Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oh, the Horror!

I don't like chemicals. My favorite products to clean with are vinegar, baking soda and lemons. I refuse to use herbicide on weeds instead of pulling them (when I can get to them). I combat ants with red pepper flakes around my baseboards, and crickets hop around my home in the summer and spring unmolested, because I do despise pesticides. But even I have a chemical threshold, my friends, and after 12 years in this house sans professional pest control, it's been reached. I am now ready to spray chemicals all over my home while cackling, rubbing my hands gleefully and doing a jig.

This is all because I don't believe the words, "You've got my back, right?", should ever be uttered by someone preparing to enter their kitchen at night.

I speak of roaches, enormous roaches.

In speaking about them while remembering the critters encountered during our childhoods back East, an acquaintance said to me, "The roaches are going to inherit the earth."

They can inherit it, but would they mind waiting until we're gone? Long, long gone. We don't know where they've been....but we can guess. They're hideous and huge - none smaller than a mouse, I swear. And these mothers of all cockroaches do not deserve the title of "American" Roach, even if they do have a soft spot for potato chips and bologna sandwich crumbs.

The first time I saw a roach in Arizona, I was pregnant, and it was crawling out of the drain of our apartment’s bathroom sink. Matthew thought I was going into labor when I screamed bloody murder. When we moved to this house, I didn't see one for years, not until that fateful evening. But I was prepared to live and let live, comforting myself that they only appeared when it was cold outside, or the city sprayed for them. But not long ago we started seeing one every several weeks, and then I started seeing them any time my hired assassin and husband, Matthew, was absent. Paranoia gripped me. They sensed I feared and detested them. They were after me.

It felt like a cockroach Reign of Terror. The sightings became regular, and my reactions were all the same: scream, jump back several feet and point with shaking finger. Then one traumatic night I heard them. Matthew and I were watching TV, and I heard a very strange sound indeed, a humming/hissing noise. I went to the kitchen to flip on the light, and there were two cockroaches fighting, hissing at each other. After my command for Matthew to smash the heck out of them, I researched this phenomenon on the Internet, and the information quite plainly stated that the only roaches who hiss are the Madagascar variety. Though I risk your disbelief and the boycotting of my home by dear friends, I tell you what I heard was hissing. And so, obviously, American roaches have evolved, or we have an invasion from Madagascar.

My mental health deteriorating, I had to call pest control, because if things had progressed much further Matthew and I would have been dozing outside our kitchen all night, enormous raid cans in our hands, ready to annihilate our enemies with a flick of the light, getting better at the draw until we were the fastest in the West.

As it was I became a restless sleeper who compulsively flipped on my kids’ bedroom lights late at night. Then one night I dreamed of entering the laundry room and confronting a foot-long roach. Awaking from this horror, I whimpered for Matthew to hold me.

Honestly, I'm surprised horror movies haven't been written about them. If we have outrageous movies about man-eating ants, a plague of grasshoppers, the Blob, surprisingly agile giant spiders, created monsters, Amazon snakes, and zombies, I think we should address the very real horror already among us. Before anyone thought of zombies, I'm betting cockroaches had already been around millions of years, waiting to terrorize humans once they evolved. Roaches are far worse than imagined zombies, anyway, because we know they really would eat our brains if they got a fair chance.

Of course, if the hideous creatures did find their way into cinema, I fear I would not survive the screening - especially if any 3D technology were involved. They'd find me keeled over with those silly paper glasses eschew on my already nerdy, four-eyed face. However, I did happen to think of some ideas. If they get made and you see them, remember: keep your popcorn close, but keep your Raid closer.

The Roach Bride or ROUSes: Watch Out! This Bride is a Bridezilla of immense, hideous proportions. We hope she fries in the Fire Swamp.

Sleeping With the Enemy: In a tiny, rent-controlled New York apartment, a woman routinely eats on her bed/couch for lack of seating. There's only one place for the roaches to go for their crumbs, someplace dark and warm: beneath the sheets.

The Hunt For Raid October: In a world overrun by cockroaches, can a Russian submarine with the world's last known supply of bug spray spark the next World War??

Night of the Living Dead: A mainstream American city sprays its sewers with a fancy new pesticide designed to eliminate the scourge of humanity, and it seems to do a very satisfactory job if its piney scent is any indication. The townspeople believe the buggers are all gone, but as night descends, the whole neighborhood must rally to combat something not quite roach, not quite dead. They're baaaaaack!

As for my personal horror story? Pest control came. I am now considering sending my exterminator flowers every Valentine’s Day, enormous chocolate bunnies each Easter, and a nice gift card at Christmas. You cannot underestimate the power of a few chemicals to buy peace of mind.



  1. Replies
    1. Oh, man....that was interesting. Ugh. Well, at least I see that dog food is considered a special treat to them; that could definitely explain why we've been seeing more. Better put that dog food up at night!

  2. Sorry, got there in the end! html is not my strong suit! Tim

    1. No problem! Thanks for commenting. But if I have nightmares about robotic cockroaches, I know who to blame.

  3. Glad to hear you called the exterminator! Did they help? I saw my first giant cockroach in Pittsburgh when I went to college. Then had to deal with them regularly when I moved into my first solo apartment in Chicago. (Those 2 dead ones in the kitchen when I walked through should have warned me, but I fell in love with that place!) I got really good at smashing them dead with the broom. I have a no-holds-barred policy with those things: if I know one is wandering around I won't go to bed until it is dead. The worst part is getting them into the trash can after smashing them. Yuck. Unfortunately, the Southwest is teaming with big ugly bugs. : ( (The biggest negative in my opinion! :) (Camille)

    1. I agree, I cannot abide scooping up a dead cockroach even if wearing a hazmat suit. Unfortunately, I have had to get better at it. The pest control guy warned that there would be increased activity after the chemicals were sprayed for a little bit. One day it felt like I walked into a house of horrors. We must have killed four! Blah, blah, blah. Well, it'll get better. The exterminator has promised he will be back just like the Terminator.

    2. Thank you for your comment, Camille. I always enjoy hearing your stories. I thought I was free of pests when I moved here from back East. Boy, was I wrong!


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