Growing up, whenever we had company, principally the in-laws, my mother always seemed to have a problem with cockroaches. Wood roaches, to be specific. They are medium-sized things that flitter and flut and only appear when least desired. Like during dinner. Or just before retiring to bed. Cockroaches to me are not a symbol of unsanitary living conditions—they are a lighthouse beacon that the house is spotless. So spotless that the Insect’s Human Morality Monitoring Committee decides to nip the sin of pride in the bud and send an unannounced visitor in...
In Brazil, it seems impossible to rid a home of cockroaches. They are large and hideous, brown crunchy things that ooze yellow liquid when squashed. I have nearly broken my finger due to their malevolence, as I wrote about here. From the fanciest apartment building in the Zona Sul to the humblest shack in the favelas, the dark underworld of the undead moves about, silently occupying corners until an appropriate moment...
I once dreamt about a roach, whose delicate legs were crawling on my bare skin, and I could feel even in my dream the slight itch that accompanied each step, the whooshing sound of his feelers. I awoke so revolted that I ran to shower and remove the dream residue (because perhaps I wasn’t dreaming. Horrific thought.)...and then shook my bedclothes out thoroughly.
Tonight, ushering friends to the door after a huge Thanksgiving meal, I hear my friend scream and jump onto a nearby bench. My Supportive Boyfriend raises his eyes and returns to his internet browsing. The screamer’s brother becomes concerned. The other guys are standing around laughing. I am confused until I see the brown lump in the corner. Of course. I’ve been visited by the cockroach morality squad. Great.
But then...when one of the guys attacks with a nearby shoe, Officer Roach spreads his wings and...FLIES. Straight at us.
Why did I not know that the big ones fly too??? Shouldn’t someone have warned us? Isn’t that mandatory 8th grade biology information?
So we have eight adults dodging aerial attacks, one oblivious to the situation and one screaming on a stool. Our swatting is ineffective and Ben comes to the rescue with a can of Raid. Unfortunately, that just causes the thing to run up and down the stairs like a drunken marathon runner.
“It’ll die here in a couple of minutes...”
A couple of minutes is long enough for them to regenerate, oh, who knows, a new head? Spawn others of its kind? No.
And so, with incredible courage, and a brand-new leather sandal in hand, I kill the roach with one fell blow.
And escape unscathed.
Arch-nemesis, you have not defeated me. I’ve left your carcass at the door to deter others...or maybe to feed that stray cat that keeps on pissing on my doormat.
Stray cat, you DO NOT WANT to be my enemy.