Archive for memories

Kill Cockroaches With Boric Acid

This is a response to this post about pesky cucarachas:

American Cockroach

Living in a small rustic house with three (sometimes five) college guys in Abilene, Texas, I wasn’t sure who was to blame for the cockroaches. Things weren’t exactly kept clean. But one summer, I stayed to work while others left town. The roaches didn’t leave with them.

I happened to run into the landlord and I mentioned the bugs. His response was unexpected. “Yeah, but don’t worry. They’re tree roaches. They just come inside to look for water.” He went on to explain that the typical cockroaches people worry about are a different, smaller kind. They get into your food, but these don’t.

To get rid of them, he suggested a unique attack. Let’s call it the banana borax blitz:

  • Step 1: Chop up a banana and leave it outside near where you think they might be coming inside.
  • Step 2: After midnight, go outside to check the banana. You should find more cockroaches than you ever wanted to see in one place.
  • Step 3: Lightly dust them with borax, or powdered boric acid. You can buy it at most grocery stores.
  • Step 4: Panic as they scatter. Beware, these things can and fly when disturbed!

When cockroaches clean themselves, they eat the powder. Death is swift. I actually watched a few slowly crawl away and flip over with a kind of cockroach kabuki gesture.

It turns out boric acid is well documented for killing roaches (although others suggest a more subtle approach). Four of the top 10 results on Google are from .edu’s.

True Mexican Novelas

After visiting the tomb of her daughter in Guadalajara, my mother-in-law Luz sits quietly in the backseat with her sister Esperanza. The high-beams guide us in the darkness. Rosario takes advantage of the two-and-a-half hour drive to León, Guanajuato to interview her aunt about her youth. “Tenía ud. muchos novios? Did you have a lot of boyfriends?” she asks. “Uy, sí. Oh yeah.” They both chuckle. Esperanza continues, explaining how she dated three boys at the same time, one being her future husband. Once, she was out dancing with one boyfriend, and another boyfriend arrived. Her friends quickly alerted her “Ahí viene José Here comes José” so she could excuse herself from the dance-floor.

Rosario asks her aunt how she eventually married José. “Por accidente! By accident!” Esperanza explains how different times were back then. She was a good girl who held hands but didn’t kiss. One day, she got angry with a neighbor and the two exchanged heated words. Later, Esperanza’s father, a man who rarely spoke to her whatsoever, asked her if what the neighbor told him was true. She reluctantly agreed. What she didn’t know was that the neighbor actually said Esperanza and José were having inappropriate relations. Her father obliged José to marry Esperanza. She liked José but had no interest in marriage at age 16. Her father insisted. The Catholic train couldn’t be stopped and the two were married. It wasn’t until several years later, while talking with her mother, she realized what had happened.

But the story didn’t stop there. She describes José’s drinking, the beatings, the 20 pregnancies, and their first kiss after over 50 years of marriage. After an hour of her stories, all those telenovelas with ridiculous plot turns somehow seemed a little less ridiculous.

Meet Esperanza:

Esperanza

Street Ball

La tiramos afuera, tio? Wanna play catch, Uncle?” My nephew Benjamin tossed the ragged tennis ball a few inches in the air. “Sure.”

Bored

Benjamin is 12 years old and lives with his father and grandmother in Tijuana. His mother died when he was two. He knows her mostly from pictures. His father moved them to California a few years after; Benjamin went to school and learned to speak English. After several hard years working multiple kitchen jobs, they returned to Guadalajara. Some years later, they came back to Tijuana to live on the same street they lived together as a young family almost 10 years earlier. My wife Rosario had told me about her sister and the child she left behind. And I met my new nephew less than a year before becoming his uncle.

La tiramos afuera, tio?” “Sure,” I say following him outside to play catch at 9 o’clock at night. The brisk air becomes more and more bearable as I warm up, throwing fast and fly balls, sprinting to chase the green grounders that get by. Between breaks for passing cars, Benjamin’s cousin, Roberto (another nephew I neglected to mention who lives in California but had to come back and enroll in school to renew his visa), comes outside to join the game. Benjamin scoops up a broken two by four, hands it to Roberto and takes the mound. I pull a chunk of particleboard out of the neighbor’s construction scrap and place it at home plate. The rules quickly come together, hits and runs measured by speed bumps and telephone poles. In this moment, Tijuana blooms. Streetlights become stadium floodlights and the uneven pavement becomes a world-class ballpark.

The moment never lasts long enough. I didn’t hit the hