When I was 23 and had just moved out to the Washington, D.C.-area, I was working part-time as an English teacher and loving it, but I had to find a super cheap place to rent because I was making approximately $4 a month.
My new apartment was a very large three-bedroom, two full-bath apartment for less than $1,000 including utilities, and my share of the rent was $325.
Now, obviously I was not as sophisticated then as I am now (pipe down out there, hecklers!), so I didn’t see any red flags because the apartment was so cheap. I was basically fresh off the boat from Missouri and just needed a place to live. My two roommates were about my age and at about the same level of education and background, so it seemed like it was going to be okay.
*I said you need to PIPE DOWN, hecklers!
The first few months were okay. We saw a cockroach or two, but it was a really big building, so it was to be expected. I was kind of grossed out, but it wasn’t too bad yet, and I figured it was just part of living in the big city–except I was actually living in a really cute suburb.
Then the real invasion started.
Eventually, there was absolutely nothing we could do about the roaches in the kitchen. They were everywhere. They were in the dishwasher, in the drawers, in the cabinets, all over the floor, and somehow even in the freezer. We would turn on the kitchen light and they wouldn’t even scatter. They would just sit there and kind of go, “Oh, heeeeeey! Wanna join the par-taaay? Have some roach poison! It doesn’t kill you—it just makes you hiiiiiiigh.”
Cockroaches are kind of d-bags, in case you didn’t know.
I lived there for almost a year and we finally moved out when a roach crawled out from under the couch onto my ankle. I have lived happily cockroach-free since then, about 8 years.
One day mid-September I was cleaning my shower (yes, I was cleaning, Mom) and I saw some movement in the drain, which is pretty large. I actually thought, Is that a crab? Why is there a mini crab in my drain? That’s weird! What am I going to do with that? Silly tropics!
Cue horror-movie music.
The thing started to come out of the drain, and I began to suspect it was not a mini crab.
*DRAWN TO SCALE!
It was the BIGGEST COCKROACH I HAVE EVER SEEN. I am talking megamutantgigantor roach. This roach had clearly been mainlining steroids in an effort to get on a professional sports league in the U.S. and/or become the newest cast member of The Jersey Shore. I ran around the shower for a second, panicked, then ran out of the shower, squealing like a baby and flapping my arms like I was a lame bird getting ready for take off.
I willed my panicked brain to think of some logical solution to this problem. Calling the army in didn’t seem entirely practical and I didn’t have any bug-killing spray, but I finally remembered the spray bleach I had for cleaning.
I ran back into the shower, armed with bleach, and sprayed the hell out of that cockroach, all the while emitting high-pitched noises that I’m too old to even hear. So the roach was dead, but then I had a new problem: how to dispose of the corpse.
I usually don’t mind living alone, but this was one of those times when I actually wanted a guy around. I’m just going to go ahead and hand in my feminism card–nobody needs to come take it from me. Feminism fail! I could have also used my best buddy, Kristin, who, to her dismay, is known for being able to pick up gross bugs and stuff. Where were you in my time of need, Kristin? Just because I chose to move all the way across the world doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there for me when I need you to pick up dead bugs.
I finally just manned up, grabbed about 35 paper towels, and picked up the damned thing from the shower floor, gagging the whole time.
Since then, every time I’ve been in the bathroom has been stressful. First, I have to turn on the light and very slowly peek my head around the corner to be sure there’s nothing crawling around in there (that’s totally true). Then, every time I’m in the shower, I spend the entire time going, Oh my god, what was that on my ankle? Oh, it was water. Showershowershower Oh my god, what was that on my ankle? Oh, it was water. It’s kind of exhausting and I feel like my shower has betrayed me.
I thought—fine, I prayed with all of my heart—that I was never going to see one of those monstrosities again. For a while, my prayers came true. I even got kind of lax with the peeking-my-head-around-the-corner deal, which is of course when disaster (YES, DISASTER) struck. I boldly walked into my bathroom the other day without taking any precautions and there was another megamutantgigantor roach getting some exercise on my shower floor.
If you want to know what happened next, read what I just wrote about Cockroach Numero 1. I’m not very original, what can I say?
Cockroaches: 1,999,000,888,777 Megan: 1,000
Unfortunately, there’s only one of me, but there are about 12 kabillion cockroaches in the world. And I know, I know, I have to deal with them as part of living in the tropics. I get it!
But you know what?
Cockroaches in my apartment: 0 Bottle of spray bleach: 2