Tag Archives: kitchen

I’m sorry it has to be this way, Mr. Cockroach

I walked into the kitchen and I saw a cockroach. It was a big one, which, despite that gut-wrench reaction that made me want to immediately pack up and move, was kind of a relief. I read something in a short story years ago about how if you see a really big bug, it’s probably just a loner lost inside your house, an event more than a trend. It’s when you start seeing little cockroaches on a regular basis, that’s when you know you have a problem, an infestation.


And like I said, that was in a short story, a work of fiction. I write fiction and I make up stuff all the time, little convincing sounding facts, just whatever pops into my head really. And so I don’t know why this provided me any comfort. I’ve never looked it up to confirm or deny its validity. But for whatever reason, whenever I see a big cockroach, I cling to this potentially made-up snippet of fact, that it’s not a big deal, that its presence in my house is an accident.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but they show up with enough regularity that I can never just enter a room without bracing myself for a potential intruder. I’m being mostly paranoid. It’s really no more than one bug every three months or so. But that’s enough. The basement is even worse. Aside from the bugs, one time about a year and a half ago we had a squirrel trapped downstairs. I’d open the basement door and just catch a glimpse of its tail before it disappeared between this hole where the pipes from the washing machine made contact with the wall.

So even though it’s not a super regular occurrence, I’ve still been surprised enough times that I’ll turn on the lights and my body is constantly ready for a possible attack. Because you have to attack, as soon as you see the cockroach, your only option is an immediate kill. If you let even half a second slip by where you hesitate, where you consider a course of action, you’re screwed. It’s going to disappear, you’ll never see it again, but you’ll never forget about it either. It’ll be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, constantly projecting its image in your peripheral vision in the form of phantom blurs and mistaken appartitions. And who’s to say that the shadow you can’t be sure you really saw wasn’t the cockroach? I mean, it’s got to exist somewhere, right?

I saw this cockroach in my kitchen and with lightning fast survival instincts, it vanished underneath the Swiffer sweeper. OK, at least I wouldn’t have to go moving around furniture to flush this thing out. But this put a lot of pressure on my next move. Should I move the Swiffer and go for a targeted strike? Or would it make more sense to slam my foot down on the broad surface of the mop, hopefully knocking it out without giving it a chance to find a more secure hiding spot?

I decided that, in an effort to not destroy my Swiffer, I’d give a little nudge, wait for the cockroach to make a run for it, and then I’d come crashing down with a final stomp. When I tapped the handle, I saw it move a little bit, but the pest must not have seen any available avenues for escape, so it went around to the other corner of the mop.

And it just stood there, most of its body obscured by the hiding spot, but its head and antennae clearly visible. I wanted to be like, “Hey, buddy, I can see you.” Like when I come downstairs and my dog is “hiding” in between the two couches. I’m almost insulted, like did you get in the garbage? Huh? You don’t think I won’t know something’s up?

But these thoughts shot through my brain over the course of maybe a half of a second or so, because remember what I was talking about earlier? Roach. Urgency. Kill. I brought my foot down, hard. As I got a huge wad of paper towels, so I could clean this thing up without having to feel its body against my fingertips, a part of me wished it didn’t have to be this way. Why the need for such strong reactions? My crippling fear, the surge of adrenaline that surely might be put to better use during aspects points in my life. There’s really no choice, I mean, I couldn’t have that thing free in my house. But can’t there be a simpler way? One involving a little less panic and stomping and skin-crawling sensations of existential terror?

I don’t make promises I can’t keep

It’s not that I’m saying I won’t do the dishes, it’s just that I can’t promise that I will. And believe me, I have every intention of coming home after work today and heading straight for the kitchen sink. Because, I know, I said I would do them two days ago, and then I said with even more emphasis that I would definitely get them done yesterday, and then when I fell asleep on the couch for the better part of last night, I begged, I pleaded, “Please. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.”


And now tomorrow is today. And yes, I didn’t get them done in the morning, OK, even though that was my goal. But I still have until the end of the day, right? Technically I still have until midnight. And I’m going to get them done. But you want me to promise? Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?

I mean, I could think of a dozen or so reasons just off of the top of my head why I might not be able to get them done. That’s not to say that I’m not going to come straight home and put those rubber gloves on right away. But like, what if there’s a sniper? That happens sometimes, it happened in DC a while ago. Say people are getting picked off, and they can’t find the gunman, wouldn’t you rather I hole up at work? So in that albeit unlikely scenario, I wouldn’t make it home to do those dishes.

And I don’t want to break a promise, that’s just not who I am. Or what about a flash flood? It would the same exact situation as above, me not being able to make it home because of some sort of emergency. Tornado. Hurricane. Well, I guess not hurricane, because everybody would be talking about, making its way from the Gulf few days before it would hit here. But still. I said sniper, right?

Or what if I get home and the water’s out? I know it’s never been out before, but it could happen. What if that same sniper, what if he’s teamed up with someone bent on poisoning the city’s water supply? And maybe the detectives or homeland security, maybe they found out the plot before it was too late. But some of the poison made its way into the pipes, and so just to be extra careful, the city shut everything down. How are you supposed to do dishes with no water?

I guess I could maybe agree to a promise, but only if we sit down and go through all of the very legitimate excuses, however unlikely they may be, that would exempt me from actually following through. But, I don’t know, that could take a lot longer than we have, or I have, you know, time left in the day for me to fulfill my end of the bargain. Unless you want to add that to the agreement, one of the stipulations could say, “Unless we run out of time because we get caught up listing all of the ways in which I might be reasonably prevented from doing the dishes, including, but not limited to, this sentence.”

What if I die right before I make it to the house? Do you honestly want your last memory of me to be that of a promise broken? And what if that promise then chains me to this mortal coil? I’ll be unable to pass completely to the afterlife, I’ll be a ghost, a shadow of my former self, doomed to spend eternity futilely trying to make it home in time, before I die, but I’ll already be dead, I’ll be one of those ghosts that doesn’t know that he’s dead.

Do you really want that? And then years after you’re dead, you’ll be in heaven, I’ll be stuck haunting this house, the new occupants will have enough of my roaming around the halls, moaning out questions like, “Hooooney, where do we keep the extra spooooonges?” They’ll call up an exorcist, he’ll be a really powerful medium, I won’t stand a chance. What if I get banished to hell? Do you really think that’s fair? All because I made a promise to do one or two sinks full of dishes, a promise that the universe for some reason refused to allow me to keep?

Come on, just trust me here, I’ll get them done. And also, for real, where do we keep the extra sponges? Because, I know … I know you hate wasting sponges, but I hate using old sponges, they’re so slimy. Just … which counter, upstairs or downstairs? OK, and, that big lasagna pan, I mean, do I really have to scrub that? Or can I just let it soak? Because I don’t think I have that kind of elbow grease. OK, OK, yeah I’ll get to it. I love you to. No, I don’t promise, but the very next level down, whatever type of commitment that’s just slightly less binding than a promise, that’s what I’m committing to. OK, see you at home.