I can barely look at this

I can barely look at this

We had a cockroach incident in the kitchen this evening. I’m still recovering, having a beer while washing every pot and pan I have, before I can proceed with making dinner.

In New York City, cockroaches are everywhere. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you have, there are cockroaches in your building and in the restaurants where you eat. They’re scuttling around on the streets, and infesting the subways.

I found a dead one in my dishwasher when I first moved to the city. It took me six hours to muster up the courage to pick that thing up (with many layers of plaster bags) and dump it down the trash chute. I’m a little more sanguine now. I deal with them, even the live ones, immediately. I just curse a lot, loudly.

Thank god for winter. I know that with the constant heat and moisture in other, more jungly parts of the world, these monsters get really big. But they get pretty big here, too. Big enough to fly. Did you know cockroaches could fly?

You might call them by another name when they get that big. You might call them “water bugs” or “palmetto bugs.” Do not be fooled. I did the research. That is not a different species you’re looking at, that is a big ol’ cockroach flying straight at your head. I always say, if I ever get a cockroach caught in my hair, I have to set myself on fire. There’s no living after a thing like that.

I came home from work one steaming hot summer midnight to find a great, big, disgusting, horrible, flying cockroach in my bedroom. I swear, I almost moved out on the spot. Instead, after I mustered my courage, my cat and I stalked it around the apartment until I could finally corner it long enough to napalm the thing to death. If I had to do that often, I think I might actually leave the city. For somewhere very, very cold.

That’s the only flying one I’ve had so far (touch wood). But I’ve had lots of the regular, running-creepily-fast kind. I used to get one gigantic cockroach every season. Four times a year, I can handle that. But I think now my landlord is cheaping out on the exterminator. A few months ago I had four in three days. There was one earlier this week. And now this one tonight.

It’s stressful. They’re enormous, and they’re tough. You drown them with RaidTM, and they just keep struggling. Usually at some point they come right at me. I feel like Jack London and some freakin’ bear. Part of me feels sorry for them, I mean they’re obviously in some distress. And part of me wants a flamethrower.

A friend in Shanghai told me he had a cockroach in his apartment that was so enormous, it was trapped in his apartment. He couldn’t get at it to kill it. Regular poisons (Chinese poisons!) had no effect. It was so big, he said, he could see its intelligence. I don’t remember what he did to finally get rid of it; I think I blacked out when he described having to listen to it scuttling around at night.

I make a conscious effort in my life not to hate any living thing. I even made a vow, not to kill. But all of that goes away when I have a cockroach in my apartment. It turns into the Lord of the Flies over here. And I will use anything to kill the beast. Any concern for the environment goes straight out the window.

I justify it to myself, by saying well, killing an insect isn’t like killing an animal that has an autonomous existence. An individual cockroach is like one of the cells in your body. I’m not killing the whole hive. Or whatever you call them. (shudder)

Although… given the chance? Hand me that flamethrower.

6 Responses to “Cockroaches”

  1. absurdbeats Says:

    Jesus Mary & Joseph, did you have to post the picture? Good lord. . . .

    I told you about my roach stomper, didn’t I? (My fear of roaches is so out of control I can’t even step on them, fearing that they will somehow seep through my soul, er, sole of my shoe.) I bored a hole in a leftover piece of 2×4, and glued in a broom handle. Flat bottom, perfect for a quick dispatch—tho’ there was the issue of removing the carcass from the wood block.

    It did not, unfortunately, work so well against the flying roaches of the Southwest. . . .

  2. admin Says:

    I was going to post a picture of some daisies or something, but decided not to. Sorry.

    Hadn’t heard of your roach stomper. Can I tell you something that will horrify you? When you stomp a female, egg-carrying roach, the egg sac will either burst open, scattering eggs into every crevice, or will stick to your shoe (or, in this case, stomping tool). On a shoe, it’ll spread the eggs far and wide. I don’t think you can tell the sex by looking at them. Stomping roaches = bad idea.

    I want to invent a tool that will allow you to pick up the carcass without coming any closer than about three feet. Inventors, please contact me.

  3. absurdbeats Says:

    You’re killing me.

    I think the solution may be some kind of double- or reverse-plunger device: The initial plunger is encased in a plastic cylinder (to catch all those wayward eggs), and then the second or reverse plunger would be deployed to expel roach parts into, say, a toilet.

    Oh, and let’s impregnate the whole shebang in roach-toxins.

    Please let me stop thinking about this.

  4. Jessicabee Says:

    Oh man, this made me laugh so hard. BUT, I admit I was laughing while also looking around rather nervously… Even talking about them makes me feel like one is sneaking up on me.

    I don’t live in New York, but I live in an unfortunately warm (year round) climate, which means we never really get a reprieve. And, like you, I am generally a very peaceful, environmentally-minded person– until one of those buggers comes around.

    I once had one crawl on me while I was sleeping. WHILE I WAS SLEEPING. Can you imagine waking up to that? I slept with my lights on for the next two months!

  5. soundofrain Says:

    Horrible!! Nightmare!!! I don’t want to think about it. How loudly did you scream?

    I do have a friend who, when he was a kid, got a cockroach stuck in his ear. That is not urban myth. They’re apparently unable to crawl backwards, so once they go in, they’re stuck. Again, I think I would just have to kill myself if that happened to me. I don’t think I could go on.

  6. belledame Says:

    only just finding your blog after a rough few days. saw my first flying cockroach – in the northern us – the other day. suddenly came straight at my face in the middle of the night. about 90 minutes later i finally got him. with my swiffer, which is maybe a simpler alternative to a 2 by 4 with a handled in it. you can just stick the whole thing in a plastic bag and peel off the cloth, usually without having to see the bug. i share your ‘no closer than 3 feet issue.’ swiffer has been my longstanding solution to that.

    your post is refreshing read after this nonsense. used to be i say three in a year. now it’s more like three in a month. usually in the same week. one was on my kitchen counter tonight and i just grabbed my swiffer and took it out. my building is old and renovating lots of apartments. there will probably continue to be more in the older units as the other apartments are getting new walls and being sealed up. ugh…

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