Before relocating to Florida from New Jersey I was informed that humidity would adversely affect my watercolor paintings. (It didn't.) Others warned me about mold, termites, hurricanes, floods, love bugs and humidity. There was not one word about roaches.
All habitats are plagued by roaches at one time or another, but no one much talks about them. Better to deny their existence.
Until one quiet, pleasant evening. After dinner my wife, Liz, and I changed our clothes, donned our pajamas and settled in to watch a movie. About halfway through we stopped the disc so that I, according to doctor's orders for a well-seasoned gentleman such as myself, could get off my butt to exercise my legs. I walked down the long hallway leading to the kitchen, circled the dinette table several times and walked back past the den into the master bedroom. And stopped short in my tracks. There sat this large, ugly roach, staring at me with utter disdain for my presence and its impending demise.
"No way, buster," I said, proceeding with a decisive maneuver to kill it. With determination I crushed it with my right foot as I gave a victory cry of "Yahoo!" But to my embarrassment the roach had somehow avoided my fancy footwork and raced away.
"Not so fast," I hollered, chasing it with left- and right-foot stomps to no avail. Then the absurd happened. The roach fought back as I lost my balance and fell backward.
"Liz," I screamed, unable to stop my fall. She was beside me in a split second and found me half-sitting and half-prone on the bedroom floor between the dresser and the bed.
"I lost my balance and hit my head against the edge of the dresser," I said. A stream of blood ran down the right side of my face and dripped onto my pajama leg. My right arm was covered with bruises, and a huge flap of skin hung from my elbow. My painful left thumb was turning purple.
Then, in complete defiance, the roach appeared out of nowhere and walked slowly toward me, perhaps gloating over its victory.
"Can you figure the audacity of the little beast," I said to Liz, and with vengeance and blood-soaked towel I smashed it into the rug.
"Sweet victory, at last," I added, as Liz cleaned up the mess I had made. She kept handing me towel after towel to control the flow of blood from both my head and elbow.
With Liz's help I managed to get to my feet and prepared to be driven to the nearest hospital emergency room. I decided to stay in my bloody pajamas rather than change into something presentable, thereby appearing to need immediate attention. Liz parked directly in front of the ER entrance and raced inside to fetch a wheelchair and inform them of my arrival.
As though they were expecting me, I was registered at once and ushered into a private room to record my insurance coverage and vital signs.
"See what bloody pajamas can accomplish?" I whispered to my wife.
The attention I received from the medical personnel was gentle and caring, but I did detect a well-meaning snicker or two at my having lost a battle with a roach.
One by one and in proper order my wounds were attended to. But first I got a tetanus shot. Ouch! That was followed by first aid for my bleeding elbow, a long gurney ride to the imaging room to scan my head for internal injuries, four staples in my head to close the wound and a big bandage over the scrapes on my elbow. The thumb did not need any attention.
It was almost midnight when I was released with a warm handshake and well wishes for a speedy recovery.
At home we decided to celebrate my survival by consuming a large portion of vanilla fudge ice cream. With each spoonful I relived the events of this strange evening. We never did see the end of the DVD.
The final score for the day: one roach dead, one victim alive and kicking.
John M. Angelini, 86, is a painter and writer living in Hudson.