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I've worked for a big multi-national, lived abroad for several years, travelled a lot, now in politics. Married once but separated; no kids. Generally utilitarian except for minority rights.


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OCTOBER 28, 2012 11:47AM

Summer in Club Cockroach

Rate: 17 Flag

          Something frivolous for Sunday, inspired by Margaret Feike’s recent post here.

           It didn’t take us long to come up with that name.  It was the mid-70s, school term was ending and for the summer I was resigned to living in the dorm with meals in the dining hall.  But a couple of guys at the dorm who I knew sort of well had rented a flat above a store in a convenient downtown neighborhood.  They were looking for a third and it was cheap.  We looked at the place one afternoon and while it was kind of shabby, it was spacious and hell, we were students and expected to rough it.  The floors were uneven, a couple of walls were slightly buckled, the appliances looked to be decades old and the gas stove came with a sign:  DO NOT MOVE!  BOOM!


They Only Come Out At Night


          As we found out.  On the very first evening Walter, one of the roomies, went to get something from the kitchen.  I heard a cry and was afraid he’d moved the stove.  When I got there he said he’d seen a bug.  Big deal I thought.  What’s one bug?  We looked around; saw nothing more and that seemed to be that.  Later on, I went to get a beer.  When I turned on the light I saw a couple of them scurrying.  “Walter” I hollered, “We’ve got cockroaches.”  I was able to corner one and crushed it.  I figured, wrongly, that I’d scared off the other.  But no.  He must have gone off to round up reinforcements.




          The rest of the summer we fell into a routine.  We never saw them anywhere but the kitchen and then only at night, mostly.  One exception came when I was chopping up some veggies for a salad.  One scampered across the counter and by reflex I took a chop at it.  A lucky swipe – I perfectly bisected it.  But by the time I came back with a paper towel for burial, the front half had recovered and almost made its escape.  Hardy little buggers.  Another time Walter caught one in the bathroom and flushed it down.  An hour or so later he was back and saw it soaked, bedraggled and crawling up the side of the toilet bowl.  “And boy did it look pissed!”

          While we really hated the wee beasties, we didn’t get psyched out by them.  As I mentioned, we were students and took a proletariat sort of pride in the down and out life, if only for a few months.  Not that we showed them mercy.  We put up Kill Charts and the weekly winner (top scores were around 20) got a free beer.  And in honor of Paul Simon who had a hit with 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, we composed 50 Ways to Kill Your Cockroach.



The problem’s all inside your walls she said to me
Just view the situation lethally
I’d like to help but they repel me, still you see
There must be fifty ways
To kill your cockroach
Fifty ways to kill your cockroach

Crush them to bits, Fritz
Make ‘em feel pain, Wayne
No need to be shy, Cy
Just listen to me
Make their wounds throb, Bob
Write out their will, Bill
Tear them apart, Bart
It’s easy you see.

Butcher its brain, Zane
Reduce them to jelly, Shelley
Melt them to glue, Lew
With a-la-cri-ty
Expose them to germs, Sherm
Inject them with freon, Leon
Get out the Raid, Wade

Pull off each limb, Jim
Bisect their shell, Mel
Shorten their days, Blaze
It’s fun and it’s free
Make ‘em get sick, Dick
Ig-nite their wick, Mick
Poke with a stick, Vic

Consume them in fire, Myer
Run out their luck, Chuck
Don’t be their pal, Hal
They’re nothing to me
E-rase their face, Grace
Comport like a wraith, Faith
Get out the rope, Hope
This ain’t charity

Hit them again, Len
Don’t let them say “when”, Glen
Reduce them by ten, Ben
Knock ‘em out of the park, Mark
With your deadliest bat, Matt
Long into the night, Dwight

Move in for the kill, Will
Give them their fill, Gil
Poison their pill, Phil
Before they can flee
Reduce them in rank, Frank
Shred all their files, Myles
Pink slip one and all, Saul
And charge them a fee

Make sure they’re gone, John
Vaporize all, Paul
Don’t let them gorge, George
Do not let them be
Don’t call for a truce, Bruce
Get on with the war, Thor
Unleash the attack, Mac
And do it with glee

Get out the gun, son
Along with the knife, wife
Show ‘em you’re bad, Dad
Induce their glum, Mum
Get them to go, bro
Drown ‘em in piss, sis
Oops! Vulgarity

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OK, that’s only 48 but it’s about 40 more than Simon enumerated. Perhaps OSers can come up with a couple.
I like your idea of Kill Charts! Of course, you all were on the Honor System! Soldiers, All! R
Love your variations, worthy of Rhymin' Simon's original. Good to have the roach hotel days in the past, isn't it?
There's always the Cosmo article saying to buy an iguana, Fauna.
Let 'em see black, Jack.
No need to be carnal, Arnold ... sorry, that's just Arnold ...
Give 'm your heel, Neil.
Throw a grenade, Sinead, set yourself free.
Very clever, Abrawang; hilarious! R
That was great. Really.
Smash them to death, Seth
Blast them with gas, Cass
Ship 'em to Duluth, Ruth
Just keep them away from me.

