Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lessons I've Learned, Part 5

Beware the horror lurking in your microwave

This edition of Lessons I've Learned will shock you, if only for the fact that, unlike my previous Lessons, it does not involve copious alcohol consumption.

For a period of time in college, I lived with 4 guys. Yeah, I know--that's a recipe for disaster. Of course, I knew they'd be slobs, since, well, they were guys--but naivete prevented me from understanding or predicting the unbelievable extent to which their slobdom would spiral. How can men live like that? These normal-looking, well-behaved, reasonably attractive guys blithely strolled from room to room in our cute little off-campus dwelling, kicking litter hither and yon as they went, sidestepping piles of clothing, stacks of dishes, and food items that had fossilized weeks before. I had two choices: To become Snow White to their 4 Dwarfs, thanklessly cleaning up after them day in and day out, or to stubbornly ignore it, hoping beyond common sense that they'd eventually muster up enough pride to tidy up after themselves. I knew it was the longest shot conceivable, but I'm an optimist, so I chose the latter. Who knew--perhaps eventually they'd grow ashamed of the filth, and each would start to pick up after himself just enough that the house would begin to exist in a general state of, if not cleanliness, then at least acceptable clutter.

This shows how dumb I was.

Time went by and the filth reached epic proportions. I can tolerate constant disarray, if I must, but what I can't tolerate are cockroaches. I can't stand insects of any kind, but roaches are an unspeakable horror. I cannot sleep if I've seen one in my home. I will perch in a crouching position on the center of my bed, holding a shoe in one hand and a can of Raid in the other, head swiveling from side to side, on the alert for anything that might resemble scurrying. I had signed a lease with these zoo animals, and had no place to move to in the middle of the semester, and yet I could not sleep at night if there was even the remotest chance that a roach might amble across the bridge of my nose as I slumbered. And our tiny kitchen was home to, seemingly, about 40% of the US population of roaches. I couldn't move a coffee cup for fear of igniting a storm of activity that would cause me leap 3 feet in the air and shriek like chimpanzee on fire. In fact, once when I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I screeched like banshee when I saw a huge roach sitting comfortably on the bristles of Sid's toothbrush. On the bristles! His big, disgusting body covered the whole head of the toothbrush. This was not an acceptable living situation. I needed a solution.

Here's the best I was able to come up with: I moved into the basement room. The house had four bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs in the basement. I traded with one of my filthy cohorts, who was glad to get an upstairs room. My hope was that my room was far enough removed from the kitchen that the roaches would be too lazy to make the trek, especially considering my room was also scrupulously absent of any food items or even a sweet-smelling, potentially roach-attracting candle or tube of lip gloss. For good measure, I also kept a towel stuffed under my bedroom door to ensure that the crack that an insect might potentially enter through no longer existed. And, for my final display of genius, I kept a can of Raid handy, which I used every single night to spray the entire perimeter of my room before I went to sleep. The nightly inhalation of insecticide fumes lo those many nights may explain some of the questionable things you've read on this site, and which, if you know me, you've heard me say on a regular basis. But far more important than the health of my brain is the fact that I never once saw a roach in my pristine basement hideaway, so my plan worked. But that's not where the lesson comes in. Are you ready for the lesson? I don't think you are, but you wanted something to read today, so basically you're asking for this. You're going to be sorry, though.

Eventually I moved out of that litter box and into a house with my nice, clean boyfriend. I was careful to clean the hell out of everything I owned before bringing it into my new pad, and my boyfriend helped out in this task. As it happened, he was the one who cleaned out the microwave, and he was incredibly thorough, even taking apart the housing so he could get to the fan part. That's where he found the roach graveyard.

A nice little pile of dust had accumulated back there, and it wasn't hard to determine what that dust was made of, when you took note of the fact that there were also the dried husks of roaches in various stages of pre-dustification. Roaches would get in that little fan compartment and die, the heat would dry them out and over time, turn them to dust, and then the little dust particles would presumably FLY AROUND INSIDE MY MICROWAVE while my food heated up! I had often contemplated the security of my microwave from roaches, and considered the inside of that appliance to be a safe zone. After all, bugs can't get in there unless you leave the door open, right? Who the hell would think about them turning to dust and getting sucked up through the f!&*@ing fan? Oh, the cruel, Godless irony--I had been tediously soaking the carpet around the periphery of my room with Raid every night to ward off the roaches who might or might not wish to crawl, relatively harmlessly, about in my room, when in fact, I was even then digesting the roach dust that had coated the pizza I had reaheated and eaten earlier that day! I have been reeling from this revelation for years, my friends.

