Nov 5, 2009

I WILL be warm: First Night in The Bunker

I was born and raised in South Florida. There are many bugs in South Florida.

When I was growing up, most people didn't have air conditioners. Since it was dang hot air that couldn't be conditioned, compensations had to be made. The house I grew up in was made of thick cement block. The ceilings were high, the windows were large with screens. On the outside, each window had a metal awning. An "attic fan" was placed in the middle of the hallway. When that thing was turned on, the curtains were sucked nearly straight out with the force of the air being pulled into the house. Hot, sticky, muggy, humid air.

In those conditions, one does not want to build an airtight house. Ours was built with the weather in mind, so there were LOTS of places for the house to breathe...and for bugs to get in.

In south Florida there is a particular bug called a "palmetto bug." These are l.a.r.g.e., flat, flying insects. These insects mostly live outside in the palmetto (and other) plants in the yard. That is, they live in said plants until a rainstorm or cold weather forces them to look for dryer living arrangements. The favored place was our house.

(I'm feeling a bit tense as I write this. When someone is terrorized as a child, it's hard to overcome the waves of memory when the subject is broached. I will soldier on because it's important to my story.)

These bugs congregated in two places. The kitchen (crumbs could always be found)...and...MY bedroom. My room was considered a 5-star resort. No surface was clear. Under the bed was filled with, well, who-knows-what. It was a sty that even a pig would not consider. (I no longer live in a sty, I'm happy to say, just in case you were wondering.) The P.B.s would get on top of the bookshelves and dive bomb me when I turned on the light. My screams could be heard a block away. Once, one of the evil things even had the audacity to sit on my hair near my ear when I was asleep. I awoke to hear some strange little sounds and did all but slap my face off trying to get it off of me. I'm cringing as I type this. I'm feeling a bit faint. I need some water...

OK, I'm feeling better. I shared this sordid childhood trauma with you because I wanted you to understand my mindset as we descended to THE BUNKER for our first night's sleep.

I had already gone in and cleared out the spiders. Well, the ones that I could find. But, what if I missed some? What if, God forbid, there were OTHER creatures down there? I'd only "visited" the basement before--mostly in the daytime.

At bedtime we settled in, did a little reading, then turned out the light. All was quiet except the soothing sound of the humidifier lulling us with its quiet hum. Ahhhhh. Warm and cozy.

Then, something dropped on my head.

I leaped into the air, switched on the light, knocked my glasses to the floor. I didn't scream, but my heart was beating wildly. Husband and son had pulled the covers over their heads. Useless, the pair of them. Didn't they KNOW that a creature had attacked me???

I steadied my breathing, searched my pillow, my hair, my shirt...and found nothing. Now you KNOW I would not be turning that light out until I found whatever had attacked me.

Finally, I decided to look up and see if there were any more of these things just waiting for me to settle down again.

So...remember that humidifier? Apparently we don't need to turn it on high just yet. The pipe above the bed was dotted all along with water. Water drops.

I wiped them off, turned the humidifier and lamp off, and settled into a nice, deep, warm, cozy sleep. I was safe.

(PS If you want to see one of those P.B.s, HERE is a link for information and pictures. I'm too emotionally drained to even try to upload one to this post. You're on your own.)


Packrat said...

Laughingcringing with you - not at you. UGH. I've seen palmetto bugs, thank you very much. YUCK.

PS - You might need to wrap or cover that pipe. :)

HappyMom said...

THANKS, for the memories!! (and that's not a happy thanks either!) I do not miss the nasty big bugs at all!!

Miss Girl says she likes Florida except for the bugs. She's never actually seen one, but I have shared my horror stories with her and I guess she considered that enough terror on its own!

P.S. I did not check the link for the picture. I actually wanted to be able to sleep tonight!!

Roxanne said...

Packrat--Cover the pipe? I figure that if I work it right I can imagine I'm in a tropical rain forest and REALLY feel warm!

HappyMom--So glad to be of service. I try to do that when I can...

Packrat said...

Sort of random, but not really - for those who live in the far north and have never seen a palmetto bug or a big cockroach - those suckers are as big as our northern mice!

Roxanne said...

And they fly.

Anonymous said...

Um... not to creep you out anymore but aren't PB's flying cockroaches?

I'm sure you like living up north for the sole reason that it gets cold enough to kill all the bugs. Whereas down south they just get bigger and bigger over the winter :)

That's the one thing I love most about the cold weather - -I think of all those creepy bugs dying. (Sorry God-- I know you made them too, for some reason)


Roxanne said...

Trixie--Yes, they are indeed a LARGE C.R. (See, I can't even bring myself to spell out the whole word.)

I miss the southern food. I miss the beach. I miss the familiarity of home. I miss the diversity.

I DON'T miss the bugs!

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