Regarding Ricky

I walked to my car after work one recent day, and opened the passenger’s side door to put my computer bag in the seat, when I saw something that made me freeze in place. My breath caught in my throat, my eyes were fixed on the floorboard, and I think my heart may have momentarily ceased beating.
I was not alone in this fear. There, unmoving on the floorboard carpet, was a roach. Like me, he seemed frozen, unsure if moving would lead to escape or death. Then suddenly, he ran toward the front of the car and disappeared beneath the dashboard.
I liked it better when I could see him.
I cautiously climbed in the front seat and started the car, all the while looking for any sign of his ugly antennae. Driving, I barely concentrated on the road, afraid any second I’d feel his prickly legs on my sandaled foot, and accidentally slam the gas pedal and drive into a tree.
I can’t explain why roaches scare me. I know they shouldn’t. They don’t really bite or sting or hurt me in any way – but there it is. The fear.
On several occassions in the following days, this same roach (I assume) appeared on my passenger side floorboard, always scurrying under the dash before I could squash him. Each time, I’d feel the fear rising again.
Finally, I had to accept that I might never kill this roach, and he might be with me for a while. Rather than be afraid everytime I opened the car door, I needed a new tactic. If I couldn’t kill him, I would befriend him. Make him my pet. So the roach became Ricky.
It’s harder to be scared of a little bug named Ricky. Especially when you think up ridiculous scenarios about his life. Lee and I decided Ricky was the sort of roach who wore hawaiin shirts and surfed during the day, then played games on his Playstation all night with the fellas. Hardly anything to fear. Who could be afraid of this?:
It’s a photo of Ricky on the beach, with my car in the background (sometimes he takes it for joy rides). He’s harmless. So now, as I drive down the road, if I feel the tickle of roach legs, I’ll try to think of this picture.
I’ll still probably slam my car into a tree, but maybe not. Maybe I’ll be strong.