Thursday, June 11, 2009

Assault On My Domestic Tranquility

I have a psychotic break when I see a mouse or roach in my home. I mean, I don't like them elsewhere, either, but when one darts across my kitchen, they can hear me over at Qualcomm Stadium. And I'm not talking a dainty "eek!" I will scream for several minutes, each shattered wave of decibels upping the ante for the next wall of sound. Readers, when I see a roach in my house, I go to 11.

It's not like we have an infestation. Don't be getting all grossed out and refusing my invitations for tea and crumpets. Just the odd beastie, every now and again. But once I've seen one, the emotional damage lasts for months. Hence, it was worth every penny to me when we surrendered and called an exterminator last summer. They come every three months and work some kind of magic that is better than Zanax (well...let's leave that debate for another post.) At any rate, it's better than therapy.

So it was with both disgust and surprise that my eye-corner detected a skittering across our kitchen floor the other night, when I was otherwise cozy and contented on the couch, preparing for bed. This particular path--from the dishwasher to the fridge--seems to be the preferred one for our vermin frequent fliers. If you've been paying attention, you know what I did next. The echoes of which brought David to the room, still holding his floss.

Sam: I saw something. A roach or a mouse.

David: (totally Animal Planet zen as ever) Probably a mouse.

Sam: I doubt it. Mice GLIDE. They look liquid. This was skittering.

David: You probably just didn't see it very well.

Sam: Oh, yes I did. It skittered. It was about three inches long.

David made the face he makes when he wants to say "Woman, what are you on about? Three inches." But he's a smart man, so he kept it to himself.

I told him I was going to the other room, and I wanted the problem dealt with, by any means necessary. It was like ordering up Blackwater for bugs. I sighed as I trudged away, knowing that my usual OCD bedtime precautions would now be in order: removing every item from the floor of the bedroom, bathroom and hallway, and shining a massive Maglite under the bed and all the furniture. Not that I would be doing any of this, mind you. My bodyguard would be throwing himself under the bus for me. Hey, it's what he signed up for. I believe it was right there in our vows.

Moments later, there was a tremendous crash. Not like the dulcet tones of something being crushed to death. More like the protests of a loved one being buried under a bookcase filled with Hummel figurines. I heard crashing and tinkling and the unmistakable sounds of breaking.


David: Damn! I moved the refrigerator and...never mind. I'll clean it up.

I sighed again. I heard a lot of sweeping and dust-busting and more broken-glass sounds. A lot of time went by. Finally, David reappeared, haggard. Was I concerned for him? Nope.

Sam: Did you get it?

David: No, I couldn't find it.

Sam: Oh no! How can I sleep?

David: Whatever it is, it's out there. We'll deal with it tomorrow.

Sam: By the way, what was all that noise?

Turns out it was our wedding hurricanes falling off the fridge. Well, it's my own fault for putting them up there. I should have realized we'd be moving the refrigerator in a hurry on a regular basis.

After an exhaustive hunt where the object was NOT to find anything, we settled into bed. Snuggled under my pristine white Egyptian cotton duvet with my serenely calm husband at my side, I started to relax. We'd deal with it in the morning. Our conversation drifted to other topics, lighthearted pre-sleep chit-chat and preamble to my Kindle-time.

Readers, I have previously claimed that my life is weirder than other people's. Today will not be the day when I retract that claim. Forsooth, my claim remains unchallenged, and I wish to submit further evidence. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a moth flitting in and out of the light of my bedside lamp. It dived briefly at my hair, bounced off the duvet, and sailed over to the window. I glanced over as it alighted on the shutters.

Then I began to scream like I've never screamed before, and that's saying something. I screamed with my belt voice, pulsing with gorgeous vibrato. As each scream reached its natural peak, I dug deeper, refreshing the sound with great lungfuls of oxygen, and screamed those out, too. I screamed as if to wake people in Australia. I screamed as if every person on earth screamed with me. And they might have, if they could see what I saw.

Perched on the shutters was a roach about 10 inches long. Oh, at least. Maybe 12 inches. It was just chilling there, caring not a whit that it had flown into my room, into my bed AND INTO MY FACE. They @#$%&* fly???

I was suddenly conscious of a soft, dreamy faraway voice repeating "It would really help if you'd calm down. Just calm down. I really need you to calm down" and David was smacking it with a book and then it was all over.

There was a short silence, which David cheerfully broke:

David: Well, problem solved!

Sam: Did you see that? IT CAME TO FIND ME. It found its way across the house, through the door, and INTO OUR BED so it could get me. How can that even happen? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

David: Well, em, problem solved!

Sam: I'm calling the exterminator in the morning.

I should mention that Jarrah was listening when I relayed this tale on the phone the next day, and it didn't sit well with her. Later, she said:

Jarrah: Mommy. Why you ask Daddy to smash the roach?

Sam: Because I don't like them.

Jarrah: Mommy, bugs are part of life. We need them in the world. We need all kinds of bugs. So what are you going to do next time?

Sam: Next time?

Jarrah: You're going to stay calm, and ask Daddy to take it outside. Right?

So reasonable, so rational, so logical. So not me. Readers?


Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

When Laura was in Kindergarten, I opened her window to find a line of dead bugs along the sill, along with several tissues. I asked Laura how the bugs and tissues got there. "I found those bugs in the house and put them outside so they could live." I simply didn't have the heart to tell her that death was certain for these bugs as she'd put them between the window and the screen.

Here's the thing: I wouldn't kill a creature living in its natural habitat, but if a creature wanders into my house, game on.

Aunt LoLo said...


Oh my good heavens..nobody can make me laugh at 7:30 in the morning like SAM can make me laugh at 7:30 in the morning!!

My sincere condolences to Widow Roach and her 93 children.

erin said...

This is like a page out of my life. Except Jeremiah is nowhere as nice as David. He kills the bug, but he makes it known that I am the most ridiculous person on the face of the planet first.

My girls aren't afraid of any bugs and every once in awhile they'll call me into the room and they'll have the t.v. paused on a huge spider. They're delightful children!

Stephanie said...

Can you ever tell a tale.

I will scream with you, just as soon as the laughing subsides and I clean up the coffee that just shot out of my nose!


Caroline said...

Love your description of the scream. I saw it as a movie in my head. One of those shots where they keep zooming out on the shot until you're looking at the earth from space, and your scream is still echoing.

What the heck was it? Was it really a roach??? They FLY? (The horror!)

LOVE Jarrah's response.

Anonymous said...

So,the exterminator came today; her name was Misty. (Yes, really.) Misty told me that roaches only fly in Japan and Australia (so don't go there.) She wore the patient smile of one who deals daily with hysterical bug freaks like me. She said our little friend wandered in from outside and will do so again (well,not him, but a relative.) V. reassuring.

The Wades said...

I honest to goodness was laughing out loud. Really was. You painted such a picture. Great stuff!

You don't need an exterminator, you need a Black and Decker little plug in device that has completely eliminated the roach problem we had in our garage. I thought my mom was silly when she brought it over a year and a half ago. Not any more! That baby has wiped our problem out. It makes the smallest of noises and apparently the roaches (and the one mouse I know we had) don't like it. Miracle and worth every penny. YOu might look into it for piece of mind.

David sounds like a real good sport.

Anonymous said...

Yikes!! Remind me to tell you my horrifying roach and chocolate orange story! lix