Sunday, September 27, 2009

La Cucaracha: an essay with passion


La Cucaracha, La cucaracha;
Ya no quieres caminar…


That’s what the song says. It states that the cockroach does not want to continue on. I have never seen a cockroach that did not want to go on. They are survivors. They’re the ones that certain scientists think will survive a nuclear holocaust (like the one that Iran is gearing up for, no doubt). Now, don’t think that just because I admit that they are tough and adaptable and can live indefinitely on next to nothing that I have even a modicum of respect or even (shudder) admiration for these plagues. Nope.

They are nasty, evil, treacherous, and all of that times 10 when they fly at you. Big, high-walking, scratchy-legged scavengers that revel in surprising my daughters in the kitchen, or the bathroom, or outside the front door. They have a diabolical intellect, though simple and unadorned. Their intents are guided primarily by striking fear into humans, and only on the second tier, eating. When a roach flies at you, it is not to escape. It is a tactic reminiscent of the kamikazi pilots of Japan. Take wing directly to the enemy, though he be larger, he may just run screaming like a little girl. Didn’t really work in the Pacific in the early 1940s, but the intent was the same. Except I think that more of those pilots died than have the roaches who take the same approach.

I can’t tell how many times I have been lurched awake from a nap or solid nighttime slumber by the shrieks of my oldest daughter after a sighting. The middle one is better, but she is reluctant to enter a room where one has been seen without proof of extermination; she needs a habeas corpus. The littlest gal is a bit more intrepid; she’ll actually kill one herself with whatever is at hand, and since we don’t allow shooting in the house, it’s usually a sister’s flip flop conveniently left wherever.

It’s not like we’re infested, we have sprayed around the house at various times and supplemented with Bengal at the entrances and other possible entry points. So most of the shiny brown devils we see are at least ailing, if not on their last tour of duty. This aids us immensely in the killing of the intruders; normally a cockroach’s reflexes are so lightening-fast that they can smell the synapses fire in your arm just as your nerves cause your muscles to contract in the effort to smash them with a shoe. Unless you’re an experienced roach hunter, you don’t know to lead them by a sole width so that they run into the hammer of judgment.

But the experienced hunter also knows that it takes a deft touch to kill the quarry in the proper way. A well-timed, well-aimed monster slam will give the killer a satisfying recoil, but it will also provide the dreaded “pop/crackle” that indicates that you will have the unsavory job of cleaning up the roach innards that explode from the unfortunate target.

I watched my Grandmother play cat-and-mouse with a big roach one summer night a long time ago. We were watching TV and kept seeing the shiny dark form trekking back and forth in front of the old black and white Zenith. Each time GranMommy would spot him, the roach would skitter back across the floor to safety. After several near misses and frustrated attempts to send him to his eternal punishment, she just happened to be returning from a trip to the kitchen that coincided with his trek across the floor. There, in front of all of her grandchildren, GranMommy said, “Roach, you and me have done had it out!”, and with that declaration, she shot her bare foot out and crushed him. We were shocked at her brave, bare foot and admiring of her fearless protection of us.

Ya no quieres caminar, indeed!

5 comments:

DammitWomann said...

Bare feet ???? eewwwwwwww

Your GrandMommy was ruthless. LOL

aA said...

Yes DW, this was the woman who could wring a chicken's neck, fillet a redfish, and make flowers out of scraps of paper. She was quite a gal.

And she hated roaches.

innominatus said...

They aren't very common around here. I've never seen one fly - I actually didn't even know they could.

aA said...

Innominatus: They're everywhere down here. And yes they CAN fly, and the clattery sound they make is verrrry unnerving. Especially when the stops and you simultaneously feel contact on your shirt. UAH! Freak Out City. I don't scream, but I do make the "roach dance".

Howlsatmoon said...

For safety.....use an electric operated air soft gun.

Yee ha!!!

We had big Roaches growing up in Southern AZ, we called 'em water bugs, but "I tell you What"...

Nothing but Nothing beats the Beasts I saw when I was romancing that fine Lady down in Florida....

Palmetto Bugs. Jeeber Fist, they were HUGE and fast as lightning.....

*The air soft idea is for real*