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La Cucaracha the First

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton knew what he was talking about. (With that many names, you’d have to, or else nobody’d get past the first syllable.) His phrase “the quiet simplicity of exquisite neatness,” while referring I believe to a gentleman’s clothing, has earned its merit in my life. Or as he may have spelled it, lyfe.

For a full week I have been lying on the couch, drinking Koolaid spiked with so much Emergen-C, it’s the texture of wet concrete. Coughing, moaning, sneezing, dribbling, shuffling, croaking. (Not THAT kind of croaking. Still here to blog, thanks.) During that week I have also begun playing a game called “Test the Cockroaches.” It consists of me, in my helpless state, leaving things on the floor for days and fearing the appearance of a roach but never mustering the energy to clean up.

I’m not a messy person. I’ve raised a few dust bunnies, but I really run a pretty tight ship. My friends always compliment me on the status of my home. And only one of my skirts has a soup stain on it. (It’s paisley, you can’t even tell!)

Nevertheless, I do live in New York. In an apartment building. And though I’m clean, I did have my first roach experience over the summer. I was eating watermelon and watching television. I left the rind sitting on a paper towel on my floor while the program finished. Shortly thereafter, my cat, James, started acting very strangely. (Which isn’t noteworthy for either of us, but well, stranger than normal…) I saw a black cockroach dart out from under the couch and onto the watermelon. James and I leapt in unison, him towards the exoskeletonic threat, me from it. I skittered into my bedroom. Then I laughed at myself, grabbed a shoe and went back. No roach in sight. Fearing to sit on the couch again, I cleaned things up and got ready for bed. James was still lurking near the couch but seemed quite frustrated at having no sign of the bug.

There was nothing left to do. I took a deep breath. I stood in the doorway of my own living room, James curled around my feet. I said, “Roach. I don’t want to hurt you. You can do whatever you want in my house, as long as I don’t see you and you don’t scare me. If that happens, I’m going to try to kill you. Ok? So keep to yourself and I won’t seek you out.” It’s the same speech I’ve been giving spiders since I was 12.

I turned on my heel and went to bed. A few hours later, I was awakened by James thumping around in the other room. I sat up, flicked on the light, sprang to the window and threw open the sash! I saw the roach zoom from the living room into the hallway and then into my bedroom. James was frantically swiping at it, while it hid in the dark space created by the door’s shadow. I got up, grabbed a shoe and together, James herded it towards me and I smashed it.

I know that it’s pretty impossible to live in New York, no matter how clean you are, and not have a few cockroaches. But in my current sick state, frankly, I’m not sure I have the energy to survive another. Edward George and his exquisite neatness be damned.


  • Baby

    February 24, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    HAHAHA! Maybe if we’d had roaches in our apt in Chicago, I wouldn’t have scars on my arms. Glad Jamesie has something to chase.

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