The privileged, elite, well-to-do, or even middle class may not be able to relate to this entry ...
I grew up in immense poverty and there are no greater symbols of poverty than food stamps, government cheese and roaches... all three have been in my life at some point -- food stamps (now I see the card, which is probably a lil' less shameful than those huge, colorful stamps that were OBVIOUSLY not money -- at least you can use the card at an angle and hopefully the person behind you won't think you are a lazy, shiftless welfare recipient) and government cheese are no longer around, but roaches aren't going anywhere! Roaches are simply part of the urban poor community.
It was the 9th grade, I was in my first period music class and a stream of roaches crawled out of somebody's book bag. The entire class of thugged out boys and gangsta' girls SCREAMED, ran to the corner of the classroom like there was an axe murderer in our room. Don't ask me why we screamed...we all had roaches at home and there were several roaches at school, but just seeing those grimy insects crawling around on the floor was too much for our ninth grade spirits.
There was one girl ... she had an atrocious perm and always wore Christian conservative clothing that her mother would force on her, however, by the time she made it to first period her skirt was hiked up and three layers of clothing stuffed in her bag. She was drenched in hot coochie red and blue make-up, looking like a heat-seeking tramp with her ass cheeks out and bosoms jiggling -- of course if I saw this now I would be mortified and probably pull her to the side demanding counseling, but as a young 14 year-old gay boy she was the saucy minx at our school and the closest thing to a drag queen -- so, I loved her!
Anyway, I will never forget when she said she had so many roaches at home that she had to shake the roaches out of her panties each and every single morning. All I could see were little roaches clinging to dear life on her panties as they feel back into the drawer with their vile insects bodies gripping to another undergarment. I never looked at her panties the same way again, especially considering the whole class could get a peak once or twice a day with her trashy clothing!
I remember when my favorite cousin used to take a shower over my grandfather's house and she would always bring a pair of flip-flops with her to bathroom. One time I asked why she always brought flip-flops -- she said when the water released from the faucet roaches would storm the tub and scurry around her feet... I never took a shower there.
The most legendary roach memory I have is when I was about 15 and my father dropped me off at the neighbor's house for a barbecue. I was starving and in the heavy mood for some potato salad, ribs, mac and cheese and everything else on the "die by the time your 50" soul food diet.
The minute I got there everybody told me to go in the kitchen and get something to eat. I looked into the kitchen from the backyard and saw plates, bowls, and aluminum pans all filled with food and I'm like, "Hot damn!" With "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder blasting through the house (whenever I hear that song I think of this story), I made my way to the kitchen ... and what I saw nearly made me vomit on myself.
There were a tsunami of roaches colonizing the entire kitchen! On the tables, on the floor, on the walls - there were so many damn roaches on the ceiling that they were falling to the floor! I couldn't comprehend why they just didn't leave the food outside ... was I the only one who saw these roaches? Somebody dashed by me, scooped up a plate of food, shook a roach off her hand and dashed back out -- Oh, hell no!
Anyone that has been to a black family barbecue knows that if you don't EAT it is highly disrespectful ... but in my teenage mind I had to take a revolutionary stand and NOT eat at the barbecue. I called my father and begged him to pick me up -- he took hours to get there while everyone at the barbecue stared at me like I was a spoiled brat because I was so "shooken" by the roaches. When my father finally arrived he proceeded to cuss me the hell out - but I didn't care! I just knew one of those roaches were baked into the mac and cheese and I was not going to be eating it!
Nowadays, especially in New York City, you have roaches in high-rise, expensive buildings ... however, being that I've been socialized and raised with them damn ghetto bugs you will NOT see roaches in my apartment. I still LIVE like I have roaches ... I still rinse off all dishware before using it, when I throw little scraps of food in the garbage I wrap it in a plastic bag first, I take out my garbage once maybe twice a day, I NEVER leave food sitting on the stove, I wash my dishes immediately ... the list goes on. Roaches are a part of the poor urban community, but that is one thing I don't miss.