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Monday, July 30, 2012

A Winning Personality

Below is a story I wrote about my mother and published in my weekly newspaper column. After reading it in the paper, she scolded me: "People are going to think I have roaches in my house!"

The story is true. She did have a roach in her house. I told her that everyone who lives in Georgia has had a roach in the house. Anyone who pretends she hasn't can't be trusted.

Besides, her worry about what people will think is severely misplaced. She should really be concerned that now they know she's hording VHS tapes in her closet!

Shall We Waltz, Madame?

                As if it was not enough to slip and fall – THUNK! – hitting her head on a chair on the way down, the body was missing. When my mama skidded across the slick of Raid sprayed liberally the night before by her own hand, she noted to herself on the way to the floor that the greasy, hip-breaking film was the only evidence of the assault that occurred a brief eight hours earlier. An intruder had surprised her in the kitchen.
My daddy heard the thud and found my mother sprawled in a dazed heap, reviewing the events of the previous evening, paranoid that her vulnerability would draw out the vile creature. She clearly remembered startling and side-stepping and letting out a choked yelp of horror. It had been no figment of her imagination. She had snatched the can of poison from the cabinet beneath the sink and let loose with it before retreating at Olympic speed-walker pace.
                All of that said, there are worse things than a missing corpse. 
My mama, feeling generally defeated, hobbled to the bedroom to prepare for her day. There! At the foot of the bed! The intruder poised in an unsteady, unpredictable pause of zig-zagging, giving off the aura of brazen defiance coupled with triumph, and perhaps even an invitation to awkwardly waltz. Without hesitation she put her left foot on top of it with exacted pressure, pinning it down without squishing the life out of it, because she simply has no stomach for such ghastly scenes.
Maintaining her precision perfect stance, she waited for my father, who, ignorant of her predicament, busied himself piddling around the yard. All alone in this precarious circumstance with the unwelcome visitor, her posture faltering, she searched her options. If she let up, her tormenter would surely make a break for better ground. So she waited, confident my father would soon rescue her as he’d done when she wallowed unbecomingly in the residue of last night’s disturbance. He would valiantly collect the crawler and scuttle it into the toilet. Flush.
The strain in her legs neared unbearable, as did the idea that the day was getting away while she minded her prisoner. As time passed, it became painfully apparent that even though she put her foot down, the revolting specter beneath it still held all the power. From its pressed position, it rendered her helpless and immobile. Pivoting, carefully, she positioned herself to sit on the bed.
Determined to arise from this trauma unscathed, however, she surveyed her surroundings. An extensive collection of VHS tapes peeked out from the closet. As if steered by God to give testimony to the indefatigable argument that He has a purpose for all things, she rose and began a slow pivot to angle her right arm toward the closet while keeping her left foot securely atop the intruder. Sssstrrrrreeeeeeeetch, she reached and grabbed a short stack of tapes. Wiggling and waggling on her free foot with renewed hope, she returned to her seat on the bed.
Implementing the strategic second-stage attack on the adversary depended on elemental swiftness. Having put her foot down for so long, she now lifted it and . . . abruptly ceased the descent of the of VHS tapes to the back of the interloper. As if it was not enough to slip and fall – THUNK! – hitting her head on a chair, the body had cracked and oozed. The palmetto bug, to my mother’s horror, grotesquely reclined, victorious in a pool of its own spoils.
                When my mother puts her foot down on me for publicly romanticizing this morbid dance of death, I will not fare as well as the wretched roach. I do not possess its winning personality.
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson, GA. Email Lucy at and visit her web site,


Anonymous said...

I remember one apartment we moved into when we were in our early years of marriage. One night I saw one of THOSE come out from under the kitchen cupboards. I started spraying and they came out by the thousands. It was like a horror movie. Finally the infestation stopped. I sat up all night. The next day, we left.

Jo said...

They're not fun but they are part of living in the south. Loved the story.

flower said...


Lexa Cain said...

This was a very funny post - but if I wrote it, my mom would be mad at me, too. They have to understand that it's in a good cause - the cause of Comedy! :-)

William Kendall said...

Oh dear... yes, your mother would not be pleased at all!