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I can’t stand any size of cockroaches
Patty Leon new

I am deathly afraid of cockroaches. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny baby one or full sized monster. 

I recall growing up in South Florida cockroaches, or palmetto bugs as they are commonly known, were a nuisances most homes had to deal with.

I can trace this fear of the nasty and fully winged adult creature back to when I was about six years old.

One of the perks of living in Miami as a child was that Walt Disney World was a mere four hour drive and, back then, quite affordable even for a family of four. School was out for the summer, dad had time off from work and mom had packed up the suitcases. The morning we were heading out mom woke us up around 5 a.m.

It was still dark outside and I was barely awake but dressed. Dad sat me down on his recliner as he went off to wake up my brother and pack up the car. Mom was busy washing last minute dishes and prepping snacks for the road trip.

Rocking back and forth I soon drifted into a wondrous slumber filled with Disney visions. Thoughts of seeing Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck trickled through my brain.

Extremely ticklish, I woke up with the sensation of something tickling my ankle. My eyes fluttered open and I glanced down. The tickling moved from the back of my ankle to the front of my leg just at the base of the knee.

My eyes opened wider and I let out a blood curdling scream. For that brief instant anyone who heard me would swear I was being savagely bludgeoned to death. I was paralyzed and could only watch as this massive cockroach crossed back down my leg to my ankle, only to turn and start to crawl back up towards my knee.

I couldn’t speak or move, petrified that this Godzilla sized roach might run up my leg faster, towards my quivering body. Or worse fly towards my head or face. Thinking back I’m sure this was only a few brief seconds. But as a little girl watching this huge bug run across my tiny leg – if felt like an eternity of terror.

My dad bolted into the house, my mom dropped the dishes in the sink and came running into the family room. They rushed over to the recliner and looked down at me. My dad looked into my terrified eyes as I stared down the beast rushing up my leg. He grabbed the dish towel away from my mom and swatted the monster off my leg. My mom grabbed the broom and smashed the beast to pieces.

My brother, who only woke up after hearing me scream, came stomping into the room realized what happened, called me a chicken and walked back to his bedroom to get dressed.

Finally free of the creature’s grasp, I started to cry and curled up into the fetal position. My dad lifted me up and carried me to my room. Knowing I was still scared to death he turned on my night light and tucked me under the sheets until the car was packed and we were ready to go.

The trip to Walt Disney World was fabulous. It’s funny how I can recall I had a great time yet most of that is a blur while the nightmare of that horrific creature crawling up my leg still lingers to this day.

Since then roaches always make me freeze in my tracks. No matter the size the moment I see one I analyze what steps I can take to get out of its way. It takes every ounce of courage I can muster up to even try and kill one with a broom or bug spray. I always picture it defying the odds and running after me despite attempts of whacking it with a weapon or drowning it in Raid. Normally, if someone else is with me, I hand them the task of destroying the beast. It is one of the reasons I own cats, they simply love that job and handle the matter quite efficiently.

I’m not bothered, so far, by other insects as much. I don’t freak out around ants, bees or beetles. Unless it’s a horned beetle. Those suckers are huge. I had a terrible experience with those during a road trip in 1996 while driving through Van Horn Texas. As they say everything is bigger in Texas especially those suckers and to see one close up as you try and use the bathroom at 3 a.m. – horrific.

But that is a story for another day. 

Roaches still top the list. Whenever I see a Yates –Astro commercial I still turn the channel to avoid seeing their mascot roach.

Even animated they are icky.

-Patty Leon

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