Bugs bugs bugs:
I have a fear of bugs. Roaches, to be exact. It is a totally irrational fear, which means I know it’s insane, but I can’t help being terrified by them. I know they won’t sting me, or bite me, or try to make me accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior, but I still don’t want them underfoot. Especially in my home.
Roaches scare me the most because they’re gross, they’re fast, they’re impossible to kill, and if you see one, odds are there are at least 300 more hiding somewhere. They also scare me because I know they’re everywhere, from greasy back alleys to kitchens of fine restaurants. I bet Buckingham Palace has their share. I am especially at risk because I live in a small apartment building, which means that it doesn’t matter how clean I am, or how disinfected all my porcelain surfaces are, because I could share a wall with strung-out trustfundafarians who live waist-deep in old pizza boxes.
Since moving into my apartment last year, I’ve only seen three. The first was around December, when I walked into the dark kitchen at 1 am to find one examining the uncovered batch of chocolate chip cookies we’d left on the counter. There was much shrieking and confusion from both my companion and myself, so the culprit took that window of time to disappear between the counter and the fridge. That two inch space was sprayed heavily with a can of Raid, but no body was ever found. It was disheartening, and completely our fault: leaving a batch of delicious warm cookies on the counter could be construed in roach language as a formal invitation.
The second intruder, however, had no excuse. I woke up one beautiful April morning, walked into my bathroom, removed my clothes, pulled back the shower curtain, and witnessed the biggest fucking roach I’ve ever seen. It didn’t help the situation that I felt especially vulnerable, being naked and barefoot and all, but I pulled my wits about me and sprayed that fucker til he was soaked with sweet, sweet aerosol poison.
Then came the hard part: how did I dispose of the body? There was no fucking way I was touching it, and it was too wet with Raid to be properly scooped via the large piece of paper method. So I did what anyone with my phobia would have done: I huddled on the couch in my bathrobe until Laura came over.
Laura is a biologist. She doesn’t mind bugs—in fact, she likes them. I mean, she’s not into open-mouth kissing them or anything, but she doesn’t mind touching them. So Laura came over, removed the body from my bathtub, took it outside and even determined its gender. “It’s not a girl,” she said. “So at least this one isn’t having babies.” I thanked her profusely, made her wait in my living room while I scoured my bathtub so I could shower safely, and then bought her lunch, begging her not to tell anyone about what a baby I had been. (She kept her promise, but I’d told everyone we knew within 48 hours. I just can’t resist a good humiliation story.) Then we went and bought traps, which Laura placed all over my apartment. I felt safe.
Which brings us to the other night. I walked through my home in my flip-flops, turning off the lights before going to bed. I’d already washed my face, which means my glasses were off and my eyes had been doused with cold cream, so my vision was not exactly at the top of its game. I have hardwood floors, and as I turned off the computer, I noticed a dark swirl on the ground that hadn’t been there before.
“No way,” I thought. “That’s way too big to be a oh my God!”
Indeed it was, so I ran for the Raid, and stood a good three feet away, spraying liquid death. Again, the same problem presented itself: how to remove the body? There was no boyfriend, Laura was in Missouri, and I don’t have any other friends understanding enough to drive over to my house at 11 pm on a weeknight to protect me from roach carcass. There was also no way in hell I was going to be able to throw it away myself without becoming hysterical. So I swallowed my pride, pulled on my pajama pants, and knocked on my neighbor’s door.
“Hi Matt,” I said. “Um, I know we don’t really know each other all that well, but I have kind of an embarrassing question to ask you.”
Bless his heart, he tried his best to not look uncomfortable, but once I explained the situation to him, he was a pro. He laughed reassuringly, calmly asked for a tissue (not a paper towel! Real men use tissues to dispose of big wet bugs), complimented me on my apartment, and then made small talk afterwards. He acted like he was more than happy to come to my rescue, despite the fact that I’d just done something akin to inviting someone over to clean your toilet.
Feminism be damned. Matt is my hero. For Matt, I baked an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies—which now I know to cover while they cool.