I don't believe I had ever seen a cockroach until my early 40's when I moved to LA. There, many of my acquaintance mentioned them casually in conversation. One thing they commented on was that if you moved from an apartment with roaches to one without, the roaches would hitch a ride in one of your cardboard boxes. As I tended to move frequently and still had no idea what they looked like, I lived in terror of this happening.
These were pre-internet days. Today I would just hop online and ask for picture of a cockroach so I could recognize one instead of suspecting innocent beetles. However, this is now and that was then.
And it was LA. I took an evening yoga class in a questionable neighborhood. Class had finished about 7:30 this particular warm, humid, summer night. A male friend offered to walk me to my car, and we chatted lazily as we approached a storm drain near the corner of the block.
Something twitched near the drain. The movement caught my eye and I gasped involuntarily as I got a good look at several eight inch beetles crawling out of the darkness.
"My god! Would you look at that!" I shrieked, pointing and jumping up and down.
My companion remained calm. (He'd been living in LA and doing yoga a lot longer than I had.) "Those? Those are just roaches. They can get pretty big when there's a good food source. Just ignore them."
How do you ignore an eight inch roach? Shades of Kafka. And that joke:
There was a youngish man who really enjoyed a cold one after work. In fact, he often enjoyed 12 to 18 cold ones of an evening. So one night as he sat in his recliner, polishing off number 17 or so – who's counting? – he heard a knock at his door, and opened it. There stood a 6 foot cockroach, which proceeded to demonstrate an excellent right hook. Stunned, the young man watched the roach depart before he managed to pull himself to his feet and close the door. "Wow," he muttered to himself, "maybe I better cut back on the sauce."
So the next evening, when he stopped at the convenience store, he only bought two six packs instead of three. However, about the time he was polishing off number 11, there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, the same roach silently greeted him with a right hook, and then proceeded to pummel him further.
Sore and shaking, the young man staggered to his feet. "I have really GOT to cut back," he said to himself. So the next night he only bought one six pack. But it didn't help. The giant roach showed up just as he was finishing can number 5 and this time, really whaled the tar out of him.
"I need help," thought the young man. "I really need help." So he went to the doctor the next day. He told the doctor his sad tale and waited.
"Hmm," said the doctor. "Yes. I am not too surprised. There is a really nasty bug going around."
Now why is that my favorite joke?