Ode to Coletta

Posted on Sunday 11 May 2008

She was long and sleek, but her legs were thin, almost spindly, and her eyes were too small to notice. Her body was her best trait, in all its shiny brownness.

When I first saw her, I thought she was dead. But upon closer inspection, I realized she was simply taking a rest outside my door. Too bad for her that the poison my horrible landlord had sprayed around my door is quite lethal. It’s the kind of poison that doesn’t do a Palmetto bug’s body any good. Her rest would soon be a final one, I presumed.

But still, over two days, she kept creeping closer to my door, flapping a thin bronze wing each time I approached. I became terrified that she had slurped an antidote to the poison and would thus arise with a vigor that could never be suppressed. I imagined how she would flatten herself and push her perfect body underneath my front door–poison be damned–as she screamed, “I drink it for breakfast!”

I really did not want her making a home in my home. And so, it was war.

When she inched forward as I opened the door to take my dog outside for her morning walk, I returned with a powerful spray of “Hot Shot Roach and Ant Killer, Unscented, Kills up to 12 Weeks.” Yeah, sucka, take that! She did, quite nicely, waving the other wing at me.

She flipped from front to back and back to front twice in 24 hours, as if to confuse me: “I may LOOK dead, but…bwahaha.”

I won’t lie. She kinda scared me. Because she wouldn’t DIE!

When the boy came over, and we went outside so he could smoke, she was there, watching. “Nice touch, the bug,” the boy laughed when he first noticed her. “Welcome to South Florida!”

“Oh sure, you don’t have them at your place?” I asked, so smug seemed he about the bugs.

“Are you kidding? I have so many chemicals in my front yard and under my house, nothing can live there!” he laughed.

Ha Ha Ha. Well, cute boy, welcome to my not-so-cute world!

Which was when I named her. Coletta. You know, Coletta the Cockroach? Right, I could have chosen Patsy the Palmetto Bug, but who is kidding who? She was just a giant cockroach. A giant cockroach who wouldn’t give it up and go to the light, or go wherever cockroaches go when they die.

A little friend of Coletta’s also came calling, but she was so much smaller and so easy to obliterate with quick spray of Hot Shot, it was almost laughable. Yeah, take that and that. And still Coletta twitched.

“Someone is leaving cigarette butts in the planter. Great, huh?” pointed out my neighbor as he arrived home from work the second afternoon that Coletta still camped outside my door, and I was struggling with my dog’s new harness.

“Oh, sorry!” I said, embarrassed. “The someone is a friend of mine, and I forgot to toss them out. Sorry,” I told him, semi-horrified that I was the cause of another disgusting accent on this imploding place in which we all rent.

“Oh, so they were yours? Really?” my neighbor laughed in surprise. Because my neighbor has seen me in the depths of anger and panic when our mutual landlord misbehaves. He has heard me rail against the lack of upkeep outside. This same neighbor would also fix anything, absolutely anything, in my apartment, if I but asked, just so I wouldn’t have to contact my landlord. I may be unlucky in landlords, but I am lucky in neighbors.

“Yeah, sorry,” I repeated.

“No problem.”

“So, do you like my pet bug?” I asked my neighbor, nodding to Coletta’s still form on the pavement in front of my door. “She won’t die, so I have named her Coletta.”

“Oh, I think she is pretty dead, name or not,” said my neighbor.

As I regarded Coletta, I realized she hadn’t moved much, if at all, today. Which, in my mind, did not make her dead. It made her a great actress.

“Um, I am not so sure…”

“Oh, no. She is dead. Dead and gone. So dead,” he laughed.

Hmm. Okay. Good.

“I am gone for the weekend,” he said. “Going up north to see my mom. If I don’t see you before Sunday, happy Mother’s Day, okay? If I recall, you have a couple of grown kids, right?”

I regarded this nice neighbor. What a neighborly, nice thing to say.

“Thank you,” I told him. “I have to work, but, oh well,” I smiled.

“Then a good day at work to you,” he said, and we parted ways, he into his apartment and me to walk the dog.

When I returned home a half hour later, Coletta was gone. In the spot where she had lain for multiple days was a taped-down cross cut out of notebook paper. “Rest in Peace,” was scrawled across the top.

I laughed. And laughed and laughed. And then I snapped a photo of the headstone.

Off you go to cockroach hell, Coletta. Thank you, neighbor, whom I now know has a pretty good sense of humor.

Too funny.

