This morning started out like any other. I woke up grumbling about the noisy spinning class downstairs (Boom boom boom boom...WHOOO!), drank a glass of water (a better pick-me-up than coffee), ate an apple (gala), showered, and finished up with a bowl of quaker oats and an egg (over hard).
When I went back into the bathroom to brush my teeth something caught my eye...something horrible and big and black and leggy. It was clinging to the wall up near the ceiling in the corner. A cockroach. And not one of the little baby ones I'd occasionally seen running for cover when I'd come home after a long day at school and turn on the lights (the last one of those I saw was months ago. I put down traps and hadn't seen another since). This one was clearly mature...and had probably eaten way too many cheese fries over the course of its lifetime. I shuddered. I've always been told, "If you see one cockroach, there are always hundreds more nearby".
A thousand images flashed through my brain: sleeping with my mouth open and a big cockroach crawling inside...taking a plate out of the cupboard and sending couple running for cover...lifting up some dirty laundry while half a dozen scurry away beneath my feet...UFF DA!!!!!!!!!
I came up with a plan. I emptied a big cardboard box I use to store all my financial documents until tax time (no cockroaches in there...whew!), grabbed my handy dandy swiffer sweeper, and inched my way into the bathroom...hardly daring to think what would happen if I startled the thing and sent it running all over the walls. Slowly, carefully, I wedged the box into the corner about a foot below the roach. He didn't move. "Maybe he's sleeping," I thought. My heart was racing, but I clung to my wits as I reached up with the swiffer and touched one of its legs. In a burst of energy it fled...but in the wrong way...away from the box! I countered with my swiffer and herded it back toward the corner. Finally--after a couple minutes of terror--it dropped into the box and started scuffling around against its edges trying to escape. It took every ounce of control I had to not drop the box and run screaming from the room.
Instincts are amazing. There's very little this bug could ever do to me--even when totally free--but something about it...its long sweeping antennae, thorny legs, sickening brownish-gold exoskeleton, and mad scurrying, pushes every skittish button in my body.
I dug out an old plastic fish container I used to use for keeping spiders (yes, that's right, I've happily kept spiders as pets--my favorites are black widows in fact--but can't stomach thoughts of a cockroach in my house) and laid it against an inside edge of the box. Willfully putting my hand so close to the frantic cockroach was not easy, but eventually I managed to herd it into the plastic container, quickly tip the vessel up on its base, and slap a lid over the top to seal in the captive once and for all.
Isn't it just great how the multi faceted reflections make it look like he's already part of a swarm...eeew!
With my bathroom buddy all sealed up I breathed a sigh of relief and went to get the only real measuring device I currently own--a clear pink plastic protractor. I wanted to measure this thing so I could bolster my superlative-laced story with a bit of objectivity. Not counting its antennae (which more than double its length) it measured an inch and 1/2...not quite the 3 inch tropical horrors you hear about in traveler's worst vacation stories, but plenty big for me.
So now what? Should I try to keep this thing as a pet? The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is actually a surprisingly popular pet with some people. However, on Wikipedia it says that roaches leave pheromone trails that tell others where to find food and where they are hiding. If I keep a caged cockroach on my dresser will others swarm in thinking dinner must be close by? Just thinking about it makes me nervous. I can't squish it. I am really bad at killing things of any kind--even creepy things--and it makes me especially nauseous if they pop and get goo all over the place. When I encountered the first little cockroach in my apartment here I swatted it with a shoe out of desperation and it splattered all over--I don't even want to consider the kind of mess this big guy would make. And if I let it go--even far away from my house--it'll just go out and make more of itself (as I'm sure its done already...sigh), and start a big infestation somewhere. Cockroaches are legendary survivors too. They have been observed to revive after being totally submerged for more than a half an hour so if I were to flush it down the toilet, it might still find its way back up out of the pipes.
I have to admit to being slightly curious. Maybe I'll keep him for a while and see what happens. I hear they eat pretty much anything so feeding will be no trouble. If, however, I wake up one morning to find a couple of his friends hanging out by the cage...it's OVER!!