Sunday, May 13, 2007


insects have their own point of view about civilization a man thinks he amounts to a great deal but to a flea or a mosquito a human being is merely something good to eat

archy (the cockroach)

From certain maxims of archy

By Don Marquis


My first experience with cockroaches occurred during the summer that I lived in Boston.

I don't recall ever seeing one cockroach in Colorado.

Plenty of ants and spiders, but no cockroaches.

In Boston (the summer of 1968) I rented an apartment on Symphony Road.

At one end of Symphony Road was Symphony Hall---home of the Boston Pops.

At the other end was the apartment from which Art Linkletter's daughter died after she jumped out of a window (while she was under the influence of LSD.)

My Boston apartment was austere and empty.

I had a mattress on the bedroom floor.

The kitchen had a refrigerator, stove and sink.

I also had a small radio.

One night a couple of cockroaches scurried across the floor.

I jumped up from my mattress, but then laid back down.



One cockroach took a bite out of my neck and ran away.

I immediately pictured my body transforming into a cockroach.

Luckily, nothing happened.

I didn't get sick or anything.

And after this one encounter with roaches I didn't see any more while living in Boston that summer.

In 1979 I moved to Guam to teach high school English.

This beautiful and humid island has a lot of cockroaches.

My trailor was filled with cockroaches.

Big ones.

But I rarely saw them.

They were terrified of my vacuum sweeper.

If I saw any cockroaches, I quickly got out my vacuum sweeper and sucked them up.

When I moved I found a lot of egg casings in book boxes that I had stored in my trailor.

My neighbor, a native of Guam, had little cockroaches crawling everywhere.

On one visit I saw them crawling in and out of a plastic bag containing a loaf of sliced bread.

These other island natives didn't even phase my neighbor.

One summer on Guam I decided to house sit a home to make some extra money.

I did very little except sleep and feed two boonie dogs that lived at the back of the house.

One of them was vicious, but the other one was friendly.

I could get close to him.

I noticed that he was full of ticks.

I took him to a vet to have them removed.

He was even friendlier after that.

(Dogs show more gratitude than humans.)

I slept on the living floor in this house.

Most nights cockroaches were having races across the rug where I was sleeping.

I have no idea why (or where) they were racing to.

But some of them would run over my body and keep going wherever they were going.

They took off some days (I think it was on weekends. Maybe they were barbecuing at the beach.)

I remember one day (before I went to Guam but after I lived in Boston) when I was in Texas.

I think it was Amarillo.

I was asking a man at a gas station for directions.

A big cockroach was strolling across the floor.

The gas attendant quickly squashed the cockroach with his boot heel and didn't miss a beat giving me directions.

A cockroach can hold his breath for 45 minutes and go without food for a month.

But such amazing facts do not stop humans from detesting and killing them.

I suppose I have a different perspective on cockroaches because of my personal experiences with them.

I've read that cockroaches could one day be one of our main sources of food.

But even that's going a bit too far for me.


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