As I sat on my deck this morning, wrapped in my jacket coffee in hand, I was hoping to entice Spring to finally arrive. Although the temperatures were not as mild as I would like, the birds were chirping feverishly, a sure sign Spring is just around the corner. The trees are trying to bud but still wary, the lilac bushes are close to popping their greenery but are hesitant and the irises are starting to poke their stalks above the ground but just barely. They all are being very cautious, all except for one segment of the springtime population, the bugs.
Why is it that the bugs will make themselves known even in the most tenuous kinds of weather? I think they feel the need to assert their dominance and do so at the mere presence of a slightly warmer sun. Bees, hornets, flies, gnats – how do they just all of a sudden appear out of nowhere and right off the bat make dive bombs on human beings? Or at least on one human being, me. I think bugs are like dogs in a way. They know if you fear or disdain them and it’s at that point they consciously decide you will be the recipient of their all-out focus. This is my fate. But I guess I should have realized that years ago when I fought the war of the cockroaches. It was a long bloody battle and one I hope I will never fight again.
One of the first buildings my husband bought in Chicago before we were married was a three flat with a coach house in the rear. It needed work but my husband’s hobby was remolding buildings. He got if for a steal at the time and he was anxious to move in. Of course we would live in the coach house and rent out the three apartments in the front building. I worked late on the day he closed on the building but he wanted to show me the coach house right away so after work my friend Jim and I met him to look at the new digs. The coach house had a ground floor entrance to the basement and a stairway to the first floor. We decided to go in the basement entrance. The light switch was in the middle of the room so Jim and I waited in darkness until my husband turned it on. The second the light went on we knew something was strange. The floor was moving. It was then we realized we were standing in the middle of a cockroach carpet. We were infested.
Up to that point, cockroaches were only something I had heard about. My mother was a neat freak, our house was always immaculate. I didn’t even know what a cockroach looked like until that very moment. And this was where we were going to live? No way. “No worries,” my husband said. “I’ll call in an exterminator and we’ll get rid of them before we move in”. Ok, that works for me. And in my naiveté I believed him. The exterminator came, the deed was done and it was finally time to move. I should have known I was in for big trouble on moving day as I warmed the pot of chili on the stove and this little brown bug with these nasty tentacles waltzed out from behind the pot. A cockroach. Ok, I thought, probably just one last die hard who escaped the hands of the exterminator. No need to worry. There would be no more.
The next day my husband left on a business trip and I was left alone in our new home with our new puppy. Time to unpack. First things first – get dressed and start organizing the kitchen. I opened the drawer to get a pair of underwear and who should be nestled in one of my panties, a cockroach. I screamed but only the dog could here me. Oh, this is not right. I thought we had gotten rid of them. I got my bearings and went to the bathroom. After relieving myself I pulled on the roll of toilet paper and who pops out, another cockroach. I was beside myself. How can I live this way until my husband gets home? The cockroaches must have decided to cut me some slack because I did not see another one until my husband got home the next day. I was still edgy since I felt we had not seen the last of them but decided to tough it out until he got home. After all, where was I going to go with the puppy. The day he got home I remember sitting in the kitchen with the puppy, jumpy and on edge, looking for any sign of those dreadful bugs.
All of a sudden I head a scratching noise and I looked down just in time to see a mouse scurry across the floor and run behind the refrigerator the puppy in hot pursuit. That’s it! I doomed to a life of dealing with abominable creatures. What did I do to deserve this? My husband got an earful the moment he walked in the door.
But take heart, the story does have a happy ending. Yes we finally got rid of the cockroaches but we had to tear down a wall in the basement to dismantle their main nest and peel away the wallpaper in the kitchen where they were building another one. And my friend Jean, who was not afraid of cockroaches God bless her, came to the rescue by putting powder along the baseboards of our cabinets so that if any of them did survive they’d bring the poison back to where they were trying to reestablish themselves. When we sealed off the foundation of the house we no longer had to deal with mice. In the interim, we got a cat and never saw a mouse upstairs again. All in all we eventually got rid of the pests. It did take some time and it was not fun.
So, with this auspicious introduction into the world of bugs I shouldn’t be surprised that when I sit on my deck and the bugs of Spring seek me out and try to torture me. They know I am powerless to get rid of them and their mission is to avenge the lives of their fallen compatriots. They are like elephants, they never forget. I’ve accepted the fact that I am doomed but I still want Spring to come. If I have to deal with bugs to have Spring then so be it. Let the games begin!