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.