Bugging Out

One of us had to go. I want to be clear about that because compromise was not an option in this situation. He obviously believed we could live together in peace. Years of experience had taught me otherwise. We could not under any circumstances stay under the same roof. It wasn’t good for me and it certainly wasn’t healthy for the children. Yes, one of us had to go. And it was going to be that cockroach.

         I’m not sure how the term “love bug” got coined, but in our house insects are uninvited, unwanted, and unwelcome guests. I come by this insect-a-phobia honestly, as most of my immediate family members share my malevolence towards multi-legged creatures. When my sister was younger she was so afraid of bugs that when she saw one in the house she would simply put a Dixie cup over it and let our father deal with it later. To this day I also have an irrational fear of overturned Dixie cups thanks to her. My mother has suffered from arachnophobia for years. She once had a nightmare about spiders so vivid that she asked my father to buy her a gun the next morning. He wisely talked her out of it.

         For those enthusiastic entomologists reading this, please note that I am not a total barbarian. I do have a deep respect for all living things, big and small, albeit a slight intolerance for some of the tinier ones that gross me out. In fact, I have been exceedingly kind to a mother and child pair of raccoons in our neighborhood who have been wreaking havoc lately. These deceptively cute varmints have rummaged through our garbage cans and ransacked the mulch in our backyard on multiple occasions. Several people have offered to trap them for me and relocate them, but I have declined, worried that the mother and child duo might be unduly separated and traumatized in the process. The point being, I really am a kind-hearted, empathetic person.    

         Which brings me back to that disgusting cockroach with a death wish.

         I noticed it on the bathmat as I was getting into the shower the other day. It was humongous and presumably dead, lying motionless on its back. I calmly walked to the kitchen, grabbed a plastic cup and a sturdy piece of mail from the recycling bin, and headed back to the bathroom, only to find that the cockroach had been playing possum. It was now on all sixes ready to make his move. I knew I had to be swift and stealth. I quickly put the cup over it, slid the recycled mail underneath and then carefully walked to the toilet where I dropped, flushed, and sent him on his merry way. Or so I thought.

         The relief I felt as I flushed was quickly replaced with panic as I watched this resilient roach literally swim for its life and reappear on the side of the bowl, seemingly unscathed. He was like the Michael Phelps of cockroaches. I immediately slammed the lid shut only to see his ominous antennae poking out a few seconds later.

         Luckily, I had been duly prepared for such a crisis situation during the infestation of 2008, when an entire colony of ants invaded my closet because of a cough drop that had been inadvertently left in a rarely used handbag. In that instance, it took me hours to thoroughly clear out and clean my closet. In this case, I knew there would be no level of clearing or cleaning good enough if that cockroach managed to escape.

         I grabbed the plastic cup, pushed the cockroach back into the bowl and flushed again. But, as you may have predicted, the re-flush was too soon. The bowl water did not go down and the cockroach was heading for dry land once again. I was left with no other choice. I started to pound the poor fella with my plastic cup until he was headless and left with only a single leg. But even that did not bring down this mighty giant. His one remaining leg continued to twitch, so I pounded faster and harder yelling, “Take that Michael Phelps!” I flushed once more and this time he was no match for the toilet bowl tidal wave that swept him away.

         I do not regret my actions that day, although I cannot fully explain this deep-seated animosity I obviously have towards cockroaches. And Michael Phelps. What I do know is that thankfully that cockroach is out of this house for good, along with that plastic cup, which I immediately tossed in the recycling bin. I just hope those raccoons are putting it to good use.