When you’re 23, starting your first job and paying rent you can barely afford, meal time frequently consists of pasta, PB & J, and ramen. So, when my roommate (who was making less money than me) began coming home from the grocery store with truffle oil, caviar, and other gourmet delicacies, I observed her behavior with curiosity. I wondered: how was she acquiring the funds to make these purchases? Did she take on a second job and not tell me?
I mean, I didn’t mind the extra taste testing opportunities – I credit her with expanding my culinary palate. Her pampered lifestyle was paid for by her by her fairy godmother - of course, how could she starve to death on soup from a can when the gourmet grocery churned up a fresh batch daily?
It wasn’t only food which gave away my roommate’s delicate status – it was an incident one morning when I was in the shower. I heard a tap on the bathroom door, first gently then a banging. My roommate was yelling my name. She cracked open the door to announce her emergency. “What?” I asked, grumpily. “There is a buggie in the hallway!” she said in a seven year old voice, paralyzed with fear. “A what?” I asked for clarification. I thought to myself: what’s a buggie? Clearly, not a horse and buggie. Was she referring to a cockroach? I hadn’t called any creature by such an endearing term since I was child.
“Is it a cockroach?” I blurted out while drying off quickly with a towel. “Um, yes, I think so!” she said in such a pleading voice, I knew she was incapable of killing it. Suddenly, I had been dubbed Super Woman of the apartment. I grumbled under my breath: what had likely attracted the bug in the first place was her gourmet food fetishes because of course roaches didn’t like plebeian ramen.
My hair still sopping wet, I tied my towel tightly, ready for my duel with the cockroach. (side note: did you ever read The Metamorphosis? Ever since discovering it in literature class, I think twice about a bug before I kill it. This couldn’t possibly be a human, I reassured myself, silently). I jumped into my rain boots which were sitting in the hallway. A broom wasn’t in site. I wanted to step on the bug, but did not want bug guts to go through my flip flops. So in my boots, I pranced in slow motion (they were heavy) towards the cockroach like a cheetah stalking its prey. Then, I lunged towards it. As I landed, we heard a crunch.
My roommate and I screamed at the top of our lungs. Shrill, loud shrieks. Later, we wondered why the super didn’t come check on us – we were above his apartment. As I stepped, the roach went flying through the air. Newsflash! I guess NYC roaches have wings? We ducked and screamed again, watching it land in my roommate’s running shoes. Talk about karma. Of all the places to land.
For a solid five minutes we stared at the shoes – no movement. Could the roach be dead? We didn’t want to take the chance so I swept the shoes into a plastic bag, then we double and triple wrapped it with additional bags. The “roach shrine” stayed in our hallway for weeks. When we had visitors, we instructed them to keep their distance. Finally when my roommate announced she would never wear those shoes again, we threw them and the bags down the trash chute.
In the end, it was no big deal – she just bought new shoes, likely with her fairy godmother’s credit card that also purchased the truffle oil and caviar, but not my ramen.