To say humans rule the earth is a fallacy. While humans may reign in the more civilized parts of the world, it is the roaches who dominate the islands. Humans and roaches do battle on these tropical islets and more often than not, we get the short end of the stick.
I just completed my Semi-Annual Cockroach Eviction in my kitchen and spent the day alternately cringing and screaming expletives like a trucker in disgust. After several glasses of wine and two days distance between me and the blessed event, I am finally able to see a glimmer of humor in it all. The glimmer is faint, mind you, but it is blinking just within my line of sight.
Before I begin, I think it is important for you to understand that I am not a dirty person. I do not live in squalor. I was raised under a Mr. Clean regime and while I may not be as meticulous as my mother, my housekeeper is. And she comes often enough to ensure there is no grime in the sinks, no crummies on the floors, and no dust bunnies on the fan blades. The cockroaches are not in my house because it is a cesspool of filth. The cockroaches are in my house because I live in the Caribbean. Multi-million dollar mansions combat roaches just as I do. It is a fact of island life – a repulsive fact, yes, but a fact nonetheless.
The cockroach kingdom rises to power covertly – so gradually that you barely notice their presence until their roots are already wound tight around all you hold dear. You don’t see a roach for weeks, then one morning you flick the light switch and spot a flash of one as it runs under your kitchen cabinet. Your eyes narrow and you twitch ever so slightly, aggravated but accepting of the fact that you live in the tropics and it’s inevitable that you will see roaches from time to time. A few weeks later, you spy two baby roaches and your tenuous acceptance of sharing your space crumbles. You know where this leads.
While I refuse to spend my time researching the lifestyles of cockroaches, I do know that they never have just two children. They scoff at the idea of starting their own baseball team and instead, shoot for much broader horizons. These primitive vermin spawn armies. Seeing two baby roaches is the mere tip of the figurative iceberg.
At this point, I typically tend to prefer to live in denial for as long as I can, squashing each errant roach I see and focusing my mind on more pleasant things. But then the day arrives when I can no longer ignore them. I go to take out the trash and as I twist the bag closed, one dares to scamper up my arm. It is in this moment, as I flick it off with a jerk, that I am transformed from normal (ish) human being to a beet-red cartoon character with steam coming out of my ears. But instead of a vengeful urge to kill that wascalwy wabbit , it is the roaches I seek to slay. “That’s IT!!!” goes my battle cry. Which brings us to Eviction Day.
Eviction Day is a day for single-minded focus on your one true goal – Kill All the Fucking Roaches. You must obliterate them, their children, their future children, and huff and puff and blow their house down. I have found there is no real way to accomplish this other than taking everything out of your kitchen. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Every drawer, cabinet, pantry, and counter top must be emptied, much like if you were moving. In fact, I find it sometimes helps your mood to pretend that you are moving. Moving to someplace where roaches don’t exist and you won’t ever have to do this again – ever.
Once emptied, douse the shit out of every surface and deep, dark corner of your kitchen with the strongest pesticide you can find – the kind that has been outlawed from other more litigious countries but is still available to you because you live in a small island nation who knows that you need The Big Guns to battle the island bugs. Oh, yeah – and don’t forget to wear gloves.
Once you wipe away any dead roach remains, it is now time to clean like you’ve never cleaned before (unless, of course, you live on an island, then just clean like you cleaned 6 months ago). Make sure you have a gallon of bleach at your disposal. You will need it.
After you feel like your kitchen has been disinfected to laboratory levels, grab your case of roach traps and place them in every corner of your kitchen. Don’t forget the backs of the drawers and under the refrigerator. Once your empty kitchen sparkles and has enough black plastic traps that you could open your own cockroach concentration camp, it is time to put everything back into your kitchen. But not before you wash it all to ensure there are no remnants of potential roach eggs lurking on your condiment bottles and cans. Be prepared that you may have to throw away anything that the roaches have seized. If they have managed to infiltrate your appliances, there may not be a way to get them back roach-free and still feel comfortable using them again. This past Eviction Day, they took my espresso maker and my Chips and Dips cookbook. I am still mourning their loss and seek support regularly from a friend whose food processor was also conquered of recent.
With the kitchen reassembled and so clean you can and will literally eat off it, treat yourself to a long shower and try to forget about the things you have seen and touched. For today, you have emerged victorious. Allow yourself to revel in their defeat for a few weeks, change out your traps with fresh ones, revel again, then repeat until your next Eviction Day. And don’t forget to watch the sunset over the sea – if anything, to remind yourself why it’s all totally worth it.