I know I’ve told you before about how really, the biggest adjustment for me in moving south was the seriousness of the bugs around here. The insects in Georgia are just not screwing around, man, they are here to REPRESENT. As such, having a Bug Guy is—to my mind, anyway, and those of any sane people with whom I’ve spoken—just not optional ’round here. Having a maid is optional. Having curbside trash pick-up is optional (if you don’t mind driving to the dump). Having a company that will keep creepy germ-encrusted twitchy exoskeletons filled with SQUICK out of your house is NOT OPTIONAL.
Bug Guys typically come and treat the house once a quarter. Then, if you have some sort of problem, they’ll come back and retreat as many time as is necessary, but once a quarter pretty well keeps things under control. EXCEPT. I learned early on that the week after the Bug Guy comes, it’s inevitable that a few bug sightings are going to happen—the poison drives ’em out of the crevices and sometimes IN rather than OUT.
But that doesn’t make it any less disgusting.
So a few evenings ago, I sauntered into my bathroom, not a care in the world, as I am wont to do. I believe my pants were halfway down when I happened to glance at the far wall and spotted a palmetto bug roughly the length of my PALM.
[For those of you who are new here, and/or for whom the appellation “palmetto bug” is unfamiliar, allow me to clarify: a palmetto bug is a BIG-ASS COCKROACH, and they flourish here in the south. We call them palmetto bugs because that’s the proper southern way to pretend we don’t live in a state infested by cockroaches.]
I pretty much SHOT out of the bathroom, pulling my pants back up as I ran, and started calling for Otto. My tone of voice sent him running, probably expecting to find me bleeding out at the kitchen counter or something (“It’s only a flesh wound!”), so he was almost (not quite) relieved when I told him I needed him to kill a bug for me.
Armed with the tools of annihilation (a spray bottle of 409 and some paper towels), Otto bravely entered my bathroom, ready to do battle. I came in long enough to point out the offender and then retreated.
After a minute, I heard a lot of banging around. That seemed like a bad sign, so, wanting to wish a happier resolution into existence, I called out, “Did you kill it?”
“No,” called back Otto. “It, um, went into your bin, here.”
We’ve now lived in this house for three years, so naturally my bathroom still has a giant Rubbermaid tub filled with miscellaneous objects sitting in the corner. Ahem. And the palmetto bug? Dove into the bin. Otto was now rummaging through it, and the bug was (he said) “burrowing deeper and deeper” as he looked.
“Fine, I can throw away everything in the bin, but if you don’t find the bug, I CAN NEVER USE MY BATHROOM AGAIN,” I offered, ever helpful.
After another minute or two, Otto decided that the logical course of action would be to take the entire bin out onto the porch. I agreed that that was a great idea. Otto asked me to get the door for him. So he came along with the bin full of stuff and ONE MONSTER FACE-EATING BUG, and I tried to stop dancing with horror long enough to open the porch door.
Of course, we’d forgotten that palmetto bugs like to hang out on the porch after dark, so I opened the door and said “Go!” and Otto went out and set the bin down, and I stood there waiting to see what he would do next, and he said, “THEY’RE EVERYWHERE! SHUT THE DOOR!” and I slammed the door shut and briefly considered locking it. But I would not put it past those fuckers to have little lock-pick sets, quite frankly.
Eventually Otto returned with my bin, swearing that our unwanted visitor had flown away, and I made him promise that no other bugs hopped in, and I put the bin back in my bathroom. But I have been using the bathroom in my office a lot more, lately. Not because I’m scared or anything, you understand, just because it’s easier to pee when you’re not concerned that you’re about to have your face sucked off.
Otto laughed at me for quite a while, and tried to rationalize various crazytalk like “you could kill it yourself, you know” and such, but whatever. I reminded him that killing bugs is totally in his contract, and he said he knows. This somehow evolved into a discussion, last night, about the various things we do for each other, and (as always) lead to my feeling like he does many things for me and the kids and I, unfortunately, do not bring a whole lot to the table. This conversation wrapped up with me brightly assuring him, “But that’s okay, because what I lack in general personableness and organization I make up for with… ummm… extreme neediness and general neuroses!”
I am a very lucky woman, married to a saintly and patient man.