Something I found in my notebook. Nov. 2009?
Yup. Cockroaches. Lots of them. Crawling up my fucking walls and chillin' out in my cupboards. They’re out there. Little black buggies making a home in my home, having parties in the moonlight and eating my leftover potato chips.
I walk through the door and scan the walls, waiting for them to scurrying. They're fast. Too fast. Most of the time I can't catch the little bastards since they vanish into cracks, ones I never even knew existed, and then I'm left with nothing but a dumb expression. And that's when I grab my spray bottle. My KILL COCKROACH spray bottle, which I apply liberally like febreeze, and cover the cracks (cockroach tunnels) hoping it drips down and makes them twitch and twitch. But alas, I know they've gotten away. Back to their headquarters where they gossip and laugh and tell their friends they've escaped me...again.
Why can't we be friends, cockroaches? I'll give it a shot. Because you crawl on my face! You crawl on my dinner minutes after I cook it. So enough! My apartment is now a jungle and I am the ugly mother fucker. I will spy on you. Let you crawl every which way you please so I can discover your most traveled paths and set them with booby traps. You know what?! I even have a song for you. It goes:
I'm the cock-a-roch killer!
I kill cock-a-roches!
I'm the cock-a-roch killer!
Learn those lyrics, little sirs and madams.
So I've been hunting for a few days now. Like REALLY hunting. And I've cleaned, too. Not just straightening up, which is usually my version of cleaning. I mean, I've mopped, dusted, washed the insides of my cupboards, and locked up all of my food into little plastic containers. Basically, there's nothing but Lysol for these little mothers to munch on. But they're still out there...And that's when I start thinking. Thinking about all the little Snapple facts I've heard over my life but never fully digested. Aren't cockroaches invincible? Obviously they can die, but as a species, aren't they the most adaptable creatures on this planet? And I sign on to the internet...Did you know cockroaches can live a week...WITHOUT THEIR HEAD?! And did you know cockroaches lived during the dinosaur era? FUCKING DINOSAURS, MAN! Cockroaches survived comets and an ice age and now I'm trying to kill them with a spray bottle I bought from a bodega. It's just not fair! They're too strong. Little buggies the size of my thumbnail are too strong. I'm helpless. And whenever I'm helpless and delicate and feel like a little boy...there's always one thing I do.
"Dad, I have cockroaches."
"Well, you live in a dangerous area."
"What does danger have to do with cockroaches?"
"Okay, so how can I stop them?"
"Bay leaves. They hate bay leaves."
My dad was a chef, so any advice he gives pertaining to food I take very seriously. So I buy some bay leaves, not an easy item to come about in my area, and I spread them around my apartment. EVERYWHERE. It's like an Easter egg hunt. In every crack, picture frame, and drawer is a fresh bay leaf, carefully set up so it's pleasing to the eye as if that will help keep them away.
And guess what happens? I wake up the next morning and I see a cockroach...Sitting on a bay leaf! I think he's even munching on a corner of it, not because he likes it, but because he's saying "f-you, buddy! Keep them coming!"
I can't see the cockroach's eyes, but I imagine he's winking at me. So...
"Dad, bay leaves didn't work."
"But they hate bay leaves."
"Well, these ones don't."
"Maybe they’re adapting. Cockroaches are the most adaptable creatures on the planet."
Long pause. Real long.
"So what I do?"
"Turn your apartment into an aquarium."
SO! I get some caulk and spackle. I get long strips of foam you put around your window to make sure air can't pass. I even buy this heavy duty door stopper, making sure nothing can crawl underneath it, which is very annoying because it now makes entering and exiting my apartment a task. But I do it. I make my apartment like a pinched tuba. An aquarium, as my father so wisely put. Nothing gets in, and nothing gets out! Now when I see a cockroach it runs to a crack and hit's nothing but spackle. BOOM! And when it runs to the door it hits a dead end and can't squeeze through.
Gotcha bitch. This ain't no ice age!
And slowly, one by one, I've been killing the cockroaches. Everyday there's fewer. And now days go by, weeks even, when I don't see one. And life is good. But they're still out there. I know it. I feel it. And every so often I see one in the middle of the night, lounging in the moonlight alone with no friends. Because I've killed all of his friends... We'll stare at each other, neither of us moving, because we both know that we're trapped.
And then I wink.