The First Time I Showered With a Cockroach
I’ve always cursed my shower. It’s not easy to clean. It doesn’t work right, only shooting water from the showerhead and not ever the faucet. And, its side wall is so tall I knock my shin on it at least three times a week, despite living with it for more than a decade.
But today gave me a new reason to curse it.
When I pulled back the curtain to hop in, the water already running, I saw two long-ass antennae. And they were connected to a meaty cockroach. And he was freaking out as the water was hitting him in the stomach.
THERE IS A COCKROACH IN MY SHOWER. AND I NEED TO GET IN. AND I CAN’T TOUCH IT. AND IT’S TOO BIG TO GO DOWN THE DRAIN.
I live in the desert. Critters are everywhere. We have scorpions and snakes and tarantulas and regular old spiders, and crickets, and these big, juicy beetles that have no sense of direction. We also have cicadas, an insect we’ve dubbed the “thunder bug” because it always seems to hum in chorus with its buddies when the humidity is absolutely stifling.
We have bugs. Everywhere. Outside, at school, and apparently now, in our shower.
But, I feel like cockroaches are different than bugs. They’re, like, alien or something to me. My body has a physical reaction, a goosebump-y recoil, whenever I see one. A gagging shudder. The other bugs? I gasp, or scream or stomp on ‘em or run and hide – especially from those weird beetles that fly like they’re totally drunk, often into my face. But none of them send that creepy current through my body like a cockroach does.
That’s why I’m so surprised that today was the first time I showered with a cockroach. Not that I expected it sooner. I expected it never. It’s the thing of nightmares, like The Shining or Wal-Mart on a Saturday.
I couldn’t kill it. It’s too crunchy, and then I’d have to scoop up its carcass. And, a former co-worker once told me that cockroaches come for their dead. Sweet Jesus, no. I don’t need an army of mourning cockroaches invading my shower. One was enough.
So, I just kind of swooshed the water at it with my foot at a safe distance and watched it slide down into the drain. Because, since the shower is so fancy, it doesn’t have a plug. It just has a little grate inside it, deep enough for a cockroach to hang out in.
And then I showered. With him in there. And there are little things, I learned, that I would need to do differently to protect myself from the drowning, yet still lurking, cockroach. Like, I had to face the drain to make sure that little sucker didn’t come back out and seek revenge. I had to hang on to my soap for life, because if it dropped and slid down toward the drain, I was sure I would die right there. Or just abort mission and be stinky that day. And if he did crawl out of that drain, my spazzy exit from the shower would become legendary.
And I instantly became a sprint shampoo and conditioner rinser. I mean, as if I was being timed. Because I had to turn my back on my enemy – established as the cockroach in the drain – to get everything out of my hair.
And when I did, I thought of Goldie Hawn, in that one movie – was it Bird on a Wire? – when she showers in a nasty hotel and a roach falls onto her head. It’s like my brain couldn’t help but go there. I also realized that if that cockroach had a ridiculous lung capacity and was somehow able to sense that my back was turned and he could make a break for it, he would be running super fast, towards me, hoping to get out of the water that was pounding onto the bathtub floor.
This is why I was quick. I don’t even know if I got everything out. I don’t even know how I had time to have all of these thoughts. I’ve taken longer showers in public, at mud runs, where the water is ice cold and you’re just hoping to get the big chunks off you.
But I finished. And now I can say I did it. As if that’s a thing – showering with a cockroach. It’s a thing scaredy-cats do, I guess. It was better than lighting the whole bathtub on fire. But, I’ll get my lighter ready in case his family comes for him.