Why Is There A Roach In My Hair?

Not exactly the same, but a close design to the apartment in this story.

Not exactly the same, but it looked a lot like this.

I recently had the extreme pleasure of reading A Camping We Will Go on mentalmom02’s blog  My one complaint is that it woke memories that I would rather have left quietly gathering dust and spiderwebs in a hidden nook of my mind. Unfortunately, now that the memory is in the front and center it looks like I will have to blog about it and subject you, Gentle Reader, to the horror of it all.

Before you get too freaked out, just keep in mind that it was a long time ago so roaches may not be that big any more, but I’m pretty sure they still fly.

OK….my late husband and I had been living together for about a year and had decided to get married. I’m still not sure how the marriage decision was made. I do know that there was no knee bending. Just, one day, we were making plans for a wedding and it didn’t seem to be for any of our friends so …..we were the only ones left, it had to be us.

As a wedding gift to ourselves we decided to put the cart before the horse and do the Honeymoon first with our location of choice being Florida. Not just anyplace in Florida, oh no! We were going to have our Honeymoon in the Keys where we had met four years earlier.

Did you know that 40 years ago (did I really just say that??) you could hop in your car,  drive to the Florida Keys in January and find a room without a reservation?  There were no expressways to Key West back then. The bridges were barely wide enough for two delivery trucks to pass, and motor home repair shops made their living on retired half-blind motor home drivers who almost made it though the gauntlet of the concrete-sided bridges.

The plan was to drive down and stay somewhere near Long Key for a month while exploring the area, then drive to my parent’s home in north Florida for our wedding, and I have to say the plan worked beautifully. Without bothering to book a reservation anywhere, we drove until we saw a place that looked nice, rented it for a month, and unpacked the car into it.

Our efficiency unit was so beautiful! Inside and out it was redwood in a chalet design with soaring cathedral ceilings and an open floor plan. There was an 8′ high wall that divided the kitchen from the bedroom and above it was open all the way to the soaring beamed ceiling.

The night we moved into the motel.

Did I mention that I am an avid reader? or that I’m somewhat compulsive when it comes to finishing a chapter before closing the book? I have to mention that. Otherwise you, Gentle Reader, will think the Honeymoon was over before it started when I tell you that  my fiance watched some TV then headed off to bed but I, of course, was “in the middle of a chapter” so I was staying up to finish it. He turned off lights as he went to bed until the only illumination was the lamp in my corner of the living room.

I sat there for a good 10 minutes, happily reading about something or other when I heard what sounded like a B52 Bomber approaching from my 4:00 position. I barely had time to lift my head to see what the noise was when I was hit broadside smack in the head by a flying roach that must have been born when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

Now, before I go any further, I should tell you that this was back in the days when I had waist-length hair that I was fond of braiding. Often I would wash my hair and braid it before it dried. The next day I would spend an hour taking the braids out and running my fingers through the gnarly knots to create as much volume as possible. It was the white Afro look. Kind of the opposite of Cher. I took the braids out of my hair about 3 hours earlier in the day and my ‘Afro’ was in full, glorious bloom.

So…. giant prehistoric roach flies across the room, zeroing in on the light, and as he flew my head lifted just in time to capture him in mid-flight. At that point in time I wasn’t really sure what had hit me and thought it might be a very noisy moth so I reached up to try to brush it off my head, but what should I encounter but a hard, crusty something that seemed to be trying to dig its way down to my scalp.

Needless to say, I let out a blood curdling scream the very volume of which lifted my poor, innocently slumbering soon-to-be husband a full foot off the bed wondering if the local air raid warning siren was malfunctioning. A second scream of almost equal intensity and the sound of someone being severely beaten brought him running to the living room in his underwear with a slipper in one hand and a toothbrush in the other–obviously well prepared to fend off the most fearsome of intruders.

Now, this is where it gets complicated.

Imagine being wakened from a deep, restful sleep by a blood curdling scream, grabbing whatever was at hand to fend off monsters or aliens, rushing in the semi-dark to save your beautiful princess with the long wavy hair……only to find her apparently trying to beat her own head off with a book. She’s gone completely stark raving mad!’ …… is the first thought in your head, followed closely by, ‘Thank goodness the wedding is next week!’

Fortunately my future husband was a quick thinker so he immediately grabbed the book, pinned my arms to my side, threw me to the floor and sat on me.  Since I was still screaming incoherently he started smoothing my hair down and making soothing noises. That was when he felt something large and hard digging it’s awkward and tangled way toward my head like some alien brain-eating invader. Happily, his entrance from the darkened bedroom meant that he could see pretty good-by the light of the one lamp and he could see the shape of the insect……

Oh….did I mention that he had a horrible aversion to insects? That he slept with a trailer sized can of RAID next to the bed? Being the gentleman that he was, he stopped just short of spraying my hair full of insecticide, although he did reach for the can on the counter. I’m still not sure if it was my near comatose whimpering or the fact that he would have to let go of me to reach it that stopped him in mid-stretch. Instead, he bent closer and, still sitting on me, carefully disentangled the monolithic insect until he could lift if from my hair with my book and squash it between the pages. Then he flung the book across the room.

Before letting me up he made me look at him and repeat back to him that I was OK and there was no bug in my hair. To this day, if I’m up alone reading after dark there are two lights on in the room and the one farthest from me is the brightest.

In case you’re wondering, the book was ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ by Robert Heinlein. It was hard cover and went out in the garbage the next day–complete with squashed bug. A month later, as a wedding gift, I received a brand new copy from my brand new husband. The note inside said,

‘To Princess with Love, Dragonslayer’

Please visit my other blogs at ‘Where Do I Go From Here?’ and ‘Flakes Of Life’.