I hate cockroaches.  HATE them.  Nothing is more loathsome in the bug family than a mutant-sized water roach with giant wings and a kamikaze’s sense of purpose.  Those suckers will not only fly at you, they’ll fly at your face.

Saturday, before Tokyo was hit by a freakishly intense thunderstorm, a roach somehow found its way into the foyer of our apartment.  I saw it just as I was about to take my flip flops out of the shoe closet.  There it sat, motionless, blending into the hardwood floor.  Remember how Sigourney Weaver acted when she realized the alien had boarded the escape hatch with her in the movie, Alien?  Well, that was me on Saturday.

I called out my partner’s name.  I must have a there-is-a-bug-you-need-to-kill way of saying his name in these situations because as soon as he heard me, he said, “Where’s the bug?”

I gave him the roll of Bounty, opened the bathroom door, lifted the toilet lid, walked towards our bedroom and said, “Flush it.”

Once I heard the toilet flush, I said, “You see?  I do need you for a few things.”

That’s not to say I wouldn’t have killed the roach on my own if my partner were not around.  OK, I might not have.  It would depend on the size of the roach.  Thankfully, we so rarely get bugs that I’m not often confronted with the task of dispatching bugs to insect heaven.  But God help them when I do.

You see, while most people kill bugs by squashing them with brooms, shoes or magazines, I kill bugs the way Saddam Hussein or a criminally insane child would, by squirting or pouring household cleaners on them (we don’t own bug spray), or by lighting them on fire with a lighter.  If the chemicals don’t do the trick, the fire definitely will.  And let me tell you that most bugs can withstand a shit load of Windex.  I might as well waterboard the damn thing.  I feel just awful during their torture and then afterwards when I have to flush their crispy remains down the toilet.  If I were more of a “man” I would just squish them.  They wouldn’t even know what hit them.  But no.  I have to get all Jeffrey Dahmer on their ass.  At least I don’t eat them.

I blame my mom.  She made a big production out of killing cockroaches.  And why not?  We lived in South Texas where the cockroaches are as big as New York sewer rats, flying New York sewer rats.  Inevitably, my mom found them in the morning, when she was in her housecoat and slippers.  First she’d scream and run to wherever I was to tell me she had just seen the biggest cockroach in her life.  Then she’d slip on the pair of the winter leather boots she bought each season but never wore, put on a pair of gardening gloves, grab the broom, the dustbin and head out to kill the critter.  Blood-curdling screams and the sound of things crashing and breaking would ensue followed by a detailed story of the kill, “And then, just when I thought it was really dead, it started to try to get away again.”