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Fool me twice

There is such a thing as a bad surprise. You can never think of an example of one until you’re in the middle of the experience. I planned to take Nugget to the dog park today when our usual bundle-up and grab some baggies routine became “when I least expected it.” As I reached for one of my boots I caught a sight of movement before my hand had touched the leather. Nugget and I jumped simultaneously startled and by the sound of his dog tags clinging he reacted as spastically as I did. What appeared to be a sudden separation in shades of brown was more clearly a giant roach crawling down my boot. The creepy crawler ran for it when we recognized him, and my adrenaline forced my body to crush him with the first object within my reach (luckily another shoe). Somehow I am still plagued with debilitating fear after bugs are dead. The potential for the roach to awaken once I’ve grabbed him and either crawl on me or crawl away before he’s officially flushed delayed any further action. I celebrated the miracle that I’d killed the little invader with a mental pat on the back first.

What followed bears an unsettling resemblance to the effects of getting a filling. When the dentist breaks it to you that you have a cavity you tend to go through general stages of denial, disbelief, investigation and activism. First, you’re shocked. Even though when the appointment drew close you started thinking, have I been brushing twice a day? When was the last time I flossed? Could I have a cavity somewhere? You’re still shocked. You’ve had a cavity before, but you think, how could I have another? Then you want to know which tooth. You believe you can pinpoint the cause with a little time and reflection and prevent this from happening again. You actually try to remember how well you’ve brushed and hopefully flossed that one particular spot over the past six months. You convince yourself you had been feeling pain around there and could’ve come in and had it checked out before it was too late. Afterwards, you’re obsessed with your mouth’s hygiene. You brush for at least three extra minutes in the morning and at night, and you floss whenever you think of it multiple times a day. You even spend extra time brushing the area where the cavity-stricken tooth was to ensure none of its neighbors meet the same fate. You know this relentless effort will grow old; your crusade will fade before the next six months is up, but you brush on determined to save what healthy teeth you have left.

That’s exactly what the roach has been like. I’ve survived encounters with bugs before; I knew those wouldn’t be the last, but I had hoped the first roach in my apartment was a loner. I blamed its presence on the window I’d left open to wage war against the unbearable yet uncontrollable heat, and I’ve fought the urge to open the window for relief since to avoid another intruder. When I saw the sequel today I was in complete disbelief. The worst case scenario had arrived and was bigger and more alive than the original. I examined every wall, nook, and corner and laid on the floor to investigate under the bed and couch. I couldn’t find a single possible source of entry for such a huge rodent-like bug, nor was there any trace of another. This search was of course accompanied by the instant twitches and chills that come in intervals after any bug siting leading to complete paranoia.

The dog park served as a temporary fix to get my mind off of the sheer disgust until I could decide how to take action. I couldn’t call my super until Monday and already had a running list of complaints. Roach number two gets an express pass to complaint number one. Until then I stopped in the drug store while waiting for my laundry and unintentionally devoted an entire half hour to selecting a roach remedy. I fear spray for Nugget’s sake, I absolutely do not want traps as that encourages their presence, and I hate the idea of luring them out from who knows where with roach food. The second alternative was my best bet though, so I’ve placed six poison pods around my apartment, because the box insisted I use all 12, but the makers have no idea how small little 5A is. Now my paranoia is centralized; I check every pod nearly every minute detesting the thought of inviting the creepers in, but content knowing it should send them back to kill all their friends. My big dilemma is what to do if I see one: if I kill it I wasted money and worry on poison and prevent the effect on the others, but I can’t let a roach roam around like he owns the place.

Needless to say I’m having trouble sleeping at night, and only my lack of income deters me from leaving the lights on. I’ve regrettably discovered why it’s the city that never sleeps.

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