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The other day I saw a tweet from Mental Floss’s twitter, boldly stating “Cockroaches wash themselves after being touched by a human” with a picture of a cockroach next to a toothbrush, and no other information. I thought, “huh, wow, that’s interesting and a little bit strange. I didn’t know that the feeling of grossness was mutual between roaches and humans. The more you know.” And moved on with my life.
Then, the next day, I went into my bathroom to take a shower only to find an absolutely SHAMELESS roach pooping freely and BRAZENLY in my tub. He did not scuttle away when I came in, and I watched in shock for at least a whole minute as he continued to produce turds, one after the other, in the place where I go to get clean—where I go to feel safe and secure, no less. I had never felt so disrespected in my life as I did in that moment (and I had a teacher spit on me in high school). That roach had no sense of decency. No sense of dignity. I would have just written it off as a gross roach being a gross roach, but I couldn’t—not after that Mental Floss tweet I had seen. This roach was defecating in MY bathtub, but somehow he’s disgusted by ME? I would NEVER do what he was doing.
So I got rid of the roach and sat down to my computer to do some more research on this topic, because I found it fascinating despite its unpleasantness. Turns out, I couldn’t find any scholarly evidence to prove Mental Floss’s claim that roaches clean themselves after touching humans specifically—which made me feel a little bit better—but I did find that they are “fastidious groomers.” Roaches are constantly cleaning themselves, and they have a very intricate grooming routine—far more involved than mine. This made me feel gross again, because sometimes I forget to shower for four days at a time, while some roach in the corner of my room is constantly cleaning himself AND watching me, AND laughing.
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But then, I found the piece of information that would simultaneously calm me down, while also making me want to throw up: roaches eat everything that they clean off of their bodies. Every piece of dirt, every toxin, everything. And we all know the places where roaches like to spend their time. This activity is akin to a human wading through a landfill, taking a bath, and then drinking the bathwater. Disgusting.
I felt so much better after this whirlwind of information. I felt as though I had won a battle—a battle to restore my honor (the honor that the roach had taken from me when he pooped in my tub). I also felt as though the world had become a little unbalanced with the misleading fact that roaches clean themselves (presumably out of disgust) after touching a human, when in reality, the behavior has quite a different nuance. Much like a Justin Bieber fan might eat a chunk of the singer’s hair after sneaking up behind him and ripping it out, a roach will eat whatever human dirt/essence it finds on its body. That roach in the corner of my room isn’t watching me and laughing, he’s watching me and admiring.