August 2007

A Pariplaneta American Rant

Author: As told to Paul deVere

The following are excerpts from an interview conducted by the author early (2:07 a.m.) one morning a few days ago. The interview was inspired by the reaction of the good folks at Lowe’s, who were removing a doddering 1976 dishwasher the previous day from the author’s kitchen. The reaction both looked and sounded something like:

“AGGGGGGGG!”

The “AGGGGGGGG!” was quickly followed by emotional responses from the author’s wife, dogs, cat and fish (One should note that to get a fish to scream is rather challenging.) when everyone (but the fish) came running to see what all the “AGGGGGGGG-ing” was about. The Lowe’s personnel refused to install the author’s new 2007 super, 14-function “dish sanitation solution” until the cavity left by the old 1976 (“they don’t make them like they used to”) dishwasher was “decontaminated.” Anyway, it was almost 5 p.m. and installers had to quit for the day.

Granted, no one, including the author, his wife nor progeny nor previous residents had cleaned “under” the 1976 dishwasher since, well, 1976 (one would have had to remove the dishwasher to accomplish that task). Hence, the opportunity for 31 generations of a certain Arthropod to live, learn, love, breed and die under the dishwasher, presented itself (a damp, dark, never disturbed place). Seeing all those good-sized, dark brown Arthropods (probably several hundred) scurry back into the nooks and crannies of the author’s kitchen cabinets was, even to him, somewhat disconcerting.

Which is the reason the author found himself on the kitchen floor at two in the morning, wondering what made this insect so formidable. The following are excerpts from an extraordinarily long interview with the largest of the Arthropods, which is now the basis for the 12-part PBS docudrama, “I, Cockroach,” premiering this fall.

(Note: The author’s questions to the bug have been removed for brevity’s sake.)

Light sensitivity. Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Why do we run when someone introduces light? Our scientists have beat their brains out trying to produce a remedy. But since we only live for about 3 years (tops!), it’s tough to build any kind of database that could determine cause and effect. By the time we set up any meaningful clinical trials, half the participants are dead, either due to old age or this irrepressible urge by humans to squash us! So far, all we’ve been able to figure out is that we run from light because:
1. We are genetically predisposed to photophobia
2. We have an extraordinary fear of the sole of a Nike tennis shoe hurtling through space, aimed directly at us.

Issues. Oh, we do have issues. For example, what is the state insect of South Carolina, the PALMETTO state? It’s the Carolina Mantid! Hello? Don’t you think the PALMETTO BUG should have the honor? Oh, no. We just get squashed! How do you think that makes us feel? Politicians are so vapid. They lack integrity, courage—in a word, “guts!” Not one of them has a problem seeing our “guts” plastered all over the kitchen floor, right? Is this fair? What has a Praying Mantis done for you lately?

On the other hand, we do something for you EVERY day. Like those scraps of moldy food that find their way into your bedroom closet. Who takes care of that, huh? Or how about the 31 years of gunk that accumulated under your dishwasher? You’re going to clean that out? Hardly. Is that cute little Mantis going to do the job? No, it’s up to us! And what thanks do we get? Someone yelling “AGGGGGGGG!” How do you think that makes us feel? How do you think that affects our children’s self image?

And license plates. You’ve got one for “Secular Humanists” for pity’s sake. What about us? We have no religious, philosophical, political, moral or “hidden” agenda. We’re totally transparent (well, translucent), predictable and undemanding. How about, “South Carolina, the Palmetto Bug’s Home State?” You’d sell a million.

Sensitivity. Right, Mr. (Ms.) Sensitivity. Do you realize, given our lifespan, I have 24 days to make sure junior can learn to read? Twenty-four days! We have approximately six days to debate the existence of God with our approximately 150 teens before: 1. They get squashed! 2. They go off to some ashram in search of some decaying food. 3. They get zapped by that infamous “ant & roach” spray.

And speaking “ant & roach,” how did we get linked up with those little buggers? I mean, they have no personality, no sense of humor, and they all look alike.

Respect. Now there’s a word we seldom hear! We are the Rodney Dangerfields of the bug world. So we leave a little mess wherever we hang out. Nobody’s perfect. But we have our pride. Remember the first “Creepshow?” Remember E.G. Marshall’s fantastic performance? WE made that happen, not Stephen King’s stupid script. WE did it! Or how about “Joe’s Apartment?” We kind of saved the day there, right?. Or last year, in “Heroes.” My cousin Betty was in two episodes.

We’re always accused of spreading germs around. What, we’re supposed to keep them for ourselves? See what I mean, no resp …..

(Note: At this exact point in the Palmetto Bug’s monologue, the author inadvertently dropped his note pad on the floor which proved fatal to the interviewee. He is survived by his wife and several thousand sons and daughters.)

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