Infest the Waters: A Blog About Design, Life and Making Stuff

Illustrate 2012: August

Illustrate 2012: August

I consider myself a fairly independent woman.  I own my own house; I do my own renovation work; I clean out the bathroom drain when it gets clogged with hair; I used to change my own oil.  I even take care of the dead mice in my mousetraps myself.  On most accounts, I think I can safely say that I am pretty independent.  That is, of course, except for when it comes to bugs.  Nothing makes me want to run down the street screaming like a little girl with her hair on fire than bugs in my house.  Unfortunately, when you live alone, the downside to this reaction is that there’s no one left in your house to actually deal with the bug–and let’s face it, my freeloader dog certainly isn’t going to do it–so when I return from my screaming bout, the bug is, most likely, still going to be there.  Somewhere.  Even if it’s temporarily crawled away, I can be pretty sure that the sucker is just waiting for me to be lulled into complacency that its absence means it found a nicer, cleaner home to terrorize before it reappears to harass me further.

When I was growing up, the kinds of bugs we’d get in our house were generally run-of-the-mill garden spiders and those creepy zillion-leggers that run faster than Usain Bolt when you go after them.  (Thankfully, they also disintegrate into a million little pieces when you hit them with a shoe, so they’re pretty easy to kill if you can get a clean shot.  Although I will say that their post-mortem twitching legs freak me the fuck out.)  Now that I live in a city, the variety of bugs has changed.  The spiders have gone away, which is really too bad as I pretty much learned how to live in harmony with the little bug-eaters.  I now still have those zillion-leggers, but I also have cockroaches.  Not the little kind, oh no–the massive, several-inch-long kind that lumber across your living room floor just as you’re settling in to watch another episode of Downton Abbey on Netflix.  Not.  Cool.

And actually, it’s not so much the ones plodding across the floor that bother me.  They don’t move terribly fast, making it easier to step on them (I usually choose to stomp on them several times as a warning to any other cockroaches in the vicinity that might be watching.), and as I’ve discovered over the past six years of living in my house, they’re actually kind of dumb.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a single cockroach upside down flailing around wildly trying to right itself and failing miserably.  If you leave them for long enough, they eventually die.  I know.  I’ve tried it.  As much as people say it’s going to happen, I just don’t see how this is a species that will one day take over the earth.  If you can’t right yourself, I’m pretty sure you have a limited likelihood of world domination.

But when they start flying–that, my friends, is a whole new ballgame.  Oh, and make no mistake, they can.  Did you know that cockroaches could fly?  I sure as hell didn’t until one day I woke up to find that one had taken flight in my bedroom, causing me to go from zero to shit-the-bed in sub-three seconds.  Thankfully, my sister’s boyfriend was at the house, and after several minutes of him oscillating between attempting to catch the flying brown menace and running away screaming like a baby on fire, he finally captured it and helped it meet its maker.  (Will, wherever you are, I am still eternally grateful to you.)

On Monday night I encountered my third massive cockroach in two weeks.  The frequency of these encounters has been a bit alarming, as I usually only discover one every several months.  (If bigger bugs are what we have to look forward to in PA as a result of global warming, I’m moving to the North Pole.)  As per my usual response, I screamed, shook my hands repeatedly, ran in and out of the kitchen several times (where the nefarious beast was hanging out on the wall above the door), wished that my non-existent magic genie would make someone else appear to deal with the bug, realized that wasn’t going to happen, grabbed the can of mint neuro-toxin spray from under the sink, and prayed to the universe that the sucker wouldn’t take flight.  After knocking him off the wall with the spray (he thankfully did not take flight), I performed the ceremonial stomping ritual on him, and then he ceased to be.  Only at this point did my dog show the most remote interest in him.  Thanks, Tex, for your help.

It turns out that the upside to my ordeal is that it gave me the inspiration for this month’s illustration.  (From struggle comes art, right?)  However, I feel as though this requires some explanation before I reveal this month’s masterpiece.  I will try to be brief.

My first experience with cockroaches was in my high school freshman year music theory class.  One day, the teacher asked one of my good friends to get something out of her desk.  When he opened the drawer, he discovered a cockroach hanging out there.  So he did what any sensible high school junior would do–he named him.  Then he drew a rudimentary picture of him with a top hat and cane, presumably dancing.  He became a kind of mascot for our class because, you know, every public school music theory class needs a cockroach mascot.  I also seem to remember that he became a metaphor for a group of my male friends’ (including the one who originally found the cockroach) sexual frustration.  I’m not even going to try to begin to explain what that was all about, so let’s just chock it up to teenage boys’ terribly overactive imaginations, shall we?

So with that explanation, I give you Yanich, the Music Loving Cockroach of Second Period Music Theory Class.

Illustrate 2012: August

Oh, and by the way, should you ever encounter a flying cockroach in your house, don’t say you weren’t warned.  They do that sometimes.

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