Little creatures

15 04 2005

Some people, buy cialis rx returning to their NY apartments after a 14-day slog and slouch along a dusty road a’travelin’, cialis generic unhealthy will be greeted by slobbering dogs (or families); snooty, look yet mewling cats; or the endlessly ‘ahh-ing’ maws of goldfish trying to place the face.

What greets me? Can’t you guess? Remember, the Noodle life mosaic has many cracked tiles. It’s not going to be anything…pleasant.

It goes down like this. I get off my flight from Sydney at JFK and immediately shuffle down low in the back of a cab. We crawl and heave through peak-hour traffic. Bridges and tunnels. Trucks and buses. Horns, stereos, ‘hey buddies’, and middle-finger salutes.

All is fine, thus far.

As we sneak back into Manhattan, I exchange ‘long flight’ stories with my Pakistani cab driver, and we chorus the complaints of cattle-class travelers the world over. I hear my knees sigh and relax into non-economy class positions.

Thus far, all is fine.

Upon exiting the cab, I haul my two bags up the five flights to my apartment. Huffin’ and a’heavin’. Why did I buy so many packets of Tim Tams? Boy, if they weigh this much outside my body…. My hips begin to calculate the impending damage. Finally, my aching arms pull the last suitcase to the top of my landing and I pause.

All is fine. Thus far.

Flinging the front door open, my instinct squeals like a little girl, “Don’t look down!”

I look down.

No dog. No cat. Just a giant (and very dead), cockroach, his right leg frozen in mid-air and waving a rather jaunty ‘welcome home’. It appears he died relaxed—judging by the casually crossed hind legs and peaceful repose. But he may just have been reading the paper with his feet up on an imaginary ottoman before I arrived. Who knows what they do in their downtime?

I stare at him awhile; brain cells consulting other brain cells.

“Well, hullo,” I say, finally.

I am repulsed, yet accepting. For I know my apartment—though it may creak, and moan, and spit a cockroach in my eye when it finds me neglectful—bears me no real malice. I take it on board. Accept it. Move on.

Giving it a wide berth, I shuffle all my flotsam inside and then flick the jetsam i.e. the cockroach, out onto the landing.

Little creatures. Over the past 14 days in Australia, they’ve been a common thread. On that first night back at the not-quite farm (I’ll explain that in a bit), I was awoken by a buzzing RIGHT IN MY EAR. Damn mosquitoes. Wouldn’t let me be. I eventually had to sleep with a sheet over my head, breathing in my own carbon dioxide and doing my brain no good. Paranoia. It’s a new hobby of mine.

Next morning, I strolled to the bathroom to wash my face. Splash. I look into the mirror and see five red and angry lumps—nose, forehead (x2), cheek and chin. The thought of a mosquito proboscis buried deep in my skin sickens me.

Why the sudden interest in my blood? Is it now so enriched by American decadence and capitalism that mosquitoes need to elbow each other out of the way to get it?

I didn’t particularly want to complain about the bites, because my Mum would feel bad that I’d trekked all this way only to be attacked in her home. So I didn’t want to complain. But some part of my sneaky brain had other ideas. I didn’t even have time to say “Good morning,” to her before the complaint punched my tact brain cell in the solar plexus and ran breathlessly out. Complain, moan, complain, grumble. Poor baby. Don’t you feel sorry for me?

The complaints were effective though. My mother sprang into action. From that day forth, mosquitoes cowering behind picture frames and under beds were disposed of efficiently before I sought slumber. Do I care that I have become such a wus?

And then there were the other little creatures. Green ants, the threat of March flies (but it’s April?), spiders, and the like. Then those night owls that aren’t owls. Little scratching sounds in the dark. Down on the floor, I think. Maybe up in the ceiling? Or tap-dancing on the corrugated iron roof? What the hell is making that sound? Possums? Kangaroos? Quokkas?

