Back home, my friend would tell me his mother’s favorite good luck superstition. “Dan, see all these cockroaches?” she would say. “Lots of cockroaches bring lots of wealth.”

“Why cockroaches?” he would ask her. As his friends and other family members would come to ask her.

“Because we have plenty of them.”

With that logic, everyone on the island should be rich. From the projects at Kuhio Park Terrace to the shanties across West O’ahu. Maybe we’ll find hidden treasure later.

Dan’s house was infested. I turned to his bedpost that had a beanie draped over it. “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was one hiding under here?” I said, yanking the hat upward. And ta-dah, just like a magic trick, there was a giant B52 of a cockroach sitting right there on the bedpost,  antennae casually feeling the air.

My father had similar, idealized bits of wisdom about cockroaches. He would take me down the street to a Chinese noodle factory and bakery, early in the morning. So early that it looked like dusk. The marketplace employees were spraying blood off the ground with pressurized water, having just brought in pigs and fish.

He wanted to go early to get the freshest Half Moon and manapua. Whenever we slid open the heavy metal door, I would watch giant, glittering cockroaches skitter away from the light, like spilled marbles rolling under tables and chairs. The workers were busy pounding dough and placing food in deep friers.

The first time I saw the roaches, my dad gripped my hand hard, as I tried to escape.

“No worries. You know a place has good food when they have plenty of cockroaches. They are so busy cooking, they don’t have time to kill the buggas.”


I churned this piece out during a timed writing activity in class and was surprised by the result. Trying to figure out where to go next.