interesting. So as far as my book is concerned, all I will say is that I finished revising and it ended up being 78,626 words. Woo-hoo.
Okay, so here’s the story. Yes, it is a true story. I hope it’s as funny in writing as it was in person.
Once upon a time, a group of friends and I decided to take a trip down to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. Instead of staying in a hotel, one of the guys’ parents arranged for us to stay at a campsite in these really nice little cabins, complete with refrigerators, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing (and yes, that is my definition of “roughing it”). We spent two nights in the cabins. The first night, all of us girls stayed up talking all night, much to the chagrin of my friend, Brittany. We all got about two hours of sleep that night, but we were so excited to go to Schlitterbahn that we didn’t care. It ended up being a fantastic day, full of tubing, sliding, and surfing the wave pool, and by the time we returned to the cabins, we were all chlorinated, sunburned, and exhausted. I was so tired that I didn’t even care that a grasshopper hopped onto my leg while I was out taking pictures of the campsite.
After we were settled in the cabins for the evening, I hopped in the shower. Now, the bathroom was designed so that the wall that separated it from the main cabin didn’t reach the ceiling. That meant that you could hear everything that your cabin mates said and/or did while you were in the shower. It also meant that your cabin mates could throw things like red gummy worms over the top of the wall and into the shower with you.
I was in the middle of rinsing out my hair when all of a sudden, one of the girls screamed. It wasn’t an ordinary scream. It was a scream of pure terror; of someone who had just looked into the deepest circle of hell and seen all of their most vivid and traumatizing nightmares staring back at them. I knew immediately what that scream meant.
There was a cockroach in the cabin.
I, like every rational human being, am terrified of cockroaches. I was even more terrified of them then, back before I trained myself how to slaughter them from a distance. I immediately began formulating an escape strategy. How was I going to get from the bathroom to the metaphoric safety of my bunk bed if I had to cross a room with a rampaging cockroach on the loose?
Before I could come up with a plan, my friend, Kara, screeched, “OH MY GOD IT’S FLYING!” That was it. I had to get out of there. Some may argue that I was foolish to leave the refuge shower, but keep in mind that the roach had wings, and the wall to the restroom was open. I would have rather been in the cabin and able to see the beast with my own eyes than to have him surprise me in a dark and enclosed space. I leapt out of the shower, threw on my pajamas, and bolted for the main cabin, where all of my friends were curled up on their beds. I scampered up to the top bunk with Kara and Brittany.
“Where is it?” I breathed, feeling like a soldier hiding in a ditch from an enemy that was about to open fire.
“I don’t know. We lost it,” Brittany explained, sounding tired and slightly irritated.
Knowing that none of us would be able to relax, or get down from the bed for that matter, we called one of the guys we were with to come over and kill it for us. As he searched through the mess of food that was stacked up against the wall, we watched on, admiring him for his chivalry. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find it, so after wishing us good luck, he headed back to his own cabin.
The five of us sort of looked around at each other, wondering what to do next. Poor Kara was about to have a panic attack. Roaches are her Kryptonite. She hates them more than anyone I’ve ever met. Meanwhile, Brittany could barely keep her eyes open. I was right there with her. I desperately wanted to sleep, but that wasn’t going to happen as long as the roach was running free. I realized then that my desire for sleep outweighed my crippling fear of that stupid bug. Summoning up every ounce of courage that I possessed, I hopped off the bunk bed, grabbed a broom, and began poking around the room for the roach.
“I’m telling you, it’s waiting for me,” Kara said. “As soon as I go over there, it’s going to come out and kill me.”
I didn’t doubt it. I wholeheartedly believe that roaches can smell fear and that they attack those that smell weak or vulnerable.
“Maybe if we name it, we won’t be as scared of it,” I said. Naming things usually creates some sense of endearment.
“Demon From Hell. How about that?” Kara seethed.
“How about… Cuddly?” Our friend, Kaitie, suggested. So our little friend became Cuddly the Cockroach.
It turns out that naming things you find disgusting and horrifying does not make them any less so. We were all still just as terrified by the idea of Cuddly crawling on us as we were when he was just another nasty roach.
After we named him, Kaitie hopped down off her bed and helped me search for Cuddly. Still no luck.
Then, taking a deep breath, Kara announced, “Okay. I’m going to help. You watch. As soon as I get down there, it’s gonna come out.”
Sure enough, less than two minutes later, “OH I KNEW I’D BE THE ONE TO FIND YOU, YOU LITTLE S**T! OH YOU LITTLE S**T!”
I turned just in time to see her grab a dustpan off the wall and bring it down on that poor roach with what I can only call all the wrath of Heaven and Hell combined. Over and over, she whacked the life out of Cuddly the Cockroach, with every separate blow accompanied by some sort of expletive, some of which I’m not even sure were actual words.
“Kara, Kara, it’s okay! It’s dead!” someone assured her.
“NOT. DEAD. ENOUGH.” Whack! Whack! Whack! “IT NEEDS TO BE IMPALED AND DISEMBOWELED AND BURNED!”
After Cuddly was finally dead enough, we swept his poor, flattened carcass out onto our front porch as warning to all other bugs who might have considered dropping in unexpectedly.
A few years later, I was in a poetry class and our assignment was to write a ballad. Now, I have mentioned before that I am pretty much the worst poet ever, but this is the one poem that I’m actually proud to share. As you may have guessed, it was inspired by our poor, dearly departed Cuddly.
The Ballad of Sir Cuddly B. Cockroach
An original poem by Jacqueline E. Smith
Life in New Braunfels suited one
Sir Cuddly Cockroach fine.
Fresh country air, tall fields of grass
And campsites full of grime.
He lived life as a happy bug,
Full of stress-free, sunshine days.
By moonlit nights he searched for food
Through cabins’ muddled maze.
Then one day in Cuddly’s realm
Arrived five human girls.
Two were tall, two were short,
One wore a head of curls.
Now these girls seemed nice enough,
No motives to attack.
Cuddly stepped out to say hello,
A scream, a swear, a WHACK!
Sir Cuddly’s blood was shed that night.
Just what was his offense?
Being born a lowly little roach,
Devoid of common sense.
Poor departed Cuddly B.
The life he loved so well
Was ended by the vicious girls
Who bid him, “Rot in hell!”