It was completely my fault, like most things really I guess. I was careless and probably even a little arrogant and because of that I was headed for a fall. Not the farthest fall I’ve taken, but a fall nonetheless. (I just found out that nonetheless is one word, learn something new everyday y’all!)
A seemingly typical morning commute was about to turn into a trial and test that would take all of my mental, emotional, and physical strength to remain clean. I was zipping along the interstate with my music and had my mind on my prayers, usually patience and perseverance, always focus so that I could complete the multitude of tasks that lay ahead of me at the office.
I started that Monday with my usual workout in the gym, a workout that is designed to keep an aging body strong and healthy and also designed to wear out an overactive and energetic mind. This particular session I decided to cut down the rest time between exercises and I was really feeling it. The two cups of coffee I usually enjoy at home while getting ready was just not going to get me through this day.
A creature of habit I tend to have some rituals to help me through the day, I have a particular cup that I like to drink from while doing my pre-gym bible study and my post gym preparation work. It’s an insulated stainless steel job with a plastic handle. That handle provides me with the surety of grip and the extra security from I need in my heart during my half asleep bible reading (sorry God, I swear I’m always awake by the end) and my rushing around work preparation.
On days when I need it (so far every day) I’ll have a third cup on my drive in to work. I’m usually not finished with my second cup so at this point I call in my backup cup. The backup cup is a tall and sleek stainless steel vessel that can keep my third cup hot most of the day, and it has a nice little plastic top that keeps me from spilling as I weave in and around the freeway, trying to survive Austin rush hour traffic.
This fateful day, after overdoing my workout, would require cup number three (O.k. workout or no, I require cup number three.) So before leaving for work I pulled the lid from my trusty backup and poured in the steaming hot elixir of life. By some minor miracle the mug filled to the top when I thought there was only about half a cup left in the mug. I shrugged it off never to look a gift horse in the mouth (or gift pot in the cup?) I grabbed the handle of my main cup leaving two fingers and a thumb free to hold the backup at the base, got my keys ready in my left hand, left and locked my apartment, got to my car, and was off.
The last of the second cup went down quickly as I zoomed past cars and pondered ponderings of life and I was transitioning to the my backup third cup. The shiney stainless steel was cool to the touch, sharp contrast to the contents which would still be steamy.
My first drink brought some surprise as the coffee was hot… but no as hot as it should be. This minor mystery was connected to the minor miracle of the full cup, but I would only deduce that later.
I don’t normally finish cup number three before getting to work, I usually have about half a cup left to finish throughout the day. Like I said though, this day was extra (can a 47 old use that term?) so I was gulping the coffee like it was oxygen after a sprint. The trouble came with the last couple gulps…
You might be thinking that because of the OCD habits I mentioned earlier that I am also a neat freak. Your thinking in this case would be wrong, because my OCD comes out in organization systems and patterns, but not a cleanliness. One of the strongest bits of evidence of this OCD omission is my treatment of my coffee cups. I believe that a vessel that on a daily basis receives boiling hot liquid get sanitized regularly by said liquid and therefore requires no cleaning.
I have always been the opposite of a germaphobe anyway and have been known to break the 5 second rule by surpluses of 10 to 65 seconds depending on what I dropped (and sometimes where, I mean, I’m not gonna eat a donut that I dropped on a wet mens’ room floor at the bus stop… unless it had sprinkles.) Therefore this morning, like every other, my main cup and my backup cup had not been washed the night before and sat in their own filth all night on my counter waiting to be cleansed in the fiery baptism of the dark, life bringing liquid. What I didn’t know, but was about to find out, is that this particular morning, something else received baptism.
Each gulp I gulped was bringing me closer to the fate that I deserved for my cavalier non-coffee-cup-cleaning attitude. Making sure my lane was clear first I began tipping the backup mug farther and farther back for each drink until finally…
(if you have a week stomach skip ahead about 6 paragraphs but you’re going to miss some amazing imagery and alliteration and an actual Shakespeare reference!)
My eyes bulged, a lump, a sort of fuzzy yet prickly lump went to the back of my throat. Because the little slit I was drinking from was too small to spit it all back into; it was with herculean effort and determination that I closed my throat and swallowed that lump. My hopes were that this lump was somehow congealed Almond Milk (because my body is a temple) creamer substitute. My brain told me that Almond Milk doesn’t congeal at the same time that my stomach told me that I’d better figure it out because it was about to send it all back up.
At this point I felt something else in my mouth, likely a portion of the lump, the hairy, maybe wiggly lump. The lump had left something behind. By doing the pbth pbth thing with my tongue (this thing was stringy and not going down now matter what) I was able to get the stringy thing to my lips and grab it and look at it. My stomach already knew what my brain was trying to grasp as the message from my eyes settled in.
Antenna… only one… antenna
Brain flashed back to my invertebrate zoology class from college and reassured stomach with the information that, based on the size of the antenna, it was only a small roach I had just swallowed. However Stomach remembered when Abbess said, “Unquiet meals make ill digestions,” and responded as expected. I felt the roach, coffee, my breakfast, and possibly my toenails all trying to come back up.
My stomach heaved but held.
I’m not really bragging here but if you remember from earlier posts I have leather interior in my car… I really didn’t want to puke all over my leather. My stomach didn’t care so much about the leather as it did the thought of that roach sliding down my throat with its prickly legs kicking their way down.
Another heave, another hold
Everything from my teeth to my tummy was in turmoil as my body battle to rid itself of the unwelcome roach. I was sweating from not only nausea but also the effort to keep from spraying my rich leather seats with the contents of every meal I’d eaten in the last week. I tried not to think of the creepy crawly critter escaping my esophagus, I tried not to think of the stringy antenna I just had to spit into my hand, I tried to get to my happy place. My efforts wavered, I remembered, “My seats are sort of coffee colored anyway right? What’s a little puke?” Then I also remembered that my seats are heated and cooled, which means they have little pores for the air to blow through to the backside. I really didn’t want those pore filled with barf.
I took control. I focused. I swallowed hard and I told myself that it was just a bug, I’d eaten bugs before in the Army, grubs even, and this was no different. In total defiance of my digestive systems rejection of the bug I gritted my teeth, squinted my eyes and I swallowed one last time. I overcame the urge to urp up the roach and the curtain on this comedy of errors was drawn, and the roach was destined for digestion.
What I realized had happened was that I must have left some coffee in the cup from the night before, and the sweet creamy contents were too much for a little cockroach to resist. He (or maybe she, I hope she didn’t have eggs…) must crawled in through the little drinking slit and then couldn’t get out. One thing I know is if it died, it died wide awake.
Welcome back those of you who skipped ahead, and thanks for sticking with me you brave soles with strong stomachs. Now that roach was really hard to swallow and hard to keep down, but sometimes the truth is even harder to swallow. Last Sunday in church was a really uncomfortable lesson; one on divorce and the detriments of the patriarchal society. The lesson looked at what Jesus said about divorce and looked at divorce through the lense of a man setting aside his wife because she wasn’t making him happy, as if a woman’s whole purpose in life was to please a man.
With five older sisters and a daughter of my own I am completely outraged by this concept, but the prickly and wiggly truth that I have to swallow is that my actions have not always shown this outrage. My actions have often shown that somewhere in my core… I agree. Or at least I used to. I used to place my happiness in women, my identity in having a great girlfriend or wife, and my worth. The hairy and ill digestible truth is that I’ve been guilty of objectifying women and reducing them to physical confirmation of my manhood in order to sooth my own insecurities and shortcomings.
This truth wrenched my stomach far worse than that little cockroach. I sat there in church feeling nauseous and shameful. But then came the words, “you are no longer bound to your past, you are not what you have done, and you are brand new.” Now rather than spewing from my mouth I was spewing from my eyes, once again the message of God’s great love.
I’m so blessed to belong to a church where we hit the uncomfortable topics in a safe space. I don’t want to stay comfortable in my faith, I want a shake up and a reminder of what my goal and my path needs to be. On Sunday I was given strong conviction, tempered with a reminder of the Grace that was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ and I was shaken out of complacency (ok I wasn’t really that complacent because I am never going to be that man again) and placed back on my path.
The truth will set us free, even when it goes down like a stow-a-way roach, it will set us free. Even when the truth makes us sweat and squirm it will set us free. The truth that I have fallen short, that I will always fall short is painful, but the truth that He has forgiven me sets me free.
We need both truths though, to rebound back to our path and grow to what we are meant to be. As in Ephesians 4:15
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
And these truths are much better for me than a water logged roach, although I’ve read that they have zero cholesterol…
6 thoughts on “Is Something Bugging You?”
Funny, disgusting, and biblical all at the same time! I love your writing style. It actually made me laugh today!
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Thanks, God gave me a sense of humor, I might as well use it to spread His message right?
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Did you know that many people actually eat bugs and they are good protein. Some believe that is the answer to ecological issues coming from people raising and eating animals -especially from those concentrated animal feeding operations. Not me – vegan means no bugs either…
Anyways cool story and great way to pull in the God and life lesson along with the roach… I wasn’t sure how you were going to do it, but you did!!
Yes I actually have a friend here in Austin who works for a company that raises grasshoppers to freeze dry into a protein powder or flour to make bread.
One thing I know is if it died, it died wide awake.
Instant classic line.
(Yes, I liked the serious stuff too).
Oh yes, just like life, we take the serious and funny together. When I realized I ate that big that was my first thought and it reminded me of Bill Murray on caddy shack…
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