As I check in at Honolulu airport, I think about the live cockroach trapped inside my bag. Neither myself nor the cockroach are happy with the situation.
Several hours earlier I’d been on a cruise ship, having just finished a week of shows there, and was hastily packing my suitcase before the airport shuttle arrived. The final unpacked item was a mesh bag of socks and underwear. I threw it into the suitcase. As it landed, a large cockroach, clearly having taken up residence in the past 24 hours and now startled by the sudden jolt, rushed out of the mesh bag and into the depths of the suitcase.
Over the years I’ve discovered that I’m only freaked out by insects above a certain body mass. If it’s smaller than a dime, it’s adorable. If it’s larger than a quarter, it’s goddamn terrifying. This one was well into half-dollar territory, and I reacted proportionately.
Having nowhere near enough time to unpack the bag, find a flamethrower, and deal with the cockroach accordingly, I zipped up the bag – extremely securely – thus deferring the problem until an indeterminate later date. Close proximity to the roach was fine, so long as I was in no danger of making contact with it.
In the drama of the multiple-hour journey from ship to airport, I completely forgot about the cockroach. At the airport however, going through customs, I noticed a large sign showing the vast number of different insects, worms, plants, and other living organisms that you should absolutely under no circumstances bring from Hawaii into the Continental USA.
I thought about saying something to the officials, but A) roaches weren’t on the list, B) I had no idea how to explain the situation, and C) experiences with airport security made me fear the nightmarishly surreal conversation that would likely ensue. The bag passed through the x-ray machine with its additional passenger undetected.
I’m now sitting in the departure lounge. My bag is on the plane. In about ten hours I’ll be back in my apartment in LA, and will have to make some choices. Specifically, to either:
- Drop the entire bag into an industrial incinerator.
- Wait three to five thousand years for the roach to die of natural causes.
- Actually open the bag and deal with it like an adult human being.
I’m still deciding.