Dec 5, 201207:32 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Carl the Cockroach
This is a stock photo because I was too scared to take a photo of the real cockroach.
I am not happy about this, New Orleans.
While I have found stores, restaurants and coffee shops I love in this city, I recently encountered something I do not like: cockroaches. I learned last week that humans and cockroaches have to coexist in New Orleans, but I am still grossed out by this.
It all started when I wandered into my bathroom on Tuesday evening to take a bath. I was leaning to turn the water on when I heard a scratching sound. It was kind of loud and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from.
Was it something outside?
No, it sounded too close.
Was it the dog?
No, she was sleeping.
Was it our upstairs neighbors?
No, they only blast over-played pop songs.
Not finding my answer, I continued to look around the bathroom. I couldn’t find anything making that noise. Then I looked up.
“EWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!” I screamed.
There was the cockroach sticking its little legs out through the bathroom vent. It seemed to be trying to get out, but it was too big for the little holes. I had never seen a cockroach this close to my face. It was GROSS.
“Ewww, ewww, eww!!!” I kept screaming.
“What’s wrong?” I could hear Chris yell from the other room. He had been sleeping, but apparently I woke him up with my fear of a cockroach attack.
“There’s a COCKROACH!!!” I yelled.
Chris ran in the bathroom, then looked at where I was pointing. “Oh that's not a big deal,” he said.
At this point I was standing outside the bathroom, watching the cockroach reach out his legs, then his antennae, then his head. It was disgusting. I did not want that cockroach anywhere near our bathroom, so Chris humored me and began swatting the cockroach with a newspaper. That didn’t work because the cockroach could use the plastic of the vent as a shield to protect him. We needed another strategy, so I went to the closet to get the pet odor spray—it seemed like a good idea at the time, maybe not now as I write this—and we sprayed the vent, hoping the spray would poison the cockroach.
It didn’t. The cockroach continued to stick his legs out. He would stop for a little bit, then come back. It was like he was teasing me.
“Well I think we just need to leave it,” Chris said after our spraying and swatting failed. He continued to reiterate that cockroaches are normal for New Orleans, and that our apartment complex has a good bug man—although not good enough, in my opinion—who comes every month to spray. Even with the spraying, he said, cockroaches are a “fact of life” in New Orleans, and it’s something we have to get used to.
I’ve obviously lived a very sheltered life because Carl the Cockroach, as I’m calling him now, was the first cockroach I’ve ever seen. In other places I’ve lived, having a cockroach in your apartment means your apartment is dirty. When you would hear that someone saw a cockroach in their house or apartment, you would look at that person like, “That’s disgusting. I’m judging you.”
The cockroach sighting continued to haunt my thoughts all weekend. On Sunday night, I decided to share my terrifying cockroach experience with some friends who have lived in New Orleans much longer than I have. They laughed at me. “You’ve only seen one cockroach?” they said. “Wait until June and July.”
Why June and July? Apparently cockroaches love “warm, most environments,” according to this helpful factsheet, which makes sense why they would love New Orleans. I’m guessing the cockroaches are the only New Orleans residents who don’t complain about the heat and humidity in the summer.
So I guess Carl the Cockroach and I have to coexist, but I’m still weirded out by this revelation. I don’t know when I will see Carl and his friends next, but it will most likely happen again. Next time I see a cockroach, I’ll think twice before screaming, but I can’t promise I’m going to like it.