The lesson? GOD IS CRUEL! No, that's too simple. The lesson is this: Cover every single thing you heat in a microwave. If it's a bowl of soup, put a lid on it. If it's a burrito, put it inside a Tupperware container and put a lid on it. Even if you don't live with 4 of the filthiest jackasses to ever walk the earth, and even if you don't have a roach in your house--there's just no way of knowing what dead things might be, even now, decomposing in the depths of your appliances.

I have to go kill myself now.

34 comments:

Janet said...

Ewwww! GROSS!

leesepea said...

I think I may have roomed with two of the 4 Dwarf-slobs you lived with. Former frat brothers, they were kicked out of the frat house they once lived in because, well, no one could stand how disgusting their room was and forced them to move in order to get rid of the foul and mysterious odor eminating from their room at all times.

I should've known better.

Worse than slobs, they were Stoner Slobs, who couldn't differentiate between the trails of movement light leaves when one's pupils are dilated a little too widely and the scurry of movement a roach will make when you move the item beneath which it was resting.

I whole-heartedly empathize.

I got to the point where I couldn't stand it and moved out before the other two. My name was no where on the lease (despite being called Leese) and, aside from shutting off the phone (which was in my name) and ensuring any non-roach infested item that belonged to me left with me, I did not stick around to see what happened to the apartment, nor the remains of the critters who chose to fill it.

Shudder.

Flashbacks are a real bitch.

CommonWombat said...

I believe the moral of the story would have to be "Apparantly, decomposed insect does not alter the delicious taste of microwaved pizza. Mozzerella Cheese:1, Roaches:0. Mmmmmmmmmm."

CommonWombat said...

That's too long for a moral. Hmm.

I'll work on it and get back to you.

Carolyn said...

Oh, I'm so glad we remodeled our kitchen last summer and got all new appliance. Eewww, I can't stop the hair on the back of my neck from rising at the thought of what our old microwave had!

I , too, lived with three messy guys in my youth. It was only for a month, but that was all I needed. Any thoughts of roommate hook-ups were quickly eliminated when seeing their living habits!

Walker said...

That was gross. I hate roaches and I'm happy never to see one. I had a friend who lived in a room and he would spray the perimeter of the bed with raid and find them piled up dead in the morning. I remember him opening his freezer and the were frozen on the inside.
I walked home drunk one night because I refused to sleep ther with all those creepy crawlers.

Lyvvie said...

I'm gonna shoot my gummy bears up out my nose now!

I think on this one, I'll hgave to choose ignorance.

I ignore this post!!

I love leesepea's underoos!!!

Masked Mom said...

EW, EW, EW, EW....

You have rendered me (practically) speechless & that's no mean feat.

Congratulations. (La cucaracha! La cucaracha! ARGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!)

DeeJay said...

Well, at least you have gotten rid of all of the ick and you are safe now.

I went to pick up a friend of mine when I was a teen, she invited me into the house while she finished up what ever it was she was doing. I stood there in the doorway and got caught looking at the roaches crawling all over the walls while people sat and watched TV in the living room. My (ex) friend reached over, picked one of the roaches up and put it on me. I left, she didn't get a ride.

nita said...

I don't trust microwaves anyway....

I, too, lived with 3 cute boys in college. While we didn't have bug problems because I caved early and cleaned all the time, we often had naked girls in the living room. Often. Often enough that my mother wouldn't come over unless I went downstairs and checked for naked girls before she'd stop by.....fun times. I had to drop out after the first year....

SpaceCase said...

I... words... failing... me... accckkk...

After I pitch my very old and never-had-the-fan-cleaned-out microwave out the window, I'm right behind you in the "must kill myself now" line.

Because... ack.

a fish on a bycicle said...

I'm not sure on the exact figure, but I'm sure that I read somewhere that something like 80% of household dust is made up of discarded, desiccated human skin - so that's a comfort...isn't it?

barkeeper@gmail.com said...