All I can say is - awesome twist on the Paul Simon lyrics. The post itself sickens me although the picture made it much worse. I must have had a much more aggressive species than you did, Abra. Mine (I hate calling them that) were rude inconsiderate things. And big, too. Maybe they'd been around obnoxious college students too long. I opened a desk drawer once and there was a giant one, spinning around on its back. I chased one in my closet as it hopped from hanger to hanger. I couldn't spray it because I didn't want to wreck my clothes and it seemed to know that; it got away. There they'd be on the kitchen wall in broad daylight. Or you'd turn on a light at night, and they wouldn't even run, they'd just sit there.

I'm getting queasy at the memory.
If you could have only fit Ringo in the second to last verse!

I've had these filthy fuckers dive bomb off the ceiling on me when I went to the refridge at night, when I turned on the light, the light freaking them apparently.
We'd.. it was a group effort there, would herd them into the sink and wash them down.
Thanks for the memories.
jmac – Those critters really know how to evoke disgust, right?

Marilyn – You didn’t have to cheat to pad the numbers. Some of our guests even asked for a column on the chart.

Lucy – Nice to hear from you again. If I ever found myself in like circumstances again I’d get a professional exterminator.

just phyllis – Brilliant. I’d forgotten about the iguana solution. Kind of like how in parts of India you get a mongoose to keep the cobras at bay.

Kim – don’t stop there man. You’re on a serious roll. When you’re living in their midst it’s easy to get morbidly inspired.

Thoth & kosh – Thanks very much. I’d almost forgotten about it till I saw Margaret’s post.

Speaking of the devil Ms Feike, the daytime variety would be worse still. Ours weren’t big but on our kibbutz in Israel I saw them up to 4 inches. And they could fly. A friend of mine was stationed in Papua New Guinea and she said one of them ate half her birth control pill.

tr ig – yeah, the light freaks them out. I haven’t seen the dive bomber variety so between you and Margaret I’m thinking ours were fairly docile. And poor Ringo. Well, he'll just have to settle for being the world's luckiest drummer.
If only more cockroaches would eat birth control pills!

Those four inch Israeli ones? Wonder if same as the southern USA "palmetto bug" which flies, around that length... scary if inside at your spot, and don't leave cigarettes laying out, because they shred the paper off and eat the tobacco, which may or may not have a birth control effect. These things need researched.
I still resent Keith Richards being paralleled with the damned roach.
Itch, yuck, such a great piece of writing.
Sic them with a dingo, Ringo.

I'm surprised Kim didn't rhyme the name "Penel."
Great adaptation of a classic song. In my neck of the swamp, we just learn to coexist with the Palmetto bugs, or ride them to work.R
tr ig – I think the palmetto is a different species though equally intimidating. As for Keith, while it’s hardly flattering to be grouped with cockroaches, he’s survived much worse.

Mary & JW – thanks very much. It must be like how you get great prisoner journals from those who have been incarcerated.

Margaret – Bullseye for the Ringo line. Make ‘em scream aargh! Marg.
Like yours even more than Paul's!
Impel them to flee, Lea.
[r] HAH!

So well SANG, ABRAWANG!!! ouch. okay, I tried but couldn't get the verb tense right -- so well sung, Abrawung?

And the pic is such an added "treat"! and the "boom" stuff especially cracked me up!

This is such a hoooooot, so glad I caught it! best, libby
Glad you enjoyed it Libby. We had fun putting it together in a gallows humor sort of way. A bit of vicarious violence I guess.
Under similar collegial circumstances, I first became acquainted with crabs -- left there by the some or all of the four women who previously occupied the apartment.
Crabs! Yecchh!! I hope you found them before they found you. This calls for the bomb, Tom.
Actually, my roommate found them covering the shower curtain while he was taking a shower, and he had to end up shaving his entire body.
I've roughed it in plenty of other ways, but you handled the little cucarachas better than I would have. Touché on the perfect bisection.

The lyrics are hilarious and inventive, and while "Inject them with freon, Leon" may be my favourite, I was disappointed that Ringo was absent in the second-to-last verse.
Yikes. Missed some comments thanks to OS’s new no-email policy.

Tom – Little did he know that years later that look would be fashionable in some quarters.

Various – Yeah, Ringo stumped us. Had we only seen A Cry in the Dark back then.