Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Room 306 101

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.

God love George Orwell. Such brilliance to personalize hell. Because life isn't tough enough.

I used to think that My Room 101, My Personal Hell, assuming that there is one and that I'm going there - and I've been assured that the weather and company are infinitely better than the alternative - would be an eternity of searching for apartments, packing up boxes, and moving. Preferably in snow, sleet, or a stultifying heatwave. This is a Personal Hell of Classical proportions and ranks, in my estimation, along with having to roll big stones up hills and being denied food and drink ad aeternum.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I've moved a lot in my life. Most of my friends and family justifiably don't even bother entering my address(es) into their address books any more because I'll probably/likely/undoubtedly be moving within 6 months. Some just cover up older addresses in their books with liquid paper, creating a mountain of hardened white stuff that yields a stratigraphy of my life for the archaeologist with too much time on his/her hands.

Moving is again on my mind. Six months in Madrid (Move #424), three weeks in a hotel in La Linea(Move #425) , and then another move on Friday (Move #426). An apartment secured for another 5 or 6 months.

But in spite of the fact that Move #426 looms on the horizon, I have to concede that being forced to move until the cows come home (and then some) might not actually be my Room 101. This was brought home to me last week when, in the wee hours of the morning when I had to take a wee, I encountered 2 cockroaches in my hotel bathroom. They were nonplussed at my presence; I was suicidal.

I hate cockroaches. I really hate them. I verb-stronger-than-hate cockroaches. And I'm a little afraid of them too.

Some people can live with them. I cannot. I had never even seen a roach until I took possession of my 2nd apartment in Toronto (Move #279) only to find that an extended family of cockroaches were inhabiting the oven. Every time I turned on the heat, a gazillion of the little fuckers came pouring out of the sides of the appliance. Eventually some would leave the family fold to take up residence in my toaster. I stopped eating toast.

In every apartment I lived in Toronto, there were roaches. Roaches in the bathroom, in the cupboards, and there was that pair of roaches that spent the night in the fridge, trapped in a hermetically sealed can of cat food, which crawled out no worse for the wear the next morning as I popped the lid. Cockroaches can live up to three months without food, a month without water and are cold intolerant. There is no god. Then there was the documentary on the Discovery Channel I stupidly watched in which roaches were filmed climbing into the cribs of sleeping infants in Florida, where they nibbled on the children's soft and pliant fingernails. After vomiting my grilled cheese, I turned the channel to the 2004 World Snooker Championships. That felt marginally safer.

Then there was a hiatus. No roaches in Halifax and remarkably none in Morocco - although some of my colleagues were plagued by them and squashed palmettos were a common sight on Rabat's sidewalks. And now there is the bathroom of Room 306. My Room 101 where the two inch & a half-long blighters considered me with ill-hidden disdain and didn't even have the courtesy to swing their massive antlers antennae about to register my presence, let alone scatter in the light.

I returned to bed but not to sleep. How could I sleep knowing that there were two cockroaches in the bathroom and another 2,453 procreating within the walls? I got up to make sure that all my possessions were properly zipped up and stood vigil against an assault.

And now, with Move #426 only days away, I have just had a sickening thought. For the first time in almost 20 years, I have viewed and selected an apartment without checking for cockroaches, for their telltale signs in cupboards and drawers. What the hell was I thinking of? Somewhere, perhaps from the hell of his own Room 101, George Orwell is laughing at me. And, sadly, rightly so.

6 comments:

Cath said...

I feel your pain. We have spent the winter trying to coax an extended family of mice out of our attic and walls. Why, after years of rodent-free living we were suddenly visited upon by this plague, is anyone's guess. Cannily laid humane traps were not only avoided but openly mocked. So we finally paid some guy $150 to come in napalm their little asses. I suspect this wouldn't have been necessary if our cat Jack possessed the same killer instincts as his predecessors. Alas, he is suspiciously effeminate . . .
Not that there's anything wrong with that.

monsieur mike said...

I'm onside with you on this. I still remember the time I used 10 tubes of caulking to seal the roaches out of my 350 sq foot tenement apartment in Ottawa. And yes, there was a certain thrill entombing a few within a caulky coffin - no doubt still there.

As for roaches in Maroc, you were lucky, upon going to my Fes house in the medina for the first time I found rather large fuckers hiding in the house that had been empty for 6 months. Not surprising, but nonetgheless uunwanted. And these weren't those smallish German roaches these were big ass ones, 1 by 1.5 to 2 inches. Further these could survive a direct hit of roach spray for several days and still move about. Luckily I am coming to terms with the idea and willingly go into battle with them.

I hope you fare better.

La Gatita Gringa said...

Cath: Does your cat prefer interior design? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

M. Mike: I was lucky in Morocco. I suspect that the building was regularly napalmed in our sleep which would account for my chronic headaches and third nipple.

Cath said...

The kids spray him with perfume and he doesn't seem to mind. 'Nuf said.

Di Mackey said...

A friend worked on an orange grove in Australia. There were these huge-normous spiders there - Huntsmen or Wolf spiders, can't remember. She was young but ... she used to get the insect spray cannister and light the spray, burning the spiders to death.

Not good for her karmic life, and possibly foolish and dangerous in general but she always told that story with a certain degree of satisfaction.

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