Monday, August 1

The kitchen sink can kill you

I almost never do dishes. You might be tempted to guess that this happens because I'm such an awesome cook, and Jason demonstrates his gratitude by cleaning up the kitchen every night after I ransack it.

WOW, that's really nice of you to guess that, you flatterer you. But I'm afraid the real reason is much darker; much more treacherous, and foreboding, and every other adjective for the word "sinister." I've seen what that sink and its shadowy cabinets below are capable of. I've seen what they can do... to a brave little beetle named Alazar.

This story takes place one painfully sleep-deprived night before a final presentation.

In architecture school, when you ask someone for the time, they don't say, "Ten-fifteen," or "Eight thirty-five," or even "Noon." They look deep into your soul with their darkened, hollow eyes, and robotically murmur something like, "86 hours 'til." 86 hours, that is, until the end of the world as they've come to know it. 86 hours until their 10-week-long project is due.

On this particular night, it was 3 AM, and I was horrified to find myself at FIVE HOURS 'til. I'd gotten one hour of sleep the night before, and only three the last few nights before that. I was frantic. The design was great, but now everything had dissolved into a frenzied flurry of trying to trace all my final drawings onto a large posterboard.

I'd laid out the final poster onto the largest flat surface in our apartment: the kitchen floor. I was flinging pens, running back-and-forth to the printer, and trying not to cry (not a pride thing, I just didn't want to smudge the ink.)

At around this Five Hours 'Til landmark, I felt my brain starting to lose its grip on reality. You know when you're lying in bed, halfway asleep, and you're vaguely aware of the random-ass chaos your subconscious is churning through? I had those spinning, echoey, nonsense thoughts racing through my head even though my eyes were open-- like somebody flipping through TV channels.
Stacy, can't you see, you're just not the girl for meee

Outside, beyond the vaguely schizophrenic goings-on within my own head, my apartment was undergoing its own strange transformation. It was time for the Bug Parade.

I didn't think much of the first few little creatures that crawled across my poster. But they kept coming. And coming. Soon, there were consistently at least five insects skittering across my poster at any given moment, and I was full-on tripping out like Dumbo during that weird, drug-induced "Pink Elephants" interlude.

At "Three hours 'til" (5 AM), out lumbered The King of All The Bugs. His name was Alazar, and he was a monstrous, gleaming black beetle. He was so large that each step he took made a scratching noise on my poster paper. I was so sleep-and-Bug-Parade-stoned that his bumbling gate easily hypnotized my weakened mind; I hummed my version of "Stacy's Mom" to him and smiled admiringly at his majestic waddle.

Then he majestically waddled across the section of the poster I needed to finish, and slapped me back into reality.

"Sorry, Your Highness, you've got to go for a little ride now," I apologized, and blew at him as hard as I could.

He bounced and skittered loudly across the kitchen floor, and came to a halt below the counters under the kitchen sink. His life was about to change forever.

Within milliseconds of skidding to a stop, THE BIGGEST BLACK WIDOW I'D EVER SEEEEEEEN pounced onto Alazar, King of All The Bugs. I shrieked.

The two of them blurred into a tangle of creepy black legs as I sat, frozen in shock. One of them started making a loud clicking noise, presumably Alazar's battlecry, and I sprung into action. I sprinted into the bathroom.

Once there, I froze with the realization that I had no idea why I'd gone to the bathroom. I looked around. Somewhere in my mind, I thought a can of hairspray was a great idea.

It wasn't.

I blasted the SH*T out of our leggy friends with hairspray, and the spray separated the two bewildered bugs a few inches from each other. I grabbed the longest stick I could find (a yardstick-- thank youuu, architecture supplies close at hand), and contemplated the spider's fate.