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14 Comments for 'Ode to Coletta'

  1.  
    heather
    May 11, 2008 | 4:01 pm
     

    Wow. I really do like reading your blog. You mostly have a positive outlook on life. What I couldn’t understand is why you let that innocent little bug suffer for days like that. How insensitive and inhumane. You could have stepped on her or squished her with a broom. Sorry, but I can’t stand the fact of something suffering even a cockroach. (I am a true lover of life ๐Ÿ™‚

  2.  
    Laurie
    May 11, 2008 | 11:31 pm
     

    Hey gal… I love your stories and I’ve been reading for a while now. I can sense your conflict between going back to DC or staying in FL. I don’t know you (although sometimes I feel I do from reading your blog so often). This is definitely not my place to say, but a few posts ago you seemed like you’d made your mind to move back to DC, then you meet some “boy” and decide maybe not. I don’t know but it just seems to me that you are being very selfish and using Mr. RestaurantGal as a safety net and that it is very wrong and unfair. I understand you love each other, but sometimes love can change over the years and become a different type of love. Maybe that should be considered. I know that if I truly loved someone, I would want to try to work it out and not be swayed by random charming strangers. The truth is I don’t think people can go let each other date other people that way while still married and just put it back together. He will always wonder what you did, you will always wonder what he did. I think it will be a strain and whatever was wrong before will come back or be even worse.

    Like I said, I don’t know you or Mr’ Restaurant gal, but it just seems like it’s time to make a real decision so you can both get on with your lives. I’m sorry if my opinions upset you. I really hope that things work out for the best for everyone involved in the situation. Letting go is always hard, but sometimes heaving yourself back up is even harder.

    Take care.

  3.  
    Alice
    May 12, 2008 | 1:34 am
     

    I believe I have stepped back through my looking glass. Heather and Laurie, your comments make me think I am in the same blog, only everything is backwards.

    RG writes for her own enjoyment as well as ours. If you don’t enjoy it, please don’t bother to tell her or the rest of us.

    These stories are a look into her life, not her life. Your attempts to judge that life are about as valid as what I saw on the other side of my looking glass.

  4.  
    Laurie
    May 12, 2008 | 9:43 am
     

    So what gives YOU a right to judge us Alice? Hypocritical much? If RG didn’t want our comments, she wouldn’t allow comments to be posted. Yes, it is her life and I stated repeatedly that I don’t really know the situation or the people involved.

    Through my readship of this blog, I feel in a sense that I have come to know RG in a small way and I do not believe she is the type of person that wants her readers to always just pat her on the back and cheer no matter what. Yes, I posted my true opinion and not in a way meant to hurt or insult, but maybe in a way to help. Everyone needs a kick in the arse now and then, especially in this “I’m okay, you’re okay” society where noone is EVER allowed to question anything anyone else does.

    Anyway, I’m not telling anyone what to do. I’m just saying what is going on here seems very very wrong. If my spouse ever decided to do what is happening here, not only would I be tremedously hurt and angry, but the ink would have been dry on the papers long ago.

  5.  
    Alice
    May 12, 2008 | 10:31 am
     

    Laurie, I don’t want to debate this and perhaps my wee hours comment was sharper than it needed to be. I have problems with your comments as well as those of many others here and at other sites I visit.

    RG has shared with a little individual slivers of her life. From those slivers we extrapolate a whole picture of her life — and then comment publicly on the picture we have drawn. It is a fun exercise. But it is only an exercise and our conclusions are only as valid as the information we have added to the picture.

    Your last words make it clear that you have filled in the picture you have drawn with your own experiences. That’s the huge problem with this whole exercise; neither you nor I are either RG or her loved ones and therefore have no idea what is right or wrong for them.

    I did not make a judgment about you. I expressed an opinion that your comment was flawed. There is a huge difference. You, on the other hand, have judged RG. Reread both your comments. They are full of qualitative statements of right and wrong.

    Express your opinion. Please do not judge. It is not fair.

  6.  
    Restaurant Gal
    May 12, 2008 | 8:15 pm
     

    There are days when I come out of my serious musings, and I am captivated by something I find a little funny, so I write about it. And suddenly I am judged to be a person who likes to watch livings things suffer and a slut whose husband should long ago have divorced me.

    Makes me wonder if it’s time to keep my writing more private, more to myself. On the other hand, this is great stuff for my screenplay–I’ll write my harshest critics in as the characters who appear here–verbatim.

    Thanks for the dialogue!

  7.  
    Laurie
    May 12, 2008 | 8:31 pm
     

    That was my opinion. I’m sorry. I forgot that we live in a society where everyone should constantly praise what others do and never criticize. My opinion is that it’s not fair to hang onto another person and yet be playing the field. If that’s what someone wants then they shouldn’t be married because marriage is committment to one person!

