Be Glad I Didn’t Post Pictures.

It was ninth grade (grade nine, Canadians).  I was a member of the volleyball team at my local junior high school in Mesa, Arizona.  As freshmen at junior high, we were at the top of the social ladder, though I was by no means one of the most popular kids.  I was on student council, played in the band, and participated in lots of sports, but I wasn’t passionate about any of my extracurricular nonsense…not really.

But now I’ve gotten ahead of myself.  The setting of this sordid tale is the junior high school gym, mid-July, a few weeks before classes started.  The volleyball team was required to meet early to begin practising, since game season commenced right along with classes.

That summer, the school had miraculously received extra funding and decided to put it towards refinishing the hardwood floor in our gym.  The smell was horrific–all those chemicals laid to rest on a floor of a building that had zero air circulation and a paltry excuse for a cooling system.  In the summer heat, it smelled like the principal was attempting to bake some sort of nuclear missile, but our coach swore it was nothing lethal, and we went on to practise in the gym that week despite the offensive stench.

Now, Mesa is a city that thrives on heat.  People embrace the desert lifestyle, removing grass in their front yards and instead planting cacti and millions of tiny pebbles, so they don’t have to mow the lawn during the summer.  It is hot, hot, hot, and mid-July, the heat is reaching its peak.  The only non-human (read: non-air conditioned) creatures that can survive are well-adapted desert animals like geckos and cactus wren and scorpions…and cockroaches, which can live through anything as long as it’s warm enough.

Our gym had always been a giant playboy mansion for said roaches, but when we saw them, they were usually dead on their backs, having killed themselves from straining too hard to squeeze through the drain covers and into the ladies’ locker room [little perverts].  Rarely did we encounter live ones, and if we did, our screaming scared them away as naturally as a Colt .44 does a common criminal.

That year, however, the cockroaches fed off the nuclear chemicals in our junior high gym.  Instead of the stench killing them off like it practically did to us humans (albeit teenage girls), it actually made them…well…stronger.  They had the ability to survive the fumes, and their new found super strength made them even mightier.  They worked out, training in an underground weight room of their own, plotting for the day that they could overtake our school and eventually…the world.  They had morphed into creatures of power, no longer afraid of our silly screams, or even the bright lights of the gymnasium, for that matter.  They were brave.

On the first day of practise, when our coach realised the unusually high number of roaches in our gym, she mildly warned us of the danger…that the roaches were out in droves greater than usual this year, but we should not panic.  They would be gone soon, the principal had promised.  So downplayed was the extent of the problem, we girls thought nothing of it.  The next day at practise, we all brought our duffel bags into the gym, sat down to change from street shoes to volleyball shoes, and went on our merry ways.

At the end of practise that day, as we waited for our coach to unlock the ladies’ changing room, a scream erupted from the group of us.  I, having not seen the terror-inducing miscreant, nevertheless screamed along with my teammates.  If they were scared, I was scared.

But then I realised they were backing away…and screaming…at me.

I knew.  With no further investigation, I knew the cockroaches had gotten me.  In an instant, I saw the scene play out in my head: While I was practising my bumps, sets and spikes minutes before, my duffel bag had fallen from the table with the other girls’ bags, and landed unceremoniously on the floor of the gym.  The roaches swooped in for the kill, hiding in the folds and pockets of my bag, waiting for the great moment of their power to come forth.

It was then, standing outside the locker room door, that I saw death. Running in maniacal circles, I swatted, flailed, screamed, yelped, gagged, clawed, and very nearly cried, in an attempt to save myself.  A dear friend finally came to my aid, which was noble indeed, because…well, isn’t it obvious. The plan of the mega-morphed roaches was foiled, and we watched as they scurried away from the group of crazies, but I still couldn’t sleep that night.

Black and shiny, with giant antennae and wings (yes, wings), they’d flown and swooped and creepity-crawled all over my body.  I’ve never been the same since that day. Luckily, I was given a fair amount of pity, and though the other girls were surely disgusted with my plight, at least I didn’t have to live out my days at school being known as “Cockroach Girl” or something else ridiculously painful for my 13 year-old ego.

The Cockroach Incident of the year 2000 is partially to credit for my marrying Poor Kyle–he has never seen one in real life; they don’t live here in Alberta, Canada–too cold or something.  Anywhere the roaches won’t live, I most surely will.

Thank you, Poor Kyle, for saving my life.

Now who feels itchy?

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in Canada, fiascos, looking back, oh brother what next. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Be Glad I Didn’t Post Pictures.

  1. niki says:

    itchy, to say the least. i loathe roaches! they are super creepy. in fact, the most creepy of all insects! i’m so sorry for your damaging episode. i would be forever changed as well.

  2. bRAD says:

    Cockroaches are the least rad thing ever.

  3. Kimberly says:

    If I get nightmares tonight, you’re to blame.

  4. HeatherPride says:

    Really? No roaches in Canada? Who knew??

    Poor Kyle, that’s who. Nice move for you then, huh!

  5. Kristy says:

    I have not seen a cockroach before but I sure get freaked out by spiders. If there is a place where spiders don’t exist please tell me cause I will be on the next plane there! (very tempted to move to antarctica)

  6. Lauren says:

    I only had one requirement when looking for an apartment…no roaches. Nothing scares me more than roaches. I literally cringed while reading this. How can you still be alive?

  7. Anonymous says:


    No wonder you were in such distress during Girls’ Camp last summer when the fly flew in your ear. I understand your aversion to bugs a little better now. I bet it all started with this incident…? Or not? There’s my Thursday question for you.

  8. Jami says:

    CAMILLE! BEST POST EVER! Seriously! That was AMAZING! I too hate roachs with a passion. I will write about it on my blog won’t be nearly as entertaining, but I will try and get my point across!
    AND, I might be moving to Canada now that I know there are no roaches there. I can’t belive that PK has NEVER seen one…NEVER??? Tell him to walk down the street in summer (in mesa of course).

  9. Whitney says:

    OUr house was vacant for like 6 months before we moved in and whoever was in charge of cleaning out the house did not do a good job at all. So, Zach thinking he could take his new fiance to see the house we would be living in without checking it out before hand was surprised of my reaction when we entered the house and all I could do was scream and jump on his back. I assured him I would never live in this house if the roaches werent ALL gone before the day of our wedding.The house was infested. it was horrific. Roaches and I we dont mix. I completely agree with your post. And I too am moving to Canada.

  10. Holly Decker says:

    i am gunna have nightmares now… thanks- alot.
    i am STILL shuddering from this horrific story.
    ew ew ew.

    thank goodness for poor kyle.
    that reason alone may be a great reason to marry someone. or at least move.

    hm… Canada is sounding really good to me about now…

    speaking of people who have never seen roaches… one time i was teaching primary in our SUPER RICH ward, and i was telling the kids a cockroach story… and they all looked really puzzled. then it occured to me- these kids have really nice houses, that probably have BUILT IN roach protectant… and they have never seen one before. and sure enough, it was true.

    *sigh* i however, will forever live with my fear of roaches.

  11. RatalieNose says:


  12. anonymous says:

    blech! insects sure have an affinity for you don’t they:) he’s never seen a roach huh? lucky goose..

  13. Camille says:

    I’m confused why you switched blog addresses? Is this one free too??

  14. Oh yes, I remember this day… Those terrible devils.

    And we do have some of those dirty things in my house! I find them dead, luckily, and Tanner disposes of them for me. But yuck, still.

  15. anonymous says:

    i love the new colors!

  16. niki says:

    so glad to see that your web page is looking more like YOU!! i was getting anxious there, for a minute.

    wayne leavitt is your uncle?? what a small world! he is the director of the Easter Pageant, which, if we get accepted this year, will make 5 years in a row for my hubs and 4 years in a row for me:) he also does work with my boss, so i see him every now and again down at our office. pretty sure he has no idea who i am tho.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ditto to the above. Thanks for the new layout. Could you make the font a bit bigger? It’s still a little small and hard to read.

  18. anonymous says:

    Great post. I was on pins and needles.

Comments are closed.