We interrupt this program…

When we bought this house, the previous owners submitted a disclosure through their realtor which assured the buyer, among other things, that the house was not subject to insect infestation. I am unsure what definition of “insect” the previous owners had in mind. We have enjoyed the Parade of Ants Festival every spring in our kitchen. We have battled gnats and houseflies, wasps and moths, crickets and cockroaches. In addition to insects, we have also hosted spiders—including a tarantula in the garage and a black widow by the water heater—and scorpions—four individual visits within a dry twelve-month period. This time of year especially the insects creep in from outdoors to avoid the falling temperatures.

We resist as well as we can. We try to keep the house clean, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, not allowing too much dust to accumulate in the corners and under furniture. For cockroaches, we purchase those lovely poison bait boxes. They crawl into the boxes, eat the poison, then leave again to die some time later in some dark and distant corner.

Unfortunately, this year my Mr. Coffee machine has become the corner where poisoned cockroaches go to die.

Today was not the first time I found a dead cockroach in the coffeemaker. This time it was right at the top, clearly visible when I took out the basket to make coffee. I unplugged the coffeemaker and shook the dead insect into the garbage; then I inspected the inside more carefully and saw a second dead cockroach wedged into the drain. It required the tip of the breadknife to dislodge that roach. Then I rinsed the coffeemaker thoroughly, three times, successfully removing a third dead insect with the first rinsing. All that time I am coughing and gagging. I have a strong gag reflex, one that is closely linked to my imagination, so I cannot deal with dead insects near my food supply without making a lot of disgusting noises.

[Cultural reference #1: while cleaning out the coffeemaker this morning, I continually made the kind of noises Malcolm McDowell made while portraying Alex in A Clockwork Orange. For those of you who have not seen this movie, this mention is not a recommendation! But those who have seen the movie will understand when I say that, for me, the most revolting scene in the movie is when the parole officer drinks from the glass containing Mum’s teeth. Even typing a description of that scene, I cannot stop my stomach from churning.]

[Cultural reference #2: when dealing with dead cockroaches, my family and I tend to make jokes about Gregor, the main character in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. I do recommend that book to anyone who has not read it. However, this morning, alone in the kitchen, I made no Gregor jokes.]

 I respect insects and their place in the environment. Unfortunately, the place of cockroaches is not in Mr. Coffee. Mr. Coffee does his job just fine without the help of insects. If I want to add protein to my diet, a slice of bacon will do just as well. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled programming, already in progress. J.