Friday night I decided I was not going to drink or dance like an Albanian. Which did not mean I was not going to celebrate the weekend at all. I decided to go to Burger King.
I shut off half my brain as I put on a jacket and scarf and then meandered my way to the door. I wasn’t ten feet away before I saw it: the most sprawling cockroach I’d ever seen.
Its posture was so menacing that it could have been an extra in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It looked like Jafar’s magical bug from Aladdin, if said bug was possessed with the spirit of the Exorcist. Naturally, the roach could have been possessed by the spirit of Bambi and it would have made no difference. I’d have freaked out.
I pondered my options. As a wannabe adult, I could have dealt with it at that moment. I could have told my roommate, who assumes the role of Gestapo at the thought of any bugs in the place. He clearly would have dealt with it. But I did neither. I did option three, my personal favorite in stressful situations. I kept my head down. And left.
Upon getting my two Chick’n Crisp sandwiches and a large Fries, I came back, said nothing, didn’t look back up to see if it was still around. It was if it was never there.
As a general rule, if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. This motto comes into play in a lot of situations, like considering the existence of a divine power, phone calls from ex-girlfriends, report cards that might have a bad grade. Part of my cheery countenance is because I avoid things that would make me less so. Sometimes this approach is beautiful. Other times, less so. So far, I thought this had worked out in my favor.
Saturday, required to start work at 11am, I peeked at the door. No roach in sight. Crisis averted. My strategy of ignore-and-wait, once again, paid off.
Upon enjoying my day with tourists and free coffee, I came back to the apartment, ready to head into my bedroom, collapse into bed, watch some college basketball and revel knowing that I’d done my grownup duty for the day. But of course it’s never that easy.
I looked toward the floor and there it was. Chilling by the door like a small mouse. Fuck.
I’m a believer in coexisting with all men and women and small creatures that surface in the corners of my room. But even for a guy as chill and laidback and conveniently happy go lucky as me, this wasn’t going to work. Bugger had to GTFO.
It takes me a long time to deal with situations like this. I knew that I couldn’t not deal with this sucker and so taking more time to work up the courage too would have only cause me more stress.
I dropped a shoe at the roach, Hiroshima style. It was a good shot for a rather pathetic attempt to kill a roach. Its little legs began to shrivel toward it’s body, making awkward contorted motions on its back. It was ugly. But this sucker clearly was not dead. I dropped the other shoe on it. He stayed silent. I relaxed. Went back to my computer and Tweeted.
Just killed the biggest roach of my life. Bugger was like a small mouse. I need a hug.—
Robert Wohner (@robwoh) January 19, 2013
Of course, killing the sucker was only half of my problem. I’d still have to remove the bugger from my room. Part of me questioned the absolute necessity of it. It was dead after all. It couldn’t spawn. It couldn’t enter my mouth while I slept. The worst was over.
Even for a pacifist like me, I told myself to grow a pair and get it out. I went up and moved the shoes and was shocked. The roach was still not dead! It was twitching, even more violently than before. I quickly pondered the roaches’ evolutionary history that could have prepared this creature for such a battle. Its mutations clearly where in its favor. After a few million years, I’m sure a cowardly New Yorker was the last of its worries. Any other day, he would have survived. Just not this one.
I gave it one last final shoe drop and got the broom. It became a showcase in man-to-roach combat until I was finally convinced that in the battle of man-versus-food, man won. Of course, all of this was happening with my head turned and my eyes squinting. So I can’t be sure. I put a napkin over it and swept the bugger away in the garbage can. Mission accomplished.
The fact that I’m writing about killing a roach is a testament to how grossly inept I am at the most basic level of adult functioning. Not because I’m someone who necessarily asks someone else to kill the roaches for me, although I gladly would have taken the help. But because I’m comfortable enough living in a space where there are roaches that need to be killed and I let them remain, rationalizing how their existence does not impact my own. All manner of spiders and roaches and all sort of creeping things have coexisted in my space because I’m not one to deal with them. And so in that way, it was worth writing about. My first killed roach was a doozy.
Remember, I’m a pacifist in the spirit of Lennon, Picasso and Jesus Christ. But I am also a believer in evolution, biologically and personally. The roach had a good run and is a marvel to me and biologists ever. But it needed to go.