I recently had an epiphany.
I am an etymologist (or bug specialist). And if you’re a fellow New Yorker, you probably are, too. Unfortunately, we specialize in cockroaches. The German cockroach, to be exact.
Yeah. I know.
How’d I come to this dastardly realization? It’s all my long-distance friend’s fault. Though she is not a New Yorker, she’s also no stranger to big cities. So why did she send me an email the other day with COCKROACH as the subject? In the body she wrote, “I just saw my first cockroach. Luckily he was already dead.”
I’d like to mention here and now that I hate and fear cockroaches. There’s a longish story behind that which I won’t get into. Anywho...
So this particular friend and I often share our insect woes, which usually center around silverfish and spiders and cats who don’t kill either silverfish or spiders right away. Trust me, you’ve never squealed about bugs until you’ve done it live via instant messenger. I’m just sayin’. So her sending me the email about the dead roach actually wasn’t very strange. In fact, I smiled and was quite amused. (Yes, these are the kinds of friends I have. You see why I love them.)
That alone, however, did not reveal my special “ability.” Oh no. Anyone can commiserate with a friend. It’s when, later on, that friend asks your opinion regarding whether she should get the exterminator, and you follow up with clarifying questions that you know something is up.
“Was it a German cockroach or an American cockroach, aka water-bug?” I asked.
“That's hard to say,” was the reply. “I originally saw it going towards my tea, so clearly it has some British heritage somewhere. But then it hid between ketchup and tomato soup in a can, so... that's pretty American. What's the difference?”
“German cockroaches are the small common buggers that plague NY. The ones in Joe's Apartment (movie). American cockroaches, aka water-bugs, are ginormous.”
“Oh, then it was German.”
See how neatly I narrowed down the options. But wait, we're not quite through: “Okay, well considering the time of year, it may have just been passing through. Was it an adult (about half inch to an inch long and dark brown) or was it a juvenile (smaller, lighter, narrow) or a baby (black, yellow stripe, roundish)?”
Do you see that? Do you see that?! I’m not quote info I’ve gotten off Wikipedia, or picked up from some foul Nat Geo special. This is first hand knowledge. I know the life stages of a roach the way other people know the life stages of dogs and cats! And I gathered this information from observation—fearful, cringing observation, but whatevs. Dude, I could have been one of the panel of experts on my made up, really disgusting Nat Geo special!
And I bet I’m not the only one, ‘cause it’s one thing NYers have in common it’s the roaches. It doesn’t matter how fancy your digs are, they’re all situated over the same rat and roach infested tunnels, and every now and then either one or the other makes it into everyone’s otherwise pristine domain.
So, yeah. I’m a specialist. In cockroaches.
Yippee aye yo ki yay.