Friday, July 30, 2004

Where angels fear to tread, a cockroach has already crapped

I was feeding coins into the slot to buy my little 55g slice of dessicated coconut dressed up as cherry when I noticed a dead cockroach, inside the machine. The cockroach was inside the machine!

Something about that struck me as, well, worthy of a few hastily-typed words in a scrolling web page that six people will read. Actually blogs are bit like cockroaches: as a group, damn near unkillable, even though dead specimens of each turn up all the time. And unloved. So many unloved blogs and cockroaches. Except for the really popular blogs that get 20 000 visits a day, which are equivalent to, er, those celebrity cockroaches you hear about all the time. The ones you see in Hello magazine, water-skiing off Biarritz with topless babes. Not topless cockroach babes, mind you. Because the very idea is disgusting.

Anyway, this cockroach I saw today was either of the unloved variety or a celeb very much down on his luck. I thought about how he came to die that lonely death inside a vending machine far from home.

I imagine he was nosing about, looking for that big break that all roaches dream of, half a kilo of rotting cheese or a three-movie deal with Salma Hayek, something like that. And he found his way into this huge, throbbing machine that promised nothing but a little warmth. He climbed and he climbed, turned left, turned right, backtracked, crept down passageways without any idea of their end. And then a small opening appeared, an opening he felt good about, a tiny crack into another world. 

This roach peeked through. Aye carumba! El dorado! Santa Maria! (Because naturally a roach that dreams of acting with Salma Hayek has learnt some Spanish over the years) The mother-fucking lode.

Arranged beneath him, as far as the antenna can twitch, is row upon row of tasty treats, any one of which would keep him going for a month. Colours and shapes and smells the like of which he has only experienced in short, twitching dreams. He pushes forward, ready to embrace paradise. Oh Salma, Salma if only you could be here to share this with me. And drops twenty centimetres onto a black metal floor, a thump he barely notices as wonders which glorious feast he should start with.

And it’s then the tiny switch inside his universe flicks from dream to nightmare. He scrabbles over to the giant yellow Apricot and Pecan Muesli Bar with Yoghurt Icing and propels himself into its comely form, waiting for the explosion of sensation and saiety.

But it never comes. A tasteless substance, a rustling, slippery shell coats this Muesli Bar and every other thing inside this machine. As he rushes from bar to biscuit and back again, the fruit of victory become ashes in his mouths, although frankly even some ashes wouldn’t be so bad right now. But nothing, nothing. A gaudy illusion of paradise. A sickening feast of hollowness.

After a while, his mind turns from this place to escape. But he can’t remember how he got in! That vital fact was burnt from his tiny brain by the sun-burst of false promise as he entered.

Oh, nothing, nothing.

And he scrurries until he stops. And he does not move again. As his life slips away, he writhes in a fever-dream of pain and a better world. Oh, Salma, Salma, why hast thou forsaken me! And he twists onto his back, slipping in his own yellow ichor, turning his vitals up to the interior of the machine which has so cruelly tricked him. And he dies. Alone. Inside the machine.

I thought, as I pocketed my cherry ripe, o chocolatey goodness unsullied by twitching roach feet – there is a lesson in this for all of us.

But I’m not sure what it is…. maybe that hygiene inside vending machines leaves something to be desired and fresh produce is to be preferred…

 Or maybe… As I walked slowly back to my office through passage-ways, turning left, turning right, I thought, I thought to myself, give the self-pity a miss, ok, buddy? You ain’t a roach.





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