COWARDLY MEMOIR

My most shameful moment (or the only one I’ll admit to) happened sometime in 1974, I think. I was working in a golf club as a barmaid-come-waitress-come-slave but I quite liked it and the boss was an attractive older man with streaks of white hair at his temples. Jo Fitch (who must be dead by now so I will use her name) and I were waiting ’til the last car left the parking lot so we could lock up – sometimes these golfers would stick their heads round the kitchen door and sweet-talk us into making them toasted cheese. It was black dark but must’ve been warm because the window was pulled right down from the top. Nobody asked for anything. We sat at the table finishing our coffee, our bags and jackets beside us. Something came in the window.

Before we knew it, a clicking had set up as hundreds of black beetles landed on the table, counters and floor. Of course I must’ve done the dance of the get-it-off-me-crazy-woman as I raced to the door into the back corridor. I don’t remember having any of them in my hair – this was forty years ago! But I know I would’ve still been doing the dance as I dragged the door closed behind me. Yes, I held onto the door, and no, I wouldn’t open it again to let Jo out too. But I don’t think she was as scared as me…she was about thirty years older, with grown-up kids. So yes, she was probably a lot more sensible than my dumb twenty. I vaguely remember her telling me it was safe to come back in just a few minutes later, that they had all gone. I peeked around the door as if I didn’t believe her but they had gone. I’d never heard of flying beetles before, or seen any since – thank the gods. And, after all these years I remember the clicking; it was like black rain.

I am tough, and can stand up to anything…I’d take a bullet for my kids and grandkids, maybe even friends, but throw insects at me and I melt out the nearest door.

 

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