Sunday, September 25, 2005

Uber Roach

The cell phone antenna just quivered near my leg here on the bed and I nearly jumped off. Why so jittery, you ask? Only the biggest fastest cockroach in Israel, that's why. While most of you were busy watching a game or ordering grande decaf mocha lattes, yours truly was engaged in a high-speed battle of midnight wits with the largest, lowest, swiftest arthropod ever. Fucking roach was flying across the carpet -- but that was only after we faced off in the tiled bathroom. I had a vague notion he might fling himself down the drain if urged in that direction, but no, this hexa-legged individual wanted the territories, the wide open spaces. So when I made the mistake of getting between him and the door, he charged.

OK. I've lived in New York. I've seen the littlest Gothamites scuttling across sidewalks with impunity. I've watched with amazement as herds of roaches swarmed darkly across the kitchen walls of an apartment once occupied by He Who Shall Remain Nameless. My point is that I have seen big bugs before. But even those tough Harlem roaches knew better than to charge me. Is it the climate? Something in the fertilizer? The natural bellicosity of Middle Easterners? Maybe he could see I was barefoot and squeamish. The screaming and wild dancing probably tipped him off.

Oh, so you think I'm a sissy, tough guy? He raced directly at me, antennae waving, six barbed legs flailing away, hitting land speeds unimaginable by the North American Domestic Roach. And that's the problem. This was a big outdoor bug bringing his desert survival skills to bear on an urban biped. I truly thought he was going to run up my leg and into my mouth. Or something. That's how determined he looked.

The funny thing is that I was on the phone with my dad at the time, while I was overreacting. As readers of the AZ Lexico must know, aSWQ2 --

Jesus Christ! Flying beetle just landed on my leg. A smaller beetle. Do I need to set up smudgepots and flypaper? Why there aren't screens on all the windows here I'll never know. I'm expecting a millipede procession to come through here with a brass band and firecrackers any minute now. For the record: I usually don't mind a few bugs in the house. I welcome spiders. And I reside here at the pleasure of several tiny translucent lizards. They're skittish but charming, and they typically stick to the upper reaches of the walls. I guess I'd be skittish too if I had to look these Cadillac-sized cockroaches in the eye on a regular basis. But reptile or insect -- too much of even a good thing is still too much.

(aSWQ2 is not code or geekspeak -- it's what happens when I leap off the bed and fling away the laptop.)

As I was saying, as readers of the AZ Lexico must surmise, my dad is not given to literary references, but after I got done yelling about the first bug, he immediately started talking about "Metamorphosis" and how it scared the hell out of him 40 years ago. "Changed my life," he said. "I haven't killed a cockroach since. He's my brother!"

So that's how the bug got in. He has his own key. Silly me. Next time I'll put out a platter of rotting flesh and some magazines. Meanwhile, the smaller flying roach keeps landing on the bed and trying to appear inconspicuous. Maybe I should go sleep in the fridge. Maybe I should get over my aversion to killing. Maybe this is where suicide bombers go instead of heaven and 72 virgins: They have to buzz bug-shy insomniacs until swatted into the next hereafter.

A third and new kind of flying roach just landed on the bed and got tangled up in the topsheet before I flapped it free. It then did a high-speed perp-walk across my bed and over the edge. I've figured out why this is happening. I'm turning off the overhead light.

And now for the thrilling conclusion of our tempest in a teapot: I watched the Big Bug scuttle into the tiled living room at 45mph and hoped that would be the last we see of each other. But now he's probably done hoovering up crumbs from the kitchen floor, has doubled in size, and is ready to rumble. I'm going to set up a police blockade and apply supertoxic bug repellent like Bathsheba slathered goo all over the King of Siam. Or whoever. Enjoy your latte. My entourage and I are going to sleep.


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