The Swarm

May 28, 2010

This morning as I was walking into work I found a cockroach in the lobby of my building. It was huge. It was enormous. It was as big as a minivan. Okay, I admit, that’s a ridiculous exaggeration since it really wasn’t much bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle, but that’s still pretty big, even for a cockroach. At least where I live. I realize they grow them bigger further south. In fact I’ve seen a cockroach that big at least once before, when I was in Florida with my parents. It was in the bedroom I’d been sleeping in. It was probably planning to take the bed, and I briefly thought about nicknaming it Franz and sleeping on the couch, but a couple of other cockroaches had already claimed the couch for the night. My mother gave me some kind of new foaming bug spray which she assured me would kill the cockroach on contact. I sprayed it, using up the entire can to make sure the cockroach was covered with a mound of what looked like whipped cream. And a minute later the cockroach crawled out, shook itself like a dog, and said, "Weird. Tastes like chicken." That’s how quickly they adapt. And with temperatures warming they’ve obviously adapted to living around here now. And even if the cockroaches haven’t moved this far north yet there are always the killer bees to worry about.

I’ve actually been terrified of killer bees since the seventies when a really bad film called "The Swarm" came out. For years I had nightmares because of a scene in that film where a bunch of men with long sideburns and perms tear off their lime-green leisure suits and go streaking, only to be attacked by killer bees. The film’s ads claimed that this was a glimpse of the future, which was at least partly true, because just a few weeks later my parents held a dinner party where most of the men had long sideburns and perms and lime-green leisure suits. Fortunately none of them went streaking, but that’s a different story. And if we don’t have killer bees to worry about there are armadillos. At least armadillos are cute, with their pointy little noses and their funny ears and the leprosy they carry and their tendency to completely destroy a house’s foundation. But at least they eat insects, so their diet probably includes giant cockroaches and maybe even killer bees. Plus I know a lot of people who call armadillos "possum on the half shell", which makes me think you can eat them. They probably taste just like chicken.

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