I recently had the unfortunate incident of seeing an exterminator parked outside of the place that I get my monthly massages. I forget the name of the company. But it had that Butler-esque looking guy on top of the truck with a mallet-like thingy in his hand. As if he were going to tenderize some meat at a fancy party that he was catering. Or perhaps the guests were his own and he enjoyed serving his friends in a tux. As if you simply bop the bugs over the head which causes cartoon stars to roll around in their eyes and then they fall to the ground with their legs in the air. And The Butler simply sweeps them up with a little broom. Done!
I thought, “Well maybe they are just parked in front of the building.” And I didn’t even get to the word, “build” when I saw an exterminator, who looked nothing like the Butler on the car, exit his car and enter my massage place! He was carrying not a wooden mallet, but tanks and tanks of poison. Because bugs, let’s not kid ourselves, we are talking about roaches, are insidious. They are hiding when the exterminator gets there. He blasts them with poison and they outrun it. They outrun poison! Nothing gets into their lungs. You can spray a half bottle of Raid right on their little wings and they’re still dancing. Then they scurry into a wall where they meet up with their friends, their pregnant friends with a belly full of hundreds of babies, and warn them. “Run!” And the scatter, further into the walls, and more babies are laid. We are always within twelve inches of a roach, even if we live in Malibu. I just made that up.
I decided that it was probably just a preventative measure, right? I mean I have to get my massages there. I love the people. It’s clean as hell and cheap. I put it out of my mind. Until I found myself in the steam room today, just about to relax against the wet wall when I pictured those “bugs.” What if I leaned back against the wall and it was made entirely of roaches? The wall was the same color. The corner of the steam room began growling as the steam-maker started to do its thing. It rumbles really loudly before it blasts out steam. It makes me feel like I’m onstage with Kiss. I wondered. What if the rumbling is just an army of roaches assembling themselves and rather than steam, they will bust out of the pipes and all over me? I’ll scream and run but the floor will be so wet that I’ll just fall to my death, cracking my head on the stone bench. And the roaches will eat me as I lose consciousness.
When I cheated death and made it out of the steam room alive, I found myself in my little relaxing room with the bed and bowl of wrapped chocolates next to it. I know they are wrapped but what if that is why there are bugs? What if when I pull down the sheet that is nicely tucked under the mattress, I find a family of bugs already tucked in? Where do you think the expression, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” comes from? I mean, I know it doesn’t come from my massage place but you know what I mean!! I decided to just sit quietly on the edge of the bed and wait for my masseuse. No need to muss up the covers!
During my massage, I wondered. What will she do if she sees a roach? She can’t start spraying Raid in the room. She’s not going to step on it. And you don’t exactly smack them away with a magazine. I hope she doesn’t ignore it. She’ll lose site of it and it will end up crawling up my leg. I just know it. I wanted to say, “My neck is a little tight and oh, if you see a roach, let me know so that I can run out and you can kill it. Then you can show me how you killed it without actually showing me the dead bug and we can continue doing the massage in this room. Because I’ll somehow feel like it’s okay, like no way two are going to come out in the same hour, so please don’t transfer rooms.”
She did stop during the massage. I felt her hand leave my back. I don’t know what she was doing but I was too afraid to open my eyes. Turns out she was wiping her nose with a tissue. I think I fell asleep after that. I woke up and she told me to take my time and have a nice day. I jumped off the bed and quickly back into my room where I shook out my clothes to make sure no bugs had crawled up the wall and into them! On the drive home I gave someone the finger who had beeped at me for not turning quickly in front of another car on a green light. Imagine being so tense after a relaxing massage and a full day of bug fantasies!