State of the Pest Address
You may be wondering.
My once-serene diurnal rhythms continue to be blitzed by my irrepressible cockroach family, those chitin-clad kamikazes of the kitchen counter who, liberally dusted since Thursday last with silica dioxide, rush up the vomitorium of the drawer well, thrust their inscrutable white faces into the spotlight and perform their relentless Noh play of catch-me-if-you-can-bitch-like-whatEVERRRR??!!!
This morning I spotted a new genus, shaped like a tiny black Volkswagen. I think this specimen was a female. (I don’t know how I know, perhaps a subtle come-hither sway of the hips as she scuttled.)
Does the Royal Ontario Museum have a specimen of the Tiny-Black-Volkswagen Roach, Blatella volkswagenia, var. roddisia? Cause I think she has a thorax that’s just made for having an antique pin shoved straight through it and into a priceless remnant of Robertson Davies’s blotting paper.
When I shooed her away from the lump of butter and the leftover sliced fennel/balsamic/olive oil salad, and the bottle of chocolate sauce that had got knocked over and dribbled its contents onto the counter and down the front of the drawers, and the pan filled one-third with canola oil and copper-colored shards of over-fried potato – she ran – bolted in a way that projected real hysteria – to that mysterious grotto behind the taps from which trickles brackish water flecked with roach leavings, then, in an obvious attempt to throw me off, zig-zagged in a Keystone Kops fashion under the dish rack and right into the far corner. There she sat, panting, until she was joined by a couple of pin-head sized transparent babies.
All in all, I was reminded of that scene in “What’s Up, Doc?” where Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand drive the Beetle off the pier. Which itself reminded me of a tweet I recently spotted which had been posted by a well-known lady sexologist, declaring, with more enthusiasm than precision, “I am Barbara [sic] Striesans [sic] biggest fan!”
This is what happens when heterosexuals try to co-opt gay icons: Pure tragedy.
I’m deeply disturbed down to my lapsed-Buddhist toes by the anthropomorphic emotional reactions of my roaches. They sense my vibrations, they hear me approach; they feel my shadow fall; they freeze mid-scuttle—then, without turning around, they saunter away with studied nonchalance.
I suspect, but cannot prove, that they are whistling happy tunes and holding their heads erect. But then the sharp smack of whatever blunt object I find to hand fills them anew with panic, and they scatter.
Daily, at sunrise, they gather in hastily announced Emergency Meetings, weeping and wailing and rubbing their trembling fore-legs together, to discuss cockroach epistemology, the ultimate meaning of The Great Big Shadow Hand of Death.
I am terrorizing them; I am their vengeful god. No, worse than that.
I am THEIR KATRINA.
When I open the oven at 4 A.M. to remove a new loaf of potato-rosemary bread, a mouse, Mus musculis musculis, falls into the perfectly calibrated gap between the bottom of the oven door and the floor of the oven. It emits a piercing and plaintive what-the-fuck squeak as it hangs there, suspended in the hands of god, its little mouse back and shoulders and its pissed-off mouse face telegraphing a resigned some days it don’t pay to get outta the nest.
When my blood-curdling screams have died away and I look again – he’s gone.
Now I’m afraid to look in the drawer under the oven. And my madeleine tins are stored there! First world problem, yourself! Where did the mouse come from and how did he survive the 450-degree temperature and how many years before his lifeless body passes through the maggot-and-liquefaction stages and crumbles into inert dust?
Because I can’t just keep putting off the inaugural meeting of my In Search of Lost Time gay men’s reading group and naked tea dance, but Proust demands commitment, and that means baked goods that utilize specialized hardware.
I start to cry.
Sweet, blessèd Judy, Mother of Liza!, I intone, fingering my ben-wah balls. All I want is to be restored to the halcyon days when I could enter the kitchen without my musculature primed for flight at adrenaline levels not seen since the Stone Age, and leave the kitchen without shrieking like a 12-year-old girl whose sadistic gym teacher has just confiscated her Hello, Kitty backpack and iPhone 5.
Later in the day, shortly after I’ve turned on the oven in preparation for baking those madeleines, I smell something vaguely like roast beef…
Wikipedia, The Encyclopedia You Write Yerself!™, tells me the following:
♦ Mice eat their own feces, which allows them to process the extra nutrients their digestive systems couldn’t extract the first time round.
♦ Female mice, when in heat, stretch, point their nose and hindquarters into the air, arch their back downward, and vibrate their ears.
I just provide the information. What you do with it is your business.
Cockroach Poem, by me.
The cockroach runs, then hesitates.
He feels quite safe beneath the plates.
Yet of the roach’s many traits,
The one that serves him least, I think,
Is feeling two emotional states
At once while resting in the sink.
He’s unaware it’s tempting Fate
To stop a while and meditate.
Which is lucky for me,
Cause while he’s meditating,
I can take a cast iron frying pan
And squash him to fuck.