Friday, April 23, 2010

A Rude Awakening Part 2: The Startling

I greeted the cockroach I found toe up in my kitchen sink on Wednesday morning with surprising equanimity. I was feeding MiniMe and there it was, long back legs moving to and fro, antennae waving, tiny head cocked inquisitively.

Had it gotten tired of running and pushed itself over to contemplate its life before it died? Dead palmetto bugs have got to always be toe up for a reason. Or was this a cockroach in the prime of health, thwarted by the slick stainless steel, taking a breather from its struggles to get out of the sink?

As I sprayed it with Lemon Scented Death and watched it flail, I marveled at my inner calm. I hadn’t been prepared – and I’ve been bracing myself to see a palmetto bug when I enter a room since 1998 – when I flicked the light on, and yet I didn’t start. I didn’t feel a crawling sensation in my guts. Every hair on my head and arms didn’t feel like they were moving. I swept it into a paper towel and tossed it into the trash, wondering if I’d finally gotten over this irrational fear and revulsion.

Then this morning, it was time to make my morning coffee.

At home, I brew with a French press. You boil water, pour it over coarse, precisely measured coffee grounds, let it soak for four minutes, then press a plunger which pushes all the grounds to the bottom. It’s the truest method for brewing there is, allowing the flavorful coffee oils to be part of the cup and bringing out the true richness of the blend. If you have less than stellar coffee – like this chicory stuff I brought back from NOLO which is delicious in a drip coffeemaker – all the warts will show.

Once I’ve poured boiling water over the coffee, I leave the lid on my teapot ajar. This allows the water to evaporate so that steam doesn’t condense on the inside of the lid and drip back down inside, leaving a layer of stale water on the bottom which mixes with fresh water next time I make a cup. I’ve been leaving the lid ajar for twelve years. I won’t be doing it anymore.

Five am (okay, 5:45am; I snoozed, sue me), mug filled with water as a measurement, I remove the lid from my teapot, and...

It’s nine am. I’ve skipped breakfast and worked on two pieces, I’m wearing an extra-tight hat, and my skin still won’t stop crawling.

At this point, I feel like I’m living in one of those bad horror films. Actually, not even. I’m living in the mock version.

“I…am…so…startled,” Randy keeps telling his hand-held camera in South Park’s Blair Witch meets Cloverfield meets giant guinea pigs episode “Pandemic Two: The Startling.” In a Saturday Night Live digital short, Andy Samberg pops up in the bathroom mirror and behind the bathroom door and the shower curtain over and over, cue a screeching string instrument and sharp intake of breath each time.

The ultimate is “Don’t,” one of the fake previews created for the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez double-feature Grindhouse. “If you...are thinking...of opening...this...door,” Will Arnett’s voiceover growls, “Don’t.”

For me it's, if you are thinking of opening this teapot … if you are thinking of reading this book, if you are thinking of taking a shower . . . don’t.

Welcome to the Treehouse.


  1. You big wimp.......

    Call Cleo to drive over and give you a hug and a slap.......


  2. I also can't wait for 'A Rude Awakening3 - The Squeakwell'

  3. Man oh man, Alistair, there was this one night when it got down to the 40's. The pitter-patter of padded feet in the crawlspace above was all you could hear.

    I'm amazed Becky returned after that.