Karla,
Completely Off topic, I know, but did anyone happen to tell you today that you are EXTREMELY good looking ?
x
JJ

- Netherlands

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Did you know cockroaches make a double crunch sound when you bite 'em? Once for when their body is bit, and then the same sound comes out of their mouth just to sweeten the deal. It's real cute. Try it.

undercover celebrity said...

I was just thinking that I was hungry for a little mid-morning snack. Not so much anymore.

Thank God I've never had to live with a boy other than my dad -- he's a pretty clean guy.

I am totally with you in your inability to sleep with bugs in the house. Every night before I go to bed I check under my covers to make sure that a spider or silverfish hasn't been taking a nap in my sheets. So far so good.

Ryan Franklin said...

I don't know what I was thinking designing your site to be semi-cheerful and upbeat, I have been thinking more and more as of late that I should have gone with the black and red goth look? ;)

Christi said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I understand that bugs are known for their exceptional amount of protein. So, at least you were adding a healthy dusting to your food!

I'm so happy to see that I'm not the only one who reacts as you do about roaches. My downstairs neighbor throws his trash on his back porch, and we've been getting the roaches that come to visit lately. I'm about to lose my mind! There was one in my kid's room yesterday while we were playing, and you would have thought that I was trying to get him away from a ticking bomb I was so freaked out!

I found out that roaches can get into microwaves when I was a first-year teacher. In the classroom next door, there were TONS of little tiny roaches all up in the little window where the time was, and whenever you turned it on to microwave something, they would all run around right in that little lit window! I never thought about what happened to them when they died...probably better that I didn't!

CommonWombat said...

Those bugs can keep their f-ing protein. I'm going to try really hard to type the sound i'm making right now, thinking of eating bugs.

BLUUUEEAHCHUHBLUUUUUUEEEEECHAHBLAH!!!

Katya said...

OMG i think i'm getting rid of my microwave as soon as I get home, that is totally GROSS...

*shudder*

:0)

Angie said...

Yuck. I just bought a new microwave. It may come out of the box quicker than anticipated.

the Caitlinator said...

Timely post. My kitchen is pristine but apparently my neighbors, not so much. Now I know how to kill the unwelcome visitors. Nuke 'em!

ben said...

haha, great story =) and not all men are slobs! the fact that I haven't changed clothes in 3 days, and I can't remember the last time I showered doesn't mean anything... nor does the fact that I've found a bag of (at one time) frozen chicken nuggets under my bed that had been there for over 4 weeks...

mrhaney said...

excellent post karla. those little buggers are every where. i use to work at a housing project. they had all kinds of roaches.they love heat. when you have a light swich they love to go inside the box that holds the switch. they also like thermostats. the more a thermostat clicks your heat or air conditioning on the better they like it. ever heard the saying, there every where, there every where.

Judy said...

oh that is so gross!! i'm totally going to inspect my microwave when i get home. yuck!

Kiki said...

OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
I'm much like you in that I hate living in disgusting pig filth and hate hate hate bugs.

I would have killed myself right then and there.

R.A. said...

Thanks for the funky images. I will never enjoy a microwave burrito again.

Ikatron said...

Damn, I thinkg thats all I can really say.

Curator said...

Hehe, yeah we're slobs alright; good story and lesson definitely learned 4U on that one.

a fish on a bycicle said...

thanks for your advice on Charlie, maybe I should hollow his head out like a gourd rather than just deliberately deafen him...

tigger said...

I read somewhere that 9 out of 10 people have had a spider crawl into their mouths while they were asleep.

Just thought I'd mention that.

TinaPoPo said...

oh, sweet lord. I'll never microwave again.

Carrie said...

I'm going to go puke now. GROSSSS!!!

Gerbera Daisy said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW!! This story reminded me of when my sister moved into a house with a roommate. I visited one time and one time only. I said never again. It was disgusting seeing roaches all over the place. I took her and her roommate out to eat because there was NO WAY I was going to eat there!!!

Maja said...

oh goodness, I hate roaches with more passion than anything else I hate in the world.

My mum drilled into me as a child the fact that cockroaches are attracted to food lying around, so the trick is to remove all available foraging materials. I can't believe the slobbiness of some people either... luckily my boyfriend is a clean dream!