Elizabeth Chennamchetty
Life Happens. Sometimes you just have to write about it.

“Excuse me, there is a roly poly on your shoulder.” A woman says to me at the YMCA, as I try to transfer my family membership to the branch we frequent most often. I’ve been trying to transfer this membership for the past three weeks, my kids are getting kind of impatient with the process. All three are sitting on the floor between me and the counter, one is laying down, moaning as if sitting on an acid soaked towel. I’ll get back to that…

It’s interesting to me how some things get less gross.

Like messy poop or projectile vomit for instance.

Things change.

You start having children.

Those first few diapers you change as a new parent are gross, gag-able even. But then you look back on the past seven years (seven because for some inexplicable reason you keep having children back to back) of extraordinary poop scenarios and you shrug poop off. There isn’t much that can get you … although that poop-filled-wetsuit-shake almost did…

I think another good example is when my son got a lizard. His bearded dragon, Amanda, has grown to be quite a big lizard. She started off eating little worms when she was just a few months old, then moved her way up to crickets, and now gobbles cockroaches, pretty big cockroaches actually. Before Amanda, I wouldn’t have liked to see any insect roaming any part of my home. But now, I have a little plastic bin labeled “lizard food” sitting on my sons desk, next to Amanda’s cage, filled with cockroaches. I buy them in bulk, feed them organic lettuce, and go back to Pet Kingdom for more when we run out. My husband and I have even had a discussion about breeding our own to cut down on the expense (they are actually expensive when you want them on purpose) and to keep them healthy (what you feed them, Amanda benefits from). I know, I know! Insane!

Every afternoon we count out how many cockroaches Amanda needs and place them right side up in her cage. An upside-down cockroach just lays there frozen. She likes them moving so she can give chase and enjoy the satisfaction of the crunchy, hard-shelled carnage. I’ve become completely desensitized.

So, when the lady at the YMCA approached me, kids moaning by my feet, wanting to be anywhere and do anything other than cooperate, I didn’t really hear her at first.

“Excuse me.” the petite lady approaches from behind, saying something I don’t quite hear.

“What?” I turn realizing she’s talking to me and I didn’t understand what she said.

“Um, you have a roly poly on your shoulder,” she repeats to me.

“What? I have a…” I look down as she reaches toward my shoulder.

“A bug … a roly poly … you have a giant …” She grabs the bug between her two fingers. “It’s a …” she doesn’t finish, her eyes slightly larger.

Her elbow straightens and she stretches her arm away from her face…she realizes as soon as I do that on my shoulder, perched like a freakin’ parrot, apparently since Amanda’s last feeding, sat not a roly poly, but a cockroach. A huge (because Amanda is huge now), freakin’ cockroach.  Her body slightly shivers as she holds the cockroach between two quivering fingers.

 I didn’t flinch – or even try to explain. “Oh, thanks!” I say as she walks away holding Amanda’s food, trying to keep her inner freak-out contained.

Some days just go like that.


3 responses to “Roly Poly …”

  1. Elida says:


  2. NB says:

    Hilarious story! I don’t know if the day would ever come that I shrug off a cockroach! Then again, I am similarly unphased by poop after having kids, so….

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