Friday, November 28, 2014

A Letter to Me From a Coackroach That Got Away

Well, aren’t you the hero? You come into the kitchen and see some of us Periplaneta Americana looking around, minding our own business, and suddenly you’re Vin Diesel or Arnold Schwarzenegger, exclaiming, “Die, fucker, die!” as you crush us to death, bare-fingered. I’ll bet you feel almost as powerful as when, as a lonely, miserable eight-year-old, you’d spend whole afternoons crushing black ants in the driveway of your parents’ house on Earldom Avenue in Playa del Rey. (What, you don’t think we didn’t notice that the subtitle of your ghastly 1995 autobiography I, Caramba, is Confessions of an Antkiller?)

Our running for our lives when you switch on the kitchen light really gets your genocidal juices flowing, doesn’t it, you unspeakable monster? The sight of us trying to scurry to safety really brings out the action hero in you. And they’re exactly the sort of odds a dickweed like you likes — a 167-pound, 73-inch-tell man against a 10-gram…cockroach.

Yes, I used to hate that name. I think we all did. But we’ve come to embrace it, as many gays have embraced queer. It simultaneously evokes both sex and recreational drug use, and I happen to think that’s pretty cool.

You find our having come to share your apartment disgusting and upsetting. Well, how exactly do you suppose we got here, genius? Do Mexicans try to cross the border into Guatemala? Of course they don’t, and we don’t infest — to use the word people like you love so much — kitchens in which lots of delicious edibles haven’t been left out for us. A crumb to you is a banquet to us. If you want to see the real culprit, look in a mirror.

I know where your hatred comes from — the knowledge that long after you and your kind have blown each other to bits, or poisoned your own water supply, we’ll still be around. Some of us can go a month without food — good luck getting and then keeping your kitchen so immaculate that we starve, genius! You’ve probably heard about that trick some of us used to do, subsisting on the glue of postage stamps. I know your kind probably thought it was really clever introducing glue-less self-adhesive stamps, not that anybody actually mails anything anymore, but let’s see which of us is the last creature standing, or, in our case, scurrying.

Some of can go without air for 45 minutes. Think you can drown us? Don’t be sosure, In one experiment, half an hour’s immersion in water didn’t do the trick. Freeze us? Probably not, sunshine. Our Japanese cousins (P. japonica) can survive for twelve hours at -5 °C to -8 °C. Behead us? Well, you’re getting warmer, but experiments on multiple species cockroach species hav shown that lots of behavioral functionality, including shock avoidance and escape behavior, remains even after you decapitate us.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know very well that Vladimir Nabakov, a bug expert as well as writer, believed that the protagonist of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis wasn’t actually one of us, but a beetle with wings under his shell. Believe what you like, brighteyes. You don’t even have an agent. Which of us would you say is nearer to literary glory?

In closing, I’d like to urge you to contemplate the following. We communicate to each other where to find food and water — and where to hide from genocidal monsters like you — by leaving chemical trails for each other. Some of the trails form when we emit airborne pheromones. But a lot of the others we shit.

Bon appétit, you genocidal motherfucker.

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