    And I never said anything about being a slut. Don’t go all emo and put words I didn’t say in my mouth. I do think it is selfish to keep someone emotionally and legally bound to you while you figure out what you want. If MR. RG is okay with that then that’s his choice, but in the back of my mind I do feel bad for him.

  8.  
    Heather
    May 13, 2008 | 2:13 am
     

    I truly didn’t mean to hurt anyones feelings. I wasn’t taking a jab at anyone. I really do enjoy reading your blog. I just get a bad feeling in my stomach when I hear of any animal suffering. It’s just one of my things. I can’t stay quiet about it. Trust me, I get on all of my friends nerves too ๐Ÿ™‚ So, sorry RG gal if I hurt your feelings. I think you are great.

  9.  
    Laurie
    May 13, 2008 | 9:32 am
     

    I didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings either. I’ve been reading for a long time, and as I previously stated I love the writing. What RG doesn’t isn’t our business, but it is, sort of, because I think many us are trying to simply understand. The leaving of mr. RG was sort of shrouded in mystery for a long time, then bits came out little by little, even as some of the long time reader probably “guessed” something was different. Then the whole dating other people things crept in.

    There was a post about “trying again” with mr. RG about a week ago, that mysteriously seemed to have vanished. I’m not sure what happened. So okay, at that point I am happy that true love is going to “win” out. Then suddenly, days later, all these posts about metting some new guy in a fabulous fairy tale setting start appearing… like history and plans were all erased.

    And I WANT to be sucked up in the utter romance of it all… because it is sort of romantic…. and RG’s writing is very good that it is easy to get caught up in it… but somehow always at the corner of my mind is “what about Mr. RG?” and “Is this how married people should behave”. You guys say I put “judgements” on someone… well apparently I’m not the only one that has the same crazy idea about marriage. Why else would there be laws and churches outlining the standards for such a union?

    RG, I do love your blog and I hope you never stop writing. I don’t comment very much, but I do have to say I have lost some respect for you. You have always seemed to be a very strong and courageous woman, but I was surprised that your seemingly set plans to go try again were so easily overturned when another handsome prospect walked into your life.

    I’m not saying you should give Mr RG another chance. You married him, but sometimes people change and sometimes people make mistakes. I’m not saying people should trap themselves in an unhappy situation. I’m sure you had a good reason for doing what you did and not just to re-live the college years again. But it is l;ike you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. It just seems wrong and unfair and not like something the RG I thought I knew through years of reading would do. But, then I don’t know you.

    I want to be happy for you WHEN you meet a handsome prince. I really really do because that last bit about the wedding and the mystery man read almost out of a romance novel and who doesn’t love a happy ending?? But somehow, I can’t do that because you’re married already!

    I am really sorry that I posted my own opinions here. I forgot that comment sections of blogs are reserved for validation and not what people think or even caring advice if the poster is told something they don’t want to hear. The defensiveness at even my very mild first comment says more than I can ever say so this will be my last comment although I will keep reading and hope things turn out well in the end.

    RG, I hope you find what you are looking for and have a good life.

  10.  
    Jessie
    May 13, 2008 | 10:19 am
     

    I think it’s easy for internet commenters to forget this is someone’s real life, not a fairy tale. There are real life decisions and things don’t always turn out like they do in the movies.

  11.  
    John
    May 13, 2008 | 1:00 pm
     

    Laurie, you go right on being passive aggressive with the comments thing. How’s that working out for you?
    But first try to find out where anyone said you have to be validating.
    You don’t seem to be able to draw the line between your life and RG’s, so maybe that’s a fertile area for you to look into: Just because YOU want a fairy-tale ending doesn’t mean you have the right to excoriate RG for not living her life the way you wish you could live yours.

    And you did exactly want to hurt RG’s feelings when you first posted: that is exactly and only what your post was about, so don’t give us this cry-baby nonsense. If you are going to attack someone, do it openly. What you did is called bullying in school.

  12.  
    Paul
    May 13, 2008 | 4:08 pm
     

    Heather, I too am traumatized by any creature suffering. The thought of those poor escherichia coli bacteria living in my gut, going about their happy lives processing my waste, only to be unceremoniously flushed a few days after they split off of their mother… I make sure I take MASSIVE amounts of laxatives daily to keep their suffering to an absolute minimum.

  13.  
    H-Bomb
    May 13, 2008 | 6:01 pm
     

    wow. You are a bunch of babies. Get over yourselves.

  14.  
    June 5, 2008 | 5:59 pm
     

    Hilarious. F’ing fabulous Gal. On the other hand, these comments have really turned into a shitfling. Sorry RG, but keep it up. My sides ache.

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