I Know this Pegs Me as a Pessimist, but I Can’t Think of One Situation Where More Cockroaches Might Actually Enhance My Life
Yesterday I realized that dead cockroaches in the house are the perfect metaphor for my life and got to experience my heart leaping as it always does when I discover a perfect metaphor while it simultaneously plummeted in disgust – a not uncommon reaction when contemplating dead cockroaches in the house.
This emotional paradox was precipitated by my encounter with a dead cockroach in the living room yesterday. Actually, it was not completely dead, just nearly dead (a stage of expiration which I find highly amusing in The Princess Bride and Spamalot, but is much less laughable when I’ve grabbed an entire roll of paper towels to pick up a cockroach and he vehemently begins to protest from his prone position with legs waving violently in the air and somehow manages to wedge himself into the perfect position in our plumbing to clog up the toilet which I used to dispose of him – although I might grudgingly admit that the roll of paper towels that encased him might have contributed to that situation.)
Anyway, this reminded me of what the pest control dude told me a few weeks ago when I called him to take care of this exact problem – the regular sighting of upended arthropods within our abode.
“I’m going to put out some poison around the perimeter of the house. In the next couple of weeks, you’ll probably find some more dead cockroaches in here,” he informed me.
“So, let me get this straight. I called you because I keep finding dead cockroaches, and you are telling me that your solution is to give me more dead cockroaches?”
“But they’re dead. Dead is good.”
“No, dead outside is good. Dead inside is a problem. And dead insect corpses littering my floor and crunching every time I walk is a bigger problem that will result in me relocating to the mental hospital – and probably canceling your contract.”
Of course I didn’t say the last part. That’s whatimeant2say. But I knew the results of prolonging the conversation…
“You’re lucky you have dead cockroaches. Some people live in huts with live ones crawling all over the place, spreading disease and laying eggs in their ears.”
To which I would reply, “Some people go their whole lives without seeing a cockroach. Some people have other people who work for them and never try to persuade them that more cockroach cadavers is actually an improvement to their living conditions.”
Why can’t I be those “some people” just once? Why do I always have to be the in-between “some people” who don’t have it great, but could have it a whole lot worse?
Just once, I would like someone to say, “Everyone has it worse than you. There is no better-than-this.” Just once I would like to be the happy cockroach, racing freely through an open field without a care in the world, instead of the somewhat dead cockroach counting his blessings that he hasn’t been flattened by a shoe – his last comforting thought as he is flushed down the toilet.
So, I got a new job this year. Actually, it’s the same job – just at a different place. I was teaching at my previous school for 13 years, and then got the opportunity to transfer to one closer to my home. When I was swimming in a sea of boxes in the middle of August, and locked out of my room by a cockroach, it occurred to me that volunteering to change schools was not the most intelligent decision I had ever made. In my previous school, cockroaches were usually polite enough to die before I encountered them, and I’m pretty sure that I had a lot fewer teaching materials stored in all of the cubbies and walk-in closet than the plethora that suddenly seemed to poised to swallow me and my new, zero-storage room.
But it was too late to go back. And I adjusted, and made a few medication changes, and prominently displayed an ant farm in the middle of the classroom so the cockroach could make an informed decision about whether or not he wanted to risk another sudden appearance in front of a woman who was not above sticking insects in a transparent prison with fake plastic buildings.
It has taken me until now to realize the true advantage of my new position, and to kick myself for waiting 13 years to make this discovery.
“I love that dress!”
“Wow, you look so fashionable today!”
“You always look so chic!”
“You look beautiful!”
Okay, the last compliment was from a kindergartener who was probably trying to angle a sticker out of me. But, still. Suddenly, praise for my wardrobe is greeting me on a daily basis.
And I haven’t bought anything new.
I just plucked out my same ole winter rags that I’ve worn for the last several seasons, and people are acting like I just walked off the runway. Modeling runway, I mean, of course. Because if I just walked off a plane runway, I’d probably be tackled by Homeland Security and accused of terroristic acts. And full body searched. Which would not be pleasant. And probably would not make me feel very good about myself or my clothes.
So, anyway, I now realize that, instead of spending money on clothing each season so I won’t blend into the wall because people are so used to me wearing the same 5 outfits, I just need to change jobs every year. I need to employ my faculties finding a new faculty to employ me, instead of agonizing over new, risky fashion choices. Consider it my little contribution to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Movement.
And, maybe, if I can keep this ingenious plan going for the next 5 or 6 years, I’ll save up enough money to buy this sweet little pair of Jimmy Choos.
What? You weren’t expecting me to donate the cash to charity or something, did you?
I am the woman who saves spiders from my daughter’s sound barrier breaking screeches. I am the woman who distracts my husband long enough so that he cannot stomp on the lizard in the shower. I am the woman who grabbed a live rat snake at the back of his head, walked him to our back door, and flung him into the back yard – probably bruising only his ego.
I am the woman who becomes a boneless lump on the floor whenever I spot a cockroach.
I do not know why I am so completely unnerved by only these creatures, but they are definitely my Kryptonite. (Except for hissing cockroaches in the Science Lab next door to my classroom. For some reason, those do not overly concern me. Probably because they are in containers…)
But 6 foot long cockroaches that hide in my moving boxes in my brand new (to me) classroom, and leap into my face when I lift up a book, and are obviously planted by terrorists with the intention of dismantling the United States’ educational system one terrified teacher at a time, have a hard time getting on my good side.
I do not like squishing cockroaches. This is not out of any kind of concern for their well-being; it is because the last time I tried to squish one, it refused to die. My fear of live cockroaches is only rivaled by my fear of live cockroaches that will not die – reminding me that when I die they will crawl in my ear and have babies for the rest of eternity.
So, I did what I considered to be a very well-thought-out maneuver. I grabbed the box with the leaping cockroach, and ran outside my classroom so I could fling it. Away. From. My. Ears.
My classroom is in a portable building. For security reasons, we must keep our doors locked at all times.
As soon as I ran out of the room, the door slammed behind me. Locking me out.
I set down the box. The cockroach flung himself to freedom.
Toward the hole in the bottom corner of my door.
The cockroach was in and I was out.
I weighed the benefits of quitting my job and walking away from the classroom forever or walking to the office to get someone to let me back into my room. Say my room is Texas. The office would be Mars. That’s how far the office is from my classroom.
I knocked on the door to see if the cockroach would let me back in.
Apparently, he does not welcome unsavory characters like me in his living space.
I sighed, and walked down to the office. I did not tell them that a cockroach locked me out. But I made certain the burly custodian entered my classroom first.
She did not seem too worried about terroristic cockroaches.
She showed me how to keep my door unlocked so I could avoid the re-occurence of absentmindedly walking outside and allowing the door to slam irrevocably shut. Even though I can’t keep it unlocked because it’s against the rules. Another moral dilemma that I get to debate in my head.
Then she left.
I think that, if we sell the car, cancel our cable, and stop eating, I could probably afford to stay home.
Or, I can just walk around with cotton in my ears.
It’s a tough call.