Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Curmudgeon takes a vacation -- Part V -- Bugs and Bugging Out

With each passing year, my waistline grows bigger (sort of like rings on a tree, I suppose) and, yet, my bladder grows smaller. And I had been driving longer than federal regulations permit for over-the-road truckers. And I have only a wee bit of my original colon. Yes, that's too much information. But, armed with that knowledge, you can't be surprised that, within a few hours after hitting the hay at our sketchy Winter Haven hotel, Nature came calling for the Curmudgeon.

Whilst attending to my own business, I could not help but notice the roach on the bathroom floor. In the hotel's defense, it was just one roach, and it was on its back. Clearly it had seen better days. It may even have been dead. On the other hand, I went to college in the City of Chicago. I shared an apartment with roaches once. There is, to my knowledge, no such thing as just one roach. Indeed, in my college days, it was sometimes thought amusing to turn on a bright light unexpectedly in a bathroom and watch the roaches form kaleidoscopic patterns as they scattered. If you're old enough, or a serious film student, you may begin to wonder what inspired Busby Berkeley.

I suppose that last image may have cost me my few remaining readers... but it's not the sort of thing you forget.

And this bug on the floor was one of the smaller, speedy ones I remembered from college in Chicago, not one of the larger, tropical variety. My good wife hates, loathes and despises your everyday Rogers Park Roach (not the scientific name, I know, but that's what I called them) -- but she has a particular aversion to the larger, tropical variety.

The tropical ones fly.

Anyway, taking no chances, I killed the roach, or killed it again, and flushed it for good measure. The toilet didn't work particularly well, but I suppose I'll save those details for the letter to the hotel chain that expects me to pay for this room.

I went back to bed, glad indeed that I had found the creature before my wife did. But now -- you should excuse the expression -- my antennae were out.

Maybe that's why I woke up again just a couple hours later. On the other hand, it was close to our normal wake-up time. Anyway, I started tippy-toeing back to the bathroom.

Our hotel room was dark. It was still dark outside and room-darkening curtains were adequate to block out any pre-dawn gray. But, when I travel, I always leave the light on in the bathroom, with the door slightly ajar. That way, if I wake up confused -- and it happens to the best of us -- I can quickly reorient myself to my surroundings. So while the bed where my wife was (I thought) still asleep, there was enough light for me to see the floor near the bathroom door... and anything thereupon.

In this case, there was a bug on the rug. A big bug. A couple inches long, cigar-shaped, and (fortunately for me) very still. I had no shoes on and I had no intention of trying to dispatch this creature with my bare feet. My wife has very sensible, thick-soled, teacher shoes. These were in easy reach -- well, as easy as may be for an increasingly middle-aged Curmudgeon who never did bend so good -- and I reached one anyway and drummed that big bug home to Big Bug Heaven.

I don't know whether my wife was awake the whole time, or whether it was just my impromptu bug-stomping that roused her to consciousness, but I heard a drowsy, "What's going on?" coming from the darkness across the room.

"Nothing," I said. "Just a bug. I squashed it."

"A bug?" There was no sleep in her voice anymore, and her pitch rose two octaves in four letters. "What kind of bug?"

"A waterbug. Nothing really. It's gone now."

"Let me see it." She got out of bed, cringing, and crept over toward the bathroom where, fortunately, there had been a well-positioned garbage can. She looked inside. "That's no waterbug! That's a cockroach! We're leaving!"

"Hold on," I said, as my wife picked anything up off the floor that might have been left and jumped back on the bed. "Let's get some coffee first, then decide what to do."

I got some coffee, then planted -- again, you should pardon the expression -- a bug in the desk clerk's ear about the uninvited guests in our room. "If my wife sees another one, we'll have to leave."

Now, I should say this about that hotel. The people were nice. The desk clerk must have pulled double-duty over the weekend, because it was the same lady when I got coffee on Sunday morning as had been working on Saturday night as I confirmed my reservation over the loud thumpa-thumpa-thumpa coming from the hotel lounge. But she was certainly sympathetic, promising an especially thorough cleaning (and a plunger and a TV remote -- on top of everything else, there was no TV remote in the room when we checked in). The staff person who promptly brought the plunger and the TV remote seemed like a very nice man, too. But, in bringing these items down the hall that morning, he, like me, must have passed by two more big bug carcasses in the hallway.

No, it was time to leave.

We left. We bugged out.

I didn't even tell Long Suffering Spouse about the little roach in the bathroom until we were some miles away.

"I'm glad you found those bugs," she told me. "And everyone in the hotel should be glad, too. I would have screamed my head off."

And she was not exaggerating.

But here we were, back in the car with the funky oil light, with all our possessions carefully examined before re-packing, on our way to the Orlando airport, there to swap out rental cars. We had no place to return to that night. And our son would be pitching early in the afternoon. Seeing him pitch was, after all, why we had come to Florida. We found Interstate 4 with no problem -- but Google Maps sent us off that soon enough, into a couple of new toll roads. It took forever to get to the airport, and forever more to swap out the car (the GMC Terrain was replaced by a similar, but smaller, Buick Encore). But we were still on target to make it to Youngest Son's game. If we could find the park. And if the traffic ever started moving. Why would there be a weekday rush hour on Sunday morning? Construction, apparently.

No, I didn't have a stroke, but Long Suffering Spouse was expecting me to topple over at any moment. Instead, we did make it to the park... eventually... and got to see the entire game (only because the start was delayed) and I'm very happy to report that the kid had a great outing. Then we could start looking for another hotel room. The next hotel turned out to be much nicer. It did have a microwave (which we never actually did use) and no bugs whatsoever. But there's no dramatic tension in any of that. By now, though, I think, I've explained how we drove to Florida and back in two cars, stayed in two hotel rooms, and yet were together the whole time....

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