Saturday, August 7, 2021

Ralph the Cockroach: Another Tale from the Pit Crew


 Here’s a story told to me by a current member of my pit crew, which is what I call the people I hire to get me out of bed, wipe my butt, etc.

When Nick was in high school, his girlfriend broke up with him and that made him sad. So another friend, who was a girl but not his girlfriend, gave him a new pet to help cheer him up. She brought a terrarium over to Nick’s house and in it was a cockroach about as big as the palm of Nick’s hand.

It was a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Nick’s mom was cool with having a pet cockroach in the house but his dad was quite stressed about it. Nick’s dad had a cockroach phobia due to an incident that occurred way back when he worked at a food store. Nick’s dad was carrying a bag of grain that was full of cockroaches, which was unbeknownst to him until the bag accidentally burst open and the escaping cockroaches crawled all over him.

So Nick kept the cockroach but he named it Ralph because his dad often said if he ever had a pet dog he would name it Ralph. Nick figured if he named his cockroach Ralph, it might cause his dad to view it in a more positive light.

Nick dutifully fed Ralph dog food, as the girl who was his friend but not his girlfriend had instructed him to do. Ralph didn’t hiss much at first, which disappointed Nick. But after becoming more comfortable with his surroundings, Ralph hissed at night and this created a soothing bond with him for Nick and helped take Nick’s mind off of the break up.

Nevertheless, Nick’s dad lived in fear that Ralph would one day escape from the terrarium and, sure enough, it happened. But Nick sprang into action and eventually found Ralph lounging atop a David Bowie album. Nick returned Ralph to his terrarium and issued the all clear.

For the next year and a half or so, Nick and Ralph lived happily ever after. Nick even got a new girlfriend, who also bonded with Ralph. But then Nick was accepted into college in Chicago and the dorm had a strict no-cockroach policy. That’s good. The world would be a better place if more dorms had strict no-cockroach policies.

So Nick turned over custody of Ralph to the new girlfriend. But Nick was worried because the new girlfriend was moving to Toronto. She vowed to take Ralph with her and continue to care for him. But what if the Canadian authorities denied entry of a foreign cockroach into their country? Would the new girlfriend have no choice but to free Ralph into the wild to fend for himself, where he wouldn’t stand a chance?

But soon Nick received pictures from the new girlfriend confirming that she and Ralph arrived safely in Toronto. Nick had no idea how the new girlfriend got Ralph past Canadian border security. Perhaps she smuggled him in. But Nick didn’t ask. He was just relieved that they made it.

As Nick and the new girlfriend faded away, so did her updates on Ralph. Nick assumes that Ralph is now dead, since average lifespan of a Madagascar hissing cockroach (in the wild) is three to five years, according to But Nick will always have a fondness in his heart for Ralph the cockroach for helping him through a trying time.

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