Lying in the dark, nothing to focus my eyes upon, my paranoiac brain takes over. I imagine beasts the size of small motorcars, throwing crack parties and whoppin’ it up. Pointy teeth, snarling mouths. Tattooed delinquents. Yes, definitely some kind of party. A mixer. Spontaneous marsupial rave perhaps, with obligatory police bust around 3am?

I probably shouldn’t be talking about this. It’s possible that if I continue this train of thought, my Mum won’t invite me home again. And if by chance she does, there’s no way there’ll be pie.


My parents have been living in a cottage right next door to the farm I grew up on. Regular readers will be puzzled. Wasn’t the farm sold? Well, yes. And yet, it remains part of my life. Long story short, the sale fell through. My childhood crucible remains in the family! The Noodle birthright—a tract of land, a patch of Aussie dirt—lives on. Know anyone who’d be interested in 2,500 thousand acres of scrub in the wild unknown country?

Since I rambled an about its majesty so much last time, I’m not going to talk about it this time. It’s a story best told in pictures anyway. And besides, it’s a memory just for me. Mine. Something for my brain to own and replay during moments of solitude.

But you can have the Cliffs Notes version. My trip was peaceful. Serene. A total decompress. The weather fantastic. The friends, cheery and tanned. Me, forehead sunburnt in the first half-hour sitting on the beach at Bronte, eating fresh fish and chips. Life—grand.

Now I’m back in New York with nothing but memories and a secret smile. The taste of Mum’s Pavlova still on my tongue.

After, again.
Standing sudsy in the shower about two hours after landing, I blink shampoo out of my eye and catch a glimpse of something. Very long cockroach antennae. Sticking out of a hole in the wall where a pipe disappears. Two antennae. It’s all I can see from here. Just two antennae hinting at the promise of the exoskeleton to come.

This is ridiculous! Was there a cockroach revolt while I was away? Did they storm the Noodle castle because they knew I was away in the colonies, a whole equator between us? Guess I’ll never know.

I wait.

Is he coming out of there or not?

Later, I tiptoe over to peak at him more closely. His pipe-perch is high, so I have to crane my neck to see. He’s just sitting there. If I were an optimist, I’d say he was ‘half in’ and not coming out. But today I’m a pessimist and that joker is ‘half out’. Poised to put his dirty “I walk in excrement everyday” mitts on everything I own. I watch him for a while. He doesn’t move.

I retreat to the bedroom to ponder removal/scare tactics. I need some plan of action to get him out without having him jump on my face. Of my top five fears, a cockroach on the face sits pretty at number four. And how bad is this fear? Let me put it this way. If infomercials included the following threat “Call now, or we’ll drop by and throw live cockroaches on your face”, I’d have a room filled with Ab-rollers, Wunder Mops, and Bo-flex machines by now.

I go back and eyeball him again. Get closer. He hasn’t moved. I realize now it’s because he’s dead. He’s died in the wall, half in, half out. I ask again—what the hell went on while I was away? Dead giants everywhere. My apartment, overrun by coked-out cockroaches, all overdosing and dying scrawny, hollow, empty-shell deaths.

Just then, a flapping shadow passes by my window. A chill. My number one fear—a shiver of a thing that dribbles down my chin and on to the front of my shirt—runs a quick-flick in my imagination. I gotta get rid of the image.

Fasten your seatbelt—your brain is about to experience a sudden gear change.

A primer.

The following field guide provides a practical lesson in ‘Roaching’ i.e. how to deal with situational roach encounters*. The Top 5 phobias as rated by callers to our Roach-a-phobia hotline (1-800-ROACHY) are addressed in this convenient pamphlet, but a more comprehensive tome is available at your local library. Consult the card index under ‘I ain’t a’scared o’ no Roach’, by Enoch Delaquoix, Random House, 1973.

* In our attempt to provide sensible and direct action, this guide takes into account the overblown paranoia of the modern-day human brought on by too much viewing of the television program ‘24′ It also suggests, where necessary, some kind of sedative and a good lie down if it all becomes too much**.
** Though if one is going to have a ‘good lie down’, one should not think about the No.2 phobia as mentioned in this leaflet.

No. 5
What is it?

The fear of cockroaches eating off your toothbrush during the night (because you saw it once in a documentary); you using said toothbrush the next morning then getting a nasty disease and dying from it.

What should I do?
Discontinue tooth-brushing regimen immediately. While waiting to surrender all teeth to cavities—rotting and falling out will occur naturally due to lack of dental hygiene, or have them pulled by a dentist if the wait is too long—invent self-cleaning false teeth. Make a prototype for yourself, then sell the patent and move to Antarctica where cockroaches only go for a dare.

No. 4
What is it?

The fear of cockroaches flying into/landing on your face as you’re dawdling about in your apartment, minding your own business and programming your TiVo wishlist.

What should I do?
Invent a face mask of fine gauze that doesn’t look too silly and has the support of a nifty ad campaign like the iPod. Sell the patent and move to Antarctica where cockroaches are too busy eating their Huskies for survival and can’t be bothered flying into your face.

No. 3
What is it?

The fear of looking down at the contents of your beef burrito and finding the roasted red pepper skin you just spat out, ’cause it felt a little weird in your mouth, is actually the outer casing of a cockroach.

What should I do?
Rush to the toilet. Vomit. Think about it again. Hey, you just ate a cockroach! Vomit. You chewed it, tasted it. It played pat-a-cake with your tongue! Vomit. If at all possible, stop trying to think about eating it so you can stop the almost-heaves. Start a blog called ‘Roach-a-Ritoville’ and slander the offending restaurant mercilessly. Vomit. Accept that you probably have a disease now and write a song to solicit money to pay for your medical expenses. Blog the experience. Collect royalties. Move to Antarctica where cockroaches can’t find burritos to hang around in because authentic tortillas are hard to find down there.

No. 2
What is it?

The fear of a cockroach crawling inside your mouth to lovingly lick the dangly thing in the back of your throat while you’re sleeping. It’s not your fault you’re a mouth-wide-open snorer. Anyway, this triggers the gag reflex leading to you swallow the roach live. Follow up fear: the roach is resistant to your stomach acid; you feel it swimming laps in there for the rest of your life.

What should I do?
Well, duh! Stop sleeping! Invent surgical procedure to install lip-friendly snap rivets to seal your lips for the night. Sell patent and move to Antarctica. Snuggle up to a sexy scientist who snores. Any cockroaches tricked into moving to the South Pole on a dare will be attracted to his mouth first, leaving you free to once again sleep in peace. As a precaution, keep lip-friendly snap rivets handy.

No. 1
(aka the ‘Ratpigeonroach’)
What is it?

The fear of Mother Nature throwing a party and slipping evolution a Rohypnol. Evolution wakes up with a groggy head and fuzzy tongue, cries “What have I done!”, and stares at what stands before it. A NY rat, NY pigeon, and NY cockroach have evolved into one creature—a Ratpigeonroach. It boasts the worst features of all in one package. One night as you stumble to the bathroom in the dark, it leaps out from behind the radiator and sticks a shiv in your thigh. As you lay stunned on the floor, a cloud of disease envelops you. Rat paws clutch your collar, gaping cockroach mandibles nibble at your throat, and a mite-y pigeon armpit closes over your mouth to muffle your screams.

What should I do?
Oh my freakin’ god! Pass out immediately! When you come to, invent some cock-and-bull story about what happened. Take an out-of-focus and way-too-close picture of a dead cockroach, doctor it in Photoshop, and sell it to the National Enquirer with the angle: “I had Ratpiegeonroach’s love child”. Collect big check. Move to Antarctica. Read lots of books about krill. Try not to think about the possible next evolutionary step: the Krillpenguinroach.

Sweet dreams!

Toodle-Noo. Here endeth the missive.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

©Janeen McCrae 2005



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