I am a raging women’s college educated feminist 99% of the time. But every so often I have a uniquely New York experience that forces me to endorse certain deeply rooted patriarchal notions. In this particular instance, said experience involved a quintessential city character: the cockroach.
Despite my attempts to keep my apartment devoid of any bit of urban filth, I had failed to deter the most common New York creature from taking up residence in my bathroom. While one of my roommates prepared to take a shower, she noticed a certain creepy-crawler suddenly sneak out from behind the toilet.
Shocked, disturbed, and apparently resourceful, she immediately captured the cockroach beneath a nearby plunger. Then she calmly exited the bathroom and notified me of the gigantic bugger’s arrival. Together, we determined to be brave– to be Wellesley woman who will take down any and all potential adversaries, be they human, reptile, or arthropod.
Searching for the heaviest object for which we did not fear destroying in the midst of our cockroach-induced madness, we determined to employ the aluminum foil box. I called it my personal baseball bat and informed my roommate to lift the plunger so I could dismember the bugger leg by leg.
However, as she lifted the plunger, we noticed he was no longer there. Panicked, enraged, and desperately desiring to smack the life out of an invertebrate insect, I was determined to continue the search (and the eventual murder) of said cockroach.
And with a little help from the One Above, I suddenly realized that the cockroach had buried itself in the interior of the plunger. Instructing my roommate to open the front door, I watched as she shoved the plunger into the building hallway. Instantly, the cockroach went scrambling out of the household item and into the walls of the hallway.
Despite the fact that my suspicions had been confirmed, I lost all control and demanded the door be slammed. Without a bottle of Raid in my hand, I was ill prepared to handle a lean, mean creepy crawling machine. I expressed such sentiment with the release of a blood-curdling scream, which in any other city and on other block would have aroused neighbor sympathy, but instead was met with complete silence.
It was at that moment that I determined to embrace my inner chauvinist and call for reinforcements. The Conductor was back in town and conveniently singing his little British heart out at a nearby karaoke bar. I called him on the verge of tears, and exclaimed, “Get. Here. Now. Don’t. Ask. Questions.”
While waiting for his arrival, my roommate and I decided that we inevitably would have to employ the Raid bottle and spray the hallway down. As long as the cockroach was alive, he could potentially re-enter the apartment, and frankly, yours truly was too caffeine-dehydrated to take that chance.
My roommate– the surprisingly sassier one between the two of us– grabbed the Raid can, and as if possessed my an exterminator spirit, began feverishly spraying the hallway down. Instantly, the cockroach abandoned its hiding place and revealed itself.
And like any sassy girl would do, my roommate jumped at the opportunity. Repeatedly exclaiming, “Die, bitch, die!” she sprayed the gigantic in-vertebrae to death. It was both horrifying and gratifying. When the Conductor finally appeared, I assigned him the task of disposing of the roach’s remains. He complied and then spent the remainder of the night consoling me.
Simply stated, I was an emotional wreck. I likened my brush with the cockroach to that of my experience with the upstate New York rattlesnake. On one typically Jewish summer camp field trip, I decided to exchange the concrete jungle for the tree-filled wilderness. And during this exchange, my friends and I– dressed in long jean skirts, button-down shirts, and Yankees baseball caps– found ourselves in a small alcove beside a waterfall, when we suddenly heard an eerily proximal rattle.
We, more fearful of our impending brush with the snake than the rather significantly sized body of water beside us, determined to plunge directly into the waterfall. If we were about to become sacrificial lambs, we refused to let it be to a reptile. And so fully clothed in Orthodox attire, we jumped… and miraculously survived the ten foot fall.
For the rest of the summer I met with the camp guidance counselor. She tried to work through the trauma with me, but I never fully recovered from the incident. And now, nearly two days after my urban insect experience, I find myself equally disturbed by and unable to forget the cockroach that stole my innocence.
I only pray that my first experience with the aforementioned insect is my last. And if not, at least I am taking proper precautions by sleeping with a bottle of Raid next to my bed. Take that, sucker!