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Where Have All The Roaches Gone?

cockroach-broochRoaches aren’t supposed to exist in High Rise Society, but they do.  Their presence used to be kept secret because it was considered a stigma, like lice. But now most buildings have an exterminator list posted announcing to the world, or at least fellow tribesmen, which apartments are infested.

A few years back there was an invasion of unknown origin n my building.  Someone who thought she’d solved the mystery, posted notices on every floor laying blame, which didn’t seem to me to make sense because roaches can’t read and no one else paid her any mind.

I was lucky.  The roaches passed by my apartment.  In fact I’ve never had a roach, at least not a regular roach, though I once had a mouse, which totally freaked me out.  Everyone knows that roaches live in apartments in the city, and mice in houses in the country so I feared if one mouse had managed to get from the country to the city and encroach upon roach territory others might soon follow suit, unleashing a near panic among members of High Rise Society.

Worse, though, was the night of The Foreign Invader. I was lying in bed when a giant prehistoric-looking creature flew in the window.  I thought I was hallucinating. or maybe it was Halloween.  Yes, I know I could inflict more harm on it, than it could on me, but I had no intention of going to sleep till I had dispatched of The Thing, which I did by echeng_eats_cockroachsmothering it in a bath towel, then stomping on it to be sure whatever was inside was dead. Later I did some research and found out that unlike the German Cockroach, which doesn’t fly and likes to live indoors in apartments, the Asian Cockroach is an accomplished flyer from Florida that lives outdoors and at night flies to homes, looking for light. I figure it must have flown off course, like the mouse that came from the country to the city to find me, so I decided from then on to keep my windows closed.

I think roaches prefer prewar buildings, which is easy to understand because they’re architecturally beautiful, except I always thought roaches were attracted by dirt, not aesthetics. Then maybe I haven’t given them enough credit. Last Thanksgiving when I went to visit my sister in her Deco-era apartment, I found her in the kitchen, banging on the stove. This didn’t seem odd to me because our mother also pounded when she cooked, a hammer being her preferred kitchen utensil, which she used for flattening meat and chopping ice. Only when my sister started cursing, not something she normally does, did I realize she was at war with a family of roaches that had decided to inhabit the clock in her stove. “Yech, that’s disgusting,” we both screamed as one.

Then I visited a friend at a building of even earlier vintage, only to find an army of roaches when I opened the freezer to get the bag of ice she’d requested. I figured they must have been around almost as long as the building to have adapted so successfully to such frigid temperature, and though I admired the apartment, I didn’t eat much.

At my building the roach list posted on the bulletin board is pretty empty except for the same three people who sign up every week for the exterminator, so now the form is preprinted with their names. I always wonder: How do they know the roaches are coming? It’s not the kind of event you wish for, like the coming of the Messiah. Maybe they know something I don’t – or maybe they’re just paranoid, not something you want to let on to fellow tribesmen.

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