The morning after our anniversary, my wife and I woke up in a hotel room in Santa Monica. We were pleased to know that while we were luxuriating with a view of the Pacific Ocean, exterminators were spraying our apartment for cockroaches.
But let me back up a bit.
In my mind, cockroaches are big bugs; more than an inch long with a thick, wide body. A few months ago I started seeing much smaller bugs occasionally crawling underneath our sink. One evening, a bug scampered across the kitchen counter.
“Jeffrey!” My wife exclaimed.
I don’t know how she settled on that name, but from then on, we didn’t have bugs crawling in our kitchen, we had Jeffries.
After a while, the Jeffries became more numerous. When an exterminator came for an inspection, he announced without hesitation, “You’ve got German cockroaches.”
Obviously, as someone who cooks and cleans for a living, I was dismayed and horrified to hear those words. Once I got the diagnosis, however, I sprung into action. I needed to have all of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers empty before the exterminators came. This I could do.
My wife and I have lived in the same apartment for the past four years, and I haven’t given our kitchen a deep clean since we moved in. Were the roaches a blessing in disguise? Not really, but it was a great excuse to thoroughly clean the cabinets.
I’ll admit that I had started turning a blind eye to our possible pest infestation – that’s pretty easy to do when the bugs that have holed up near then kitchen sink are nocturnal. Once I started cleaning and looking, however, I realized how bad things had gotten. In fact, I started playing a game with myself, which you can play, too:
Is It Roach Poo?
2. No, those are coffee grounds.
3. No, those are specks of black pepper.
4. I have no idea?!?
Pretty quickly I was seeing (or hallucinating?) roach poo everywhere, and my obsessive cleaning tendencies kicked in. As I emptied my shelves, I daydreamed about my cockroach companions meeting their demise.
Roaches love crevices, like corners of cabinets, and they also love crumpled up paper, with lots of internal crevices. There was one old paper towel that had got stuffed into the back of a cabinet – it was a veritable roach motel.
After I emptied the cabinets I ran the dishwasher, starting with the kitchen utensil holders that had been accumulating dust and crumbs for four years. I did a thorough check of every single plate, glass, serving tray and baking dish to make sure there was no roach residue. If there was, I washed it.
With our house completely torn up – bathroom displaced to the bedroom and kitchen displaced to the living room – it was a no-brainer to decamp to a hotel for the night. Since it was our wedding anniversary, the whole thing took on a celebratory air. Plus, it was a relief to leave the apartment.
Yes, as far as I can tell, the extermination has been a success. It was a huge project to empty, clean and refill my kitchen and bathroom. It was worth it, of course, if the roaches stay away. And if they do return, I’ll be a lot less accommodating. It’s unwise to name your enemies, because it humanizes them. No Jeffries live in my apartment anymore.