I’m really not very good with bugs. Some don’t phase me too much; I can live with them with nothing more than a little whinging and irritation. Others (e.g. moths and butterflies) might leave me somewhat paralysed with fear. Some provoke a very loud reaction (such as screaming for my husband in a manner that sets back feminism by several decades but honestly, him dealing with the scary bugs was part of our unspoken but previously agreed upon marriage vows).
Cockroaches are one of the latter.
So, what happens when I see a cockroach while home alone? Burning down the house might seem like a good idea at the time but really, it’s not very practical, is it? And risky; the cockroach may well run at me while I’m sloshing the petrol around.
Here’s what happened this one time I saw a cockroach.
One afternoon, I staggered down stairs to my kitchen, desperately seeking caffeine. I’d worked a 12 hour night shift and come home to have a very deep 2 hour sleep before being woken by the noise of normal people living their lives in the daylight. After that, I tossed and turned. I dozed and woke several more times over the next 4 hours or so before giving up. I figured I’d have a coffee and a shower before I ate something and went to work. Sleep deprivation does funny things to the appetite, so it’s highly likely that I was planning a meal that consisted of a piece of cheese and a zooper dooper ice block. I put the coffee machine on and found a mug when all the hairs on the back of my neck rose.
You know that feeling when you’re being watched?
I had that feeling. I turned around slowly, scanning the room. In the middle of the tiled floor sat a giant cockroach. Without thinking, I yelled for my husband, Carl, before I remembered that he wasn’t home. It was just me and Roachy. It was a horrible realisation and I swear the little fucker actually smirked at me. I didn’t want to take my eyes off him because cockroaches are unpredictable. I could vanish for ten minutes and come back and he’d have not moved. Or, I could glance sideways and back and the bloody thing would have disappeared. Sometimes they fucking fly. You just never know. The only solution is to not look away, no matter how physically repulsed you are. You have to hold the ghastly things in place with your mind. This doesn’t always work, though. As I was holding it in place with my mind, I began scrabbling around on the bench behind me, looking for the bug spray. I knocked over a cup, causing a loud noise. I used to think noise would scare roaches away but they are perversely brave little fuckers that will actually run towards sound.
It scurried towards me.
I resolved to stare at it even harder. It stopped. I, a woman in her mid-thirties, wearing only a tee-shirt and knickers, was locked in a battle of wills with a six-legged horror show in my kitchen. While staring, I scrabbled around on the bench behind me. My hand closed around an aerosol can. Success! I took aim and sprayed. The cockroach didn’t seem overly fussed. It looked at me as if to say “Is that all you’ve got?” Keep in mind, I was pretty tired. I looked down at the green can in my hand in confusion.
I had just sprayed a cockroach with olive oil cooking spray. Now, I face a bemused and greased cockroach. I looked at the time. Carl wasn’t due home for another 3 hours and I was due to leave before then. Staring at the greasy roach, I opened a cupboard behind me and began feeling around. My hand closed around another spray can. This time, I risked a very quick glance at it before spraying. It was a blue can which seemed about right. I aimed and fired my spray can. This time, the greasy cockroach seemed slightly agitated but not in the “My death is imminent!” way that I was expecting. It didn’t run away; it just kind of scuttled in a tight circle. Like I’d managed to annoy it. It seemed irritated and confused.
I glanced down at the can in my hand.
The blue can. Of insect repellent. Yep, I’d sprayed the fucking thing with Aerogard. I think it was starting to rue the day it entered my kitchen.
Do you think I could find the actual bug spray? Keeping my eyes on the oily cockroach while feeling around my cupboards and benches for the appropriate spray had proved too much for me. Being sleep deprived and irrationally afraid had led to one shiny, well-greased cockroach standing in my kitchen. He was probably dealing with some confusing feelings of self-repulsion on top of the sudden shine. The bug spray continued to elude me. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to stare at it until someone came home, so I gingerly approached and put a cup over the top of it. It seemed like a logical choice at the time. Food, coffee and a shower cleared my head sufficiently to compose a letter to Carl before I went to work. It consisted of a brief rundown of my valiant efforts and subsequent failure along with a reminder of our agreement.
He’s a keeper, my husband.
When I got home the next morning, the cup and the cockroach were gone. I believe he put the cockroach out of it’s misery, since I had rendered it repulsive to all it’s friends and relations. It was the kindest thing to do, under the circumstances. And, good man that he is, he hardly made fun of me at all.