Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Roach Book

I've lived in Manhattan for nearly a year now, and I've yet to see a live roach in my apartment. Oh, sure, I've had the occasional run-in with a waterbug in the shower. But roaches? Nope.

Until Friday.

It was late evening. spiceboy was out of town, and I had cooked myself a lovely dinner--risotto with lemon and cream and some very nice roasted veggies. I was just sitting down to enjoy my feast when I spotted it--the evil roach. It ambled up the surface of the exposed brick wall of my living room/kitchen/tv room. I froze, forkful of risotto halfway to my mouth. I stared at it for a long second.

I thought that is a roach.

I thought there is a roach climbing my wall.

But these thoughts seemed far away, so I willed the whole thing to be not true, and willed the roach to disappear into a crack so I could forget about it.

No such luck. Instead, the roach reversed direction and ambled back down the wall and toward the floor. And still I did nothing, just sat and stared.

I thought oh, god, I'm going to have to kill the roach.

I mean, I'll do lots of things. I'll argue with the phone company about the bill. I'll scrub the toilet. I'll pick up my dog's poop several times a day. But killing bugs? It's just not my thing, and I'd rather avoid it if possible.

Unfortunately, the situation was impossible to avoid, because the evil roach hit the floor and began making its way toward my bedroom. Then Betty spotted it and lunged after it in her curious puppy way, sending it scurrying back in my general direction. So I did what came naturally--I shrieked like a little girl and jumped up on the couch.

I looked around for a weapon. Something that would allow me to kill the roach but not get too close to it. I grabbed a fat paperback novel--one I hadn't liked enough to finish--from the bookcase. Despite it's lackluster storyline, it had a nice handfeel, as we say in publishing. Whatever. It would do.

The roach reversed directions, heading away from me and toward the bedroom once again. I took a deep breath to clear my head, then I leapt from the futon, dashed across the living room (this took about 1 1/2 steps), locked in on my target, and dropped the novel, which landed with a loud thwack on the hardwood floor. I didn't see the roach scurry away, so I assumed I'd hit it.

And then I thought what if it's under the book but it's not dead yet?

So I stood on the book, pushing all of my weight into my feet, and wishing with all of my heart for a dead roach. I had the squirmy bug feeling all over my body--you know, the kind where you're sure there are bugs crawling on you.

Icky, right?

But even after standing on top of the book for a good three minutes while Betty stared at me and made a few curious swipes at the book with her paw, I couldn't help but wonder, what if I didn't actually kill the roach? What if it got away, and it's still loose in the house?

That thought was just too much to bear.

Several minutes later, I stepped down from the book. I thought: a mature woman would grab a wad of paper towels, lift the books, check for the roach carcass, and clean up its guts. A mature woman would spray the floor with cleaning spray. She would transfer the paper towels to the trash, then she would tie up the trash bag and take it outside. Then she would come back and clean the house from top to bottom.

Apparently, I am not a mature woman.

I left the book right there, in the middle of the bedroom floor, then I curled into a ball on the couch and tried to forget about the whole thing. The thought of cleaning up roach guts was too much to bear. The thought of lifting the book and finding that I had missed my target and that the roach was, in fact, still gallivanting around my apartment, was grounds for a nervous breakdown.

I have to get a grip. I understand this.

The roach book, as I came to think of it, remained in the middle of my bedroom floor for the remainder of Friday night, and for the duration of the day yesterday. At one point last night, I pondered just leaving the roach book there in the middle of the bedroom floor.

Around noon today, as I stepped over the roach book for probably the one hundredth time, I thought you can't live like this. So I summoned all of my courage, and I looked under the roach book.

The roach was there. It was blissfully, wonderfully, totally dead. I cleaned up its guts, and I cleaned the floor with cleaning spray. I transferred the paper towels and the roach-encrusted novel to the trash, tied up the trash bag, and took it outside. Then I came back inside and cleaned the house from top to bottom.

So maybe I'm on the road to maturity, after all. I'm just using baby steps to get there.


Blogger elizalou said...

I am so with you there. Where bugs are concerned my policy is avoid, avoid, avoid, for as long as possible. When it is no longer possible to avoid, I grab a can of whatever type of spray is closest and I spray and spray and spray.

I once killed my brother's escaped hermit crab with a half bottle of Pledge because I thought it was some giant bug. True story.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Alexandrialeigh said...

I think roaches are the most evil creatures in the world. And it doesn't help that down in the South they're called "Palmetto Bugs," which I think is supposed to make them sound more refined.

Trust me. It doesn't work.

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Meredith said...

As Richard Dreyfus told Bill Murray in What About Bob, "Baby steps to the elevator, baby steps to the rest of your life."

9:19 AM  
Blogger Paperback Writer said...

So, I'm curious...what book was it? And congratulations on conquering your fear...sort of. ;) Hopefully, Spice Boy will be there the next time to kill it.

9:53 AM  
Blogger kate.d. said...

oh god, so sorry you had a roach encounter. glad the paperback worked (relatively) cleanly and swiftly, though! my first roach encounter involved a can of bug spray and a heavy wooden clog, and the thought of it still sends chills down my spine.


11:24 AM  
Blogger e$ said...

oh man, not just roach guts, but OLD roach guts. you're a very strong woman indeed.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

Fumigation, is another possibility if you get tired of killing them in one-on-one encounters. It's bug genocide.

(I'm a big fan).

4:00 PM  
Blogger Pioneer Woman said...

Oh, I can't kill bugs. I hear the crunch echoing in my sould for days and days afterward.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous C said...

I say it's a woman's right not to have to clean up roach guts. I'm pretty sure it's a law

3:58 PM  
Blogger Lisa Ann said...

This is where having cats come in handy. They kill them, I just gotta grab a tissue & dispose.

3:42 PM  
Blogger rpm said...

They make me SCREAM and then I do a dance and then I run around and after I stare at them for a few seconds...I HATE THEM. I call them "devils." I enjoy reading people's roach stories.

8:20 PM  

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