Have you ever stopped to wonder why nearly everyone thinks cockroaches are disgusting? They’re really not all that different from ladybugs, tiny toads or caterpillars, which most people like, or at least don’t get the urge to run for the poison spray every time they see one.
I’ve spent many years dealing with these crunchy little (and not so little) visitors, and I still find them disgusting. What are they doing in my apartment? They don’t belong here! All I can think of is how to get rid of them, and I’ve spent many hours and plenty of money doing just that. I had a friend years ago who found a very economical way to get rid of roaches. He would take long strips of masking tape and lay them sticky side up on his floor at night…kind of like earthbound flypaper. It worked really well, and he didn’t seem to mind picking up the body-encrusted strips the next morning.
Not so long ago I went to the kitchen to make some chocolate milk. There on the floor, near the stove, was a giant cockroach around an inch and a half long. I ran to the bedroom to get my rubber flip-flop, but by the time I got back, I couldn’t see the roach any more. But I knew it was there, somewhere. I rattled a few things around, and sure enough, it scampered out from behind the stove. I grabbed some poison spray and went after it, but it escaped and ran down the hall into the bathroom, with me on its heels. I quickly turned on the bathroom light, but didn’t see the roach at first. Then I saw it darting across the floor and up the wall. I thought, “I’ll be darned if I’m gonna let this bugger get away, and then not be able to sleep tonight thinking it’s going to crawl into my bed!”
It ran across the wall near the ceiling. I grabbed a broom and waited until it paused for a second, and then slammed the broom down on it. At first I thought I missed, because it wasn’t stuck in the broom, and I didn’t see it on the floor. But then I looked down, and there it was, in the bidet! Still moving slightly, so I turned the water on to immobilize it and then smacked it with my flip-flop. It got stuck in the drain hole, so I tried to push it down with a Q-tip. I swear the thing was like Rasputin…it crawled out of the drain hole! Unbelievable! This time I really smacked it good with my slipper, picked it up with some toilet paper (ew!) and flushed it down the toilet. Whew. That was exhausting, but at least I could get to sleep in peace.
This next cockroach story is lifted from my upcoming autobiography, where I’m telling about my new job living and working in a restaurant in southern Brazil back in the late 60s. My six year old daughter Madeleine was with me and was lending me a hand in the kitchen:
I jumped right into the routine, with Madeleine helping me chop vegetables and wipe the counters. I couldn’t believe how dirty the kitchen was. At night, when the restaurant was closing, the cooks would make a half-hearted attempt to clean up, but there were always crumbs on the counter, grease on the stove, and they often forgot to empty the garbage.
Once in awhile during the night, Mad and I would go downstairs to the kitchen for a snack, and when we turned on the light a million roaches would scatter in every direction. And these were no ordinary roaches — they came in all sizes from tiny black ones to huge brown ones. And the big ones flew! I had never seen a roach fly before.
After a few of these distasteful encounters with the roaches, I formulated a plan. One night Mad and I stole down to the kitchen. Just outside the door there was a big deep freezer where the cooks put all the leftover food from dinner. We tiptoed into the hall, opened the freezer and uncovered several plates of food. Then I unplugged the freezer, turned out the light and we sneaked back upstairs to our room.
About a half hour later we tiptoed down to the kitchen again, being careful not to wake our roommates. This time we took a flashlight. I quickly lifted the lid of the freezer and took a peek inside. There were hundreds of roaches in there, feeding on the leftover food! In a flash, I slammed the lid down and stuck the plug back into the wall. Mad and I were doubled over with horror and laughter, trying to stifle ourselves so we wouldn’t wake anyone. The next morning when we opened the freezer, the roaches were all lying on their backs, legs akimbo, stiff as a board. I took a deep breath and quickly cleared them out of there and threw them in the garbage before the cooks arrived, while Mad stood around and said, “Ew! Ew!”
OK, I’ll stop now.
For all you cockroach lovers: