Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Ultimate Trust Test

Everyone likes to talk about that test where someone stands behind you and then you let yourself fall back into their arms.

Will they catch you? Many a funny television bit has been based on this little test.

I've got a better one.

Say that your loved one, with his eagle ears trained by a lifetime in Texas, discerns that there could be a cockroach coming out of the air-vent that is right over your head when you are sleeping.

(Yes, this is partly a horror story. Those are the best tests of trust.)

He could only tell this by flipping the light on and off repeatedly looking for intruders as you were trying to sleep.

In brave, manly fashion, he does not reveal this until you irritatedly ask him what's going on, because he is so focused on your safety that he is straining every sense for danger. No time to talk. Must listen.

Once the danger is revealed and you have moved in one second flat across the room, wrapped in a blanket, he can act.

Cautiously, carefully, he sprays inside the vent with roach spray, springing back in readiness, the better to battle the danger. Together, you wait.

Nothing happens.

Cautiously, warning you to listen for possible encroachment, you both return to bed.

Five minutes later, when you have shrieked, "I hear it!" and bolted across the room in a blanket, your hero turns on the lights to see, emerging from the darkness, a gigantic cockroach.

Your head would have been right under it!

The danger. The horror.

"Ugh" cannot express it, but it will have to do for now.

He battles the foe in practiced style. The hounds leap about, seeking their share of the prey.

Safety plans are discussed. Sleeping on the couch. Sleeping in the guest room. All unsatisfactory. The ultimate plan, moving the bed across the room where there is no vent, is long-term and awaits the coming dawn. (Platform beds put the strongest hero's muscles to shame in the middle of the night.)

A hasty but reliable battle plan is developed. Tape the vent with packing tape.

You begin to wish that your favorite movie was not Aliens and this incident were not so reminiscent of the many plans to hold back the vile forms lurking in the darkness. The horror has taken hold in your soul. A cockroach could drop on your head while you are asleep.

Once again, less composed than usual for sleep, lights out, there is a rustle above. Your hero has heard it too and tells you that the heater is bound to cause some expansion of tape, but it is tight. No need to worry, he tells you, it's ok.

So, here it is. The moment of trust. One which you will relive throughout the night as you awake repeatedly, hearing a slight rustle overhead.

"It's the heater," you will think. "Or has something slipped through the perimeter?"

And then, it comes down to the final thought. "Do I trust what my hero did for my safety?"

Yes. Yes you do.

And you fall asleep again. Without turning on the lights to double-check his work. Without elbowing him awake to ask again if he taped it really tight.

You sleep. In safety. In trust.


  1. Franz Kafka as realized by our Texas! Whoop!

    Perhaps the University of Texas variant is that one morning Gregor Samson woke up to discover that he had been turned into a giant cup of herbal tea.

  2. I'm sorry. I laughed until I snorted. And sometimes I'm glad that our winters kill just about every unhatched creepy and crawly.

    1. I laughed while I was writing so it's nice to know I'm not alone ... laughing to myself in the dark, listening for cockroaches ... :-D

  3. The Texas A & M variant is that one morning Gregor Samson woke up to discover that he had been turned into a giant hissing cockroach who had to stand up all the time and then spent his day inventing yet another Ye Olde Aggie Tradition.

  4. Reminds me of the "Bloom Country" where Opus confronts that night's monster in the closet, finds out it's only a spider on the ceiling, and heads back to bed unimpressed. The punchline (don't read unless you've already moved your bed): "Guess who sleeps with his mouth open."