Periplaneta australasiae: Warfare Strategies of an Unfamiliar Wife

As you may well know by now, our family has traversed the globe and landed in the island nation of Indonesia, thereby finding ourselves on the (very) distant outskirts of Nottingham. Though more shall certainly follow regarding the migration itself, today I limit myself to a singular event of our first evening.

Unable to sleep on that first night, wife found herself downstairs migrating in a sleep-like daze toward the kitchen, most definitely compelled instinctually by her womanly genetics and ontic state to wash some dishes, weave, or some similar lady-task. As a native Oregonian (and perhaps for said female disposition), she was ill-prepared for what would meet when the execrable compact fluorescent bulb eventually flickered to life: a sepia-shaded, prickle-legged, crêpe-paper-winged Australian cockroach— Der Kakerlak.

Why couldn’t the land down under gift us with an infestation of some less repulsive nocturnal pest— like koalas? Imagine the same scenario: you’ve wandered into the kitchen at night, observe the distinct sound of scurrying, and flick on the lights only to find a fuzzy koala mama and baby in the sink snacking on your dinner scraps. You laugh pleasantly out loud, maybe scratch mama’s head, and then go look for a sandal to smash them.

Return to the present and the scenario in which wife has found herself. Despite Leonard Nimoy’s protestations otherwise, logic is not a factor in such a situation. All coherent thought and rationality disappear simultaneously with the encounter. The insect must die, or it will certainly murder you. Accompanied by a series cockatiel-like shrieks (maybe closer to Skeksis), wife, as a trepidatious Xena type, took hold of the nearest object— a small cutting board— and swung for dear life with her tiny, bird bone arms. With the creature out of sight under the implement, wife made a mistake that belied her inexperience. Most Floridians and southeasterners generally follow Zombieland rule #2 when it comes to roaches: the double-tap. Or, more correctly, swing erratically, forcefully, and repeatedly until you see the object of your ire has given up the ghost— and then strike it 17 more times for a good measure and your time. Contact MUST feel solid and level, and you MUST hear and feel that distinctive (satisfying) crunch of a ruptured exoskeleton.

Wife’s post-impact, split-second of satisfaction vanished as her nemesis scurried further along the kitchen counter. A wise kung fu master, wife reached for another weapon, in this case a plastic KFC bucket— a gift from the international office at my university. With a quick shift of plan from death to entrapment, perhaps with an eventual plan to domesticate and house it as a pet (we would name him Sibellius), she brought the open side down over the six-legged fiend. This would have worked (?) had she not underestimated its life-preserving speed and only captured a few of its legs. Husband asleep and roach squirming in desperation, wife returned to violent tactics and suddenly became a surgeon with a wooden spoon. She brought the utensil down with such precision and force that we are still finding roach splatter in various rooms of the house.

Satisfied, yet nerves shattered, wife eventually stumbled out of the main kitchen into our “dirty kitchen.” Light switch on, her peripheral vision told her she was not alone. Her head snapped in the direction of some movement and settled on a single gecko near the ceiling. Already worn out from the previous engagement, Bethany could only involuntarily shout, “Daniel!”— perhaps as some sort of Christian profanity, or as an appeal for aid from the biblical saint— and faint.

Thus I found things when I awoke in the morning: A cockroach in the sink turned on to its back in the telltale sign of its expiration. Wife was unconscious on the floor of the dirty kitchen, surrounded by reptile scat, and mumbling, “Hi-ya!”


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lori Reznick on July 20, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Well friartalbert, I must say that was a most amusing story! Knowing “wife” though, I strongly question your claims that she actually fainted lol. I imagine she found a semi-comfortable location to fall asleep after her 24-hour trip and having taken care of her three, um two, children 😉 – Lori Reznick (your kinda-sorta-usedtobe-neighbor).


  2. I remember being surprised by seeing Geckos nearby in simple open-air bare bones rooms in the Philippines & finding it odd until I learned they die mostly on mosquitoes. Now I welcome then. In the jungles of Colombia years ago I learned to survive 4″ cockroaches while speaking, trusting my stalwart interpreter to remove, throw to floor, squash w/ foot in an exotic dance that gave rise to “La Cucaracha” without missing a word or beat of presentation. God bless you all. Have fun times.


  3. Forgive me for being scientific, but I’m 95% sure what you’re describing is what we in Australia call an “American cockroach”…


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