Tale of terror or travel? It’s both.

When I was about thirteen years old or so, my mother took me and my grandmother on a trip out west to Yellowstone.  We spent hours in the car trying desperately not to kill one another while driving around all major cities.  No, we weren’t driving around IN the cities.  We were quite literally driving around them.  My mother, who grew up learning to drive around suburban Detroit, refused to drive in any other city.  Which meant that we didn’t stay in any large chain hotel/motels.  Oh no.  That would be too tame.  No, we stayed on the “outskirts” of towns.  We stayed “off the beaten track”.  We stayed in places no one has ever heard of.  We stayed in places that were likely used as inspiration for the Bates Motel.  Heck, we may have stayed IN the Bates Motel, but any psychopathic motel clerk knew better than to attempt to visit, let alone murder, three females who have been trapped together in a car for fifteen hours.  Even psychopaths get scared.

Now lets be real here.  I was thirteen.  Thirteen is not a good age for anyone, and I was not the exception to this rule.  I was cranky.  I was ornery.  I didn’t want to admit to having a mother let alone having to ride in the car for two weeks with her.  I often wonder if babies acted like thirteen year old girls if the human race would have died out by now.  I mean seriously, if you gave birth to a sulking, hormonal teenager would you actually do it again?  If the pushing a bowling ball out of your nostril wasn’t exciting enough, here’s your acne riddled bundle of anger.  It’s for the best that babies are cute and by the time they become adolescent balls of rage the parents have likely had their fill of baby raising and are now wondering if it’s illegal to sell their newly minted teenager to the Samoans.  Why Samoans?  Who knows?  It’s far away and visitation would be difficult.  Plus there’s always the chance that the child could become a world famous sumo wrestler.  And what parent doesn’t dream of that?

Anyways, we spent countless hours driving through what I now know was beautiful scenery.  However, as the angsty thirteen year old girl that I was, I was less than impressed.  I spent most of that trip reading horror novels and fantasizing that when we got to the next “no tell motel” that my teenage crush flavor of the month would be waiting to save me from the woe of cross country travel.  To no one’s surprise, I was never greeted by the smiling faces of Duran Duran waiting to whisk me away.   I was however, once greeted by a roach the size of small dachshund in one of those motels.

There is something to be said for large chain hotels.  They are generally kept to a higher standard of cleanliness.  Their beds are usually parallel to the floor and not angling as if to fling it’s inhabitants across the room for the slightest movement.  They usually don’t smell as if an unwashed 27 year old drug addict is sleeping in the closet.  And generally they don’t have roaches that could double as pets in the rooms.  I’m pretty sure that the roach of my nightmares went by the name “Fifi” and actually wore a small rhinestone encrusted collar.  But perhaps that’s all in my head.

As is the case with most tales of horror, this one happened in the shower.  I was happily – okay, that’s too much of an exaggeration even for me – I was begrudgingly taking a shower before the motel’s 10 gallon hot water tank was depleted – when I felt something scurry across my foot.  Having learned that NOTHING good ever comes from something scurrying across my naked wet feet, I glanced down with trepidation and fear in my heart.  And that’s when I saw it.  The biggest, bravest insect in the world.  Okay, it may not have been the bravest or the biggest.  But it certainly seemed that way at the time.  And it was also wet.  And fast.  Screaming ensued.  Hysteria reigned supreme and I barely escaped the insectile clutches of Fifi.  And that’s when I realized I couldn’t find her/him/it.  Telling myself I had washed it down the drain in my fit of seizure like thrashing, I got dressed and we prepared to leave.  And as I checked one last time to make sure we hadn’t left anything in the bathroom I saw one tiny roach antenna moving around in the shower drain.  Fifi was waiting.  Waiting for the next unsuspecting naked showering inhabitant.

So do yourself a favor – if you find yourself looking for a motel on the outskirts of town, and you find yourself staring at a motel sign where only three of the five letters actually still light and the “Vacancy” sign is flashing like a strobe light on acid – bring a large can of bug spray.  You’ll thank me later.

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