Monday, September 21, 2015

Everyday Horror

Living in Florida, one thing you have to get used to is the bugs.  We have a lot of them out here, because the whole state is basically a swamp resting atop a gigantic slab of limestone.  Mosquitoes, spiders, slugs, you name it, we got it.

Cockroaches are particularly common.  We call them Palmetto bugs or water bugs, but stripped of euphemism, they're roaches.  There are two kinds of roaches: the massive black ones that are horrible to deal with and the slightly smaller brown ones that are horrible to deal with.  When we first moved out here, the house we rented occasionally burped out a big, black roach that our cats wanted nothing to do with, so I'd usually have to get rid of it in some fashion.

The problem is that if you step on one, it squirts out sickening bug guts everywhere and the disgusting hairy legs come off.  If you try to pick one up with a paper towel it might squirm out onto you because it's a boneless, wriggling monster.  There's nothing about roaches that doesn't inspire loathing.  My favorite way to eliminate them is to suck them up with a vacuum cleaner's wand attachment: you don't have to get too close to it and if you're quick and get it from behind, it won't run under something you can't reach.

Seeing one in your space is a gut check every time.  I know few men who are blase about such vermin.  Exterminators excepted, of course.

They come up through plumbing, through cracks in walls, through anything.  You can keep your house as immaculate as an operating room and you'll still find one every once in a while.

Geckos, of which there are many in Florida, will occasionally kill a roach if they're hungry enough.  I saw the aftermath once in our back patio: the gecko had torn the roach's head off and splattered its guts everywhere.  It looked like a murder scene in miniature.  Fascinating and disgusting all at once.  Hannibal Gecko Lecter and one of his victims.

When I dropped my son off at preschool today and we put his lunchbox in his cubby, one of his teachers came up to me and asked, "How good are you at dealing with roaches?"

Terrible.  I'm really, really not good at dealing with them at all.  

"Let's see what you've got," I said.

It was one of the big black stripy ones, clinging to the wall over the toilet tank in the kiddie bathroom.  Damn it.  Damn it, damn it, damn it.

I went over to the paper towel dispenser and got a wad of paper towels.  Then I looked at it, figuratively girding my loins.  Despite my fairly high comfort level with violence, I just didn't want to be there right then.  I wanted to be home.

And then, of course, the teacher said, "Oh, that's okay, I'll have Ms. C take care of it."

I knew exactly what she was doing: shaming me into action.  It worked.

I made a grab for the roach.  It fell, scuttled, threatened to escape under the fixtures.  I stomped on it just enough to hurt it but not squish its sickening bug guts everywhere, picked the twitching thing up with the paper towels, crushed it, and threw it away.

After the teacher thanked me for my heroism, I said, "Oh, that's okay.  It's actually good.  I've already done the worst thing I'll do all day, so the rest of the day'll be easy."  

I gave my little boy a hug and a kiss and sent him off to learn in a roach-free environment.

Then I went home and took a Silkwood shower.

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