I don't like killing things, but Venomous Vicky had to move on to the afterlife that night. Too many small children lived nearby, and I had a grim responsibility to perform. I smooshed her giant creepy body flat onto the floor, whispering "sorrysorrysorry I'mreallysorryVicky OHGOD sorrysorrysorry." Possibly the creepiest I've ever looked/sounded in my whole life, right there.

I turned my attention to Alazar. He was in a horrifyingly disgraceful state, considering his royal ranking: the sticky hairspray had attached every last thing nearby to his body, and a ruthless combination of hairs and carpet fibers had wrapped his legs tightly to his body.

Oh, the guilt.

I grabbed a piece of paper, and tried to scootch him onto it with a pencil. Being the Vicious Warrior King that he was, he grabbed the pencil with his giant beetle-y chompers and held fast. I now had a pencil with an accidentally straight-jacketed King of All The Bugs hanging from the end of it.

With another pencil, I tried to pry the fibers off of his body. They didn't budge. In fact, if I pulled any harder I was sure that I'd rip his body off of his pencil-clamping jaws.

I had to give him a bath.

I took him to the bathroom sink, and held him under the faucet. I resumed my creepy habit of whispering "sorrysorrysorrysorry YourMajestyKingAlazar sorrysorryOHGOD sorrysorry" as I tried to gently pull off his ill-fitting sweater. It wasn't working.

But this dude knew what was UP. He wasn't King of All The Bugs for nothing, amigos. He began, meticulously, this motion that I can only describe as "petting himself" underneath the tangled fibers. And slowly, it seemed that they were loosening.

I acknowledged my inferiority in bug-freeing, set him in the bottom of the sink, and left to resume my architecture work. Ten minutes later, I returned to the bathroom to check on Alazar's progress.

At the bottom of the sink was an abandoned cocoon of maroon carpet fibers, and Alazar was triumphantly trying to sprint up the slippery sink walls.

YEAH F*** YEAH, ALAZAR. Ten minutes HAS to be some kind of hairspray-and-carpet-sweater world record. I was effing PROUD. WHAT A LITTLE STUDMUFFIN.

I offered him the pencil and he wisely (?) clamped on again. I took him back into the kitchen and put him underneath the refrigerator to recover in peace and dignity.

Oh, the adrenaline. I finished my poster in the remaining 2 hours like a champ. When Jason woke up, I proudly recounted The Tale of Alazar, King of Beetles.

He looked at my bloodshot, dilated eyes. He looked down at the fridge. He looked up.

"You... didn't put him outside?"

"JASON E. MATTHEWS. This poor tormented creature was just going for his innocent nightly stroll when he got tossed about in a windstorm, attacked by Venomous Vicky, sprayed down with foul, sticky, burning, suffocating toxins, wrapped up in a straightjacket, WATERBOARDED, and trapped in a frictionless pit. We shall harbor His Highness in our food-scrap-abounding, comfortably-heated apartment for the rest of his little life. HE IS A SURVIVOR.

"Also... you might want to wear boots, or squat on a chair, from now on when you wash the dishes... when *you* wash the dishes. Vicky's relatives want revenge against me."


And that's why I don't really like doing dishes anymore.


Caitlin said...

Hahahaha this was amazing, and the drawings made it 80x more amazing if that was possible. I loved everything about this story though I do not think I commiserate with caring about bugs...beetles scare the sh!t out of me far more than spiders do, haha.

The Woven Moments said...

This is ridiculously AWESOME and well-written.

I think I'll start telling time like you did back in school.

What time is it?

7 hours 'til daycare pick up.

KG said...

Great story! And I love the Princess Bride reference.

You're so kind to bugs! I probably just would've flung him outside and hoped for the best.

April said...

@Caitlin-- glad you like my silly doodles : ) & yes, beetles are super creepy, but just looking at a black widow makes me want to get a mile away from it. Blehhhh.

@Ryan-- try it. You get stuff DONE like never before ; )

@KG- Honestly, the thought never even crossed my mind until Jason asked why I'd left him inside. (Then I went on that sleep-deprived tirade as if I'd thought it all through... heh)

Laura said...

