When you’re alone, you learn that you are the product of your environment and raising.
Very recently, I moved of my family’s house. I decided against a full apartment just yet as I didn’t want to be locked into a lease when my plans include traveling in the upcoming months. Also, what if I can’t pay rent? A nice room in a good neighborhood was worth the price.
At any rate, after two minutes I thought it was overrated and wanted to move back. Why? There were several roaches that had congregated in the corner of my room. They were all sitting there and doing roach-y things. Admittedly, I wanted to go home immediately. I was not raised around these critters, and when they braved my family house, my grandmother waged complete and total war against them. Even when I was living in New York, the surrounding apartments would have roaches and mice, but my mother (probably learned from my grandmother) was not having it.
And neither am I. Contemplating my attitude toward them, I freeze and my gut churns at the sight of them. And then my vision goes white and I don’t know nothin’ but fist and the fury. And by the time I come back into lucidity, I’m carrying a bodybag (read: dustpan or piece of tissue) to the trashcan.
So, back to these sub-human insects: After biting the bullet and donning the YELLOW RUBBER GLOVES OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE, I took the Clorox wipes and Clorox spray and executed my raid of the Roach clans. Well, I sort of looked at them and did it from afar, bellowing to the ones that got away, “Tell your friends what you saw here today! If you aren’t dead yet, you will be! AND YOUR CHILDREN WILL RUE THE DAY YOU MET SAGE NENYUE!” After that embarrassing semi-win at the Battle of Closet Corner, I swore “never again.” Never again would the disorganized battalions get the best of me. They would not share in the bounty of my cheap store-bought food that I keep in the freezer and fridge. They would not cohabit my dresser, or live within the grooves of my X-Box.
Just like my mother and her mother before her, I was on a War Against Roaches. The funny part is that I am the farthest thing from a clean freak. In fact, I am quite the opposite. My grandmother had to chastise me about leaving the dishes in the sink or leaving papers and clothes all about the place–and this was just two weeks ago! But I realize now that I was being messy in a place that had no pests to speak of when she moved in, and which continued to have no pests under the reign of the rent she paid. Austerity was not even necessary–it was just a precaution.
I’d like to say I was a little more daring and outgoing, like an Anti-Roach Rambo or something—a guerrilla warrior out in the trenches. But in truth, I abdicated my position as infantry and general to a higher power: My renter. I couldn’t do it alone. I needed reinforcements.
“By humble request, I ask that you send in the experts of killing insects,” was the short version. My reply came immediately (because we weren’t sending letters—I just talked to her): “Of course.”
I don’t know why I hate them so much. Maybe I’m jealous of their boyfriends. Nah—mine is quite the looker. And he’s smart and smells good. Oh, and human. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Coming from city life in NYC to city life in Atlanta, the latter definitely has a less aggressive stance toward nature. In NYC, there’s only trees because humans have decided they want something pretty, but not something that was there in the first place in uninterrupted growth. In Atlanta, development tends to happen around nature, rather than pummeling through it. In some ways, I think that this offensive stance toward roaches is a way of pitting man against nature and above it, by eliminating it’s most vulnerable, yet most tenacious.
However, on a note more befitting stereotypes, people in cities were (and are) often seen as dirty and piled on top of each other. This generalization is especially potent with people of color (and with European immigrants of the 18th and 19th centuries). We are seen as dirty and savage, unfit to live in the nice sprawling lands that constitute suburbia. The open hatred of roaches, perhaps, is a legacy of this. To show that we are not dirty just because we live in apartments.
At any rate, the bug man is coming. That’s tomorrow at this point. It would be wonderful if someone appeared to do something in the meantime. All alone with no one to do the cleaning I had always taken for granted, I began to take the necessary measures to exterminate my problem. Yellow gloves galore, I mopped the kitchen floor with bleach and utilized RAID bug spray around the bases of the perimeter. I scrubbed the cabinets and countertops. I even went into the tub and scrubbed away until I realized that it would not turn white because it was off-white paint and not dirt.
I would like to report a relevant piece of trivia if I may (and I may, because it’s my blog) from Juliet B. Schor:
Standards (of cleanliness) have crept up for nearly everything housewives (and myself) do—laundry, cooking, care of children, shopping, care of the sick, cleaning. […] In recent decades, homes have received “deep cleaning,” with concerted attacks on “germs” and an “eat-of-the-floor” standard. Americans have taken seriously the dictum that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” One 1920s housewife realized:
Because we housewives of today have the tools to reach it, we dig every day after dust that grandmother left to a spring cataclysm. If few of us have nine children for a weekly bath, we have two or three for a daily immersion. If our consciences don’t prick over vacant pie shelves or empty cookie jars, they do over meals in which a vitamin might be omitted or a calorie lacking.
~The Overworked American, p. 89.
I’m not sure when it stopped being OK to have bugs in the house, but I am from a line of people who will not and do not stand for it, and apparently, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. My belongings are still not entirely unpacked. In fact, since arriving, I have sealed them up even tighter in the boxes I moved in, having opened only a few toiletries and clothes for work. I’m sure the roaches are sitting there, wondering why. Why has he not moved in properly?—he’s been here a week! They are fools to not have figured out why I, a right Goliath to them, have quelled the outright speciesist onslaught that is so rampant in my lineage. They don’t know that the bug man is coming.
He’s got gasses and poisons targeted especially for them. He’ll tear them away from their families, he’ll pump their homes with enough poison to kill the next generation, and he’ll do it with the gusto of a man being paid out of my ass! And why? BECAUSE I JUST DON’T GIVE A F—ahem.
And now I and the other renters are awaiting the arrival of the expert assassin. It is said that he is coming tomorrow. Of this, I am hopeful. I made a promise to myself to win this war. And so I shall. I just wonder why no one thought of it before. Perhaps I am more of a squeamish child than I ever thought possible. Perhaps one day I will acquire the refined grace of the older woman sitting in the corner of the coffee shop I am writing this blog in. Sipping from her mug and typing on her iPad with a smart, short cut that truncates the full curl she would have if her hair were longer. Wrinkled though she might be, her clever 14KT earrings dangle from her lobes like Grecian military shields. But until then, I am in the only place I can bear to sit still in and write, as the roaches cannot see me stalling, lest they think I am weak.