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Davis, California

Friday, September 24, 2021

Column: La cucaracha, la cucaracha

I’m beginning to long for the days of old. And by the days of old, I mean last year when I would start my day off by walking half asleep into the freezing cold kitchen and pop my cereal into the toaster. Of course, the cereal was supposed to be a bagel (but like I said … half asleep).

This might not sound like the peachiest of morning routines, but let’s compare it to current trends: Walk into the kitchen half asleep. Grab the can of Raid we conveniently keep by our food. Spray the new batch of cockroaches that will inevitably be greeting me on the kitchen floor. Then eat my bagel from a high bar stool while watching the pests die a long, slow death.

Yes. My house has a cockroach problem. Not unlike most houses located in some of the older Davis districts, but disgusting and vomit-inducing nonetheless. You cannot truly understand the concept of “bed bugs” until you see the Usain Bolt of roaches sprint for its life toward your mattress. Until then, don’t complain to me about the daddy long legs in your windowsills or the ants your bathroom gets in the winter. At least daddy long legs and ants don’t try to cuddle with you on long, cold nights.

Obviously, the natural reaction to this problem is to call … yup, you guessed it … some pest control people. Don’t let this seemingly simple solution fool you. Just because the roaches are sprayed doesn’t mean they are gone. In fact, it doesn’t even mean they actually die.

They either crawl out of their hiding places into our shared living spaces to die (a last attempt for pity – I feel no remorse) or they curl up and fake a death so you stop spraying them (they’re theatrical little creatures).

Then you have the sweet task of picking up their hard, little exoskeleton bodies and disposing of them in some manner. You can pitch them into the back yard or throw them into the trash. I prefer the yard. The trashcan is where they wanted to be all along. Why give them the satisfaction?

If our backyard were a minefield in Vietnam, the roaches would be the land mines scattered throughout it. Walking through our back patio or garage without stepping on a live roach or roach corpse takes the delicate footing of a ballerina or the stealthy steps of a ninja. Neither of which I have.

Instead, I have to crunch my way through the roach cemetery to dig cleaning supplies out of the garage (ironic?) or take giant running leaps to avoid as many as I can. Yes sir, I am blessed with the grace of a wildebeest.

I must admit that a few weeks in I had gotten used to their presence. If I was watching TV and noticed one a few feet away from my couch, I wouldn’t even bother to lift my feet off the floor. If I killed some of the buggers outside my bedroom door, I’d forget about them and they’d remain there for a few days. Of course, when a normal human being came to our house and refused to step over them and into my room, I took care of it.

But honestly, they kind of became our little house pets. The million puppies I always wanted as a child. If my roommates were all gone for the night, I at least knew someone was home with me. Actually, a couple thousand someones were home with me. And that is kind of comforting, don’t you think?

I snapped out of this reeaaal quick. And what saved me was the realization they had infiltrated my room. This leads me back to the Usain Bolt of roaches. One late night when I was doing especially important things (“So You Think You Can Dance” was on), I see this brown beast out of the corner of my eye gunning it toward my bed.

I like to convince myself that after I screamed, I did a slow-motion Matrix jump off my bed and out my doorway to get the Raid and a paper towel. In reality, I actually did the running leap thing until I exited my room, screamed several indiscernible sentences at my roommate and had her kill it.

The roaches had invaded my comfort zone. They will never be our honorary house pets ever again. Roaches are disgusting. All roaches must die. And I am about to light my house on fire just to insure that they do.

Anyway, I hope this column has made you feel better about your living situation. Freshmen, enjoy living in your skyscraper dorms. Things are a lot uglier down at the bottom.

AMANDA HARDWICK wants to find a good use for all of the dead roach piles in her backyard. If you have any suggestions, let her have `em at aghardwick@ucdavis.edu. 

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