Laughing out loud does not even begin to describe me. So funny!


Kelley @ Kelley Maria said...

What do I even say in response to this phenomenal story with fantastic illustrations? The suspense had my eyes glued to the computer screen, eagerly reading on like a good Nancy Drew mystery book. I laughed too. Lots. The illustrations really enhanced the story - truly great work April! I am proud of you for having the optimism to try and save Alazar...I probably would have given up hope as he was tangled in hair spray. What an amazing little creature. I don't blame you for no longer washing dishes...

Jessica said...

Even better than the suspense had me built up for...:) I've read this post twice (last night) and had to come back again to get a refill. Go Alazar!!!

Jeff said...

That was an amazing story. King Alazar is very lucky that he lives in your home. My wife would have immediately ordered his execution.

Kristie said...

WTF. I cannot even handle this. You are amazing.
I'm impressed by your bravery-- and your ability to kill Vicky without hurting Alazar-- at that level of sleep deprivation. I would probably have just started bawling.

Kristie said...

Oh and I definitely witnessed the midnight bug brigade the other night... except in Florida, it's comprised entirely of cockroaches. Who then proceed to curl up and die in the middle of the floor by morning.

Karin said...

Haha, what an amazing and hilarious story XD Long live King Alazar! Remarkable that he survived the hairspray and the bath. You're a much better person than me, I probably would've sprayed them both a second time and flushed them down the toilet... ^_^;

Nanoinfinity said...



Black... widows... *shudder*

We don't get dangerous critters around here. I think I'll forever avoid moving further south for fear of black widows living in my cupboards.

In my house.

I don't mind beetles and flies and stuff (except the earwigs) as long as they are not threatening to my person.

That's just so insulting. "I'm a small, dangerous creature and there's nothing you can do to keep me out. Muahaha!"

Sam said...

Oh Aprily Anne! This was a fantastic tale, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I have not experienced that level of sleep deprivation before, but I came quite close during the last days of Info Hell. I remember that Lauren had to walk to me to the bus stop so that I could turn in my project because I couldn't remember how to get there on my own, and then I wondered around South Eugene for like two hours after I had turned my project in because I couldn't find my house in my sleep walk haze.

The worst feeling in the world is when you hear the sound of birds chirping to inform you that it is now morning time, and you look at the clock and realize that you haven't slept yet, and you have 3 hours and several pages to go. You also have to get this bad boy to FedEx/Kinkos for printing and binding. Yuck!

So glad you survived architecture. I know I ain't got nothin' on the architecture kiddos, so all I can do is bow to you and thank the good, sweet Lord that you made it through without dying. I am also quite glad that you did not get bitten by that black widow because those dudes and dudettes mean business. I almost sat on one once, but I had that strange feeling you get when things are not quite right, and I happened to look down and notice what was up in time to avoid a dangerous spider/butt interface.

Thanks again for the delightful tale. You are not officially responsible for writing/illustrating my unborn children's bedtime stories.

<3 Samanth

Sam said...

By not, I definitely meant NOW! What a terrible typo.

La said...

LMAO! I am sitting at my desk at work, both hands clamped over my mouth trying to stifle my laughter with tears rolling down my face. This killed me:

"This poor tormented creature was just going for his innocent nightly stroll when he got tossed about in a windstorm, attacked by Venomous Vicky, sprayed down with foul, sticky, burning, suffocating toxins, wrapped up in a straightjacket, WATERBOARDED, and trapped in a frictionless pit. We shall harbor His Highness in our food-scrap-abounding, comfortably-heated apartment for the rest of his little life. HE IS A SURVIVOR."


Alazar and Vicky are both very lucky to have wandered into your place. I live in Texas. We kill everything that moves here. With guns. ESPECIALLY if it can kill you.

I found your blog via 20sb and I will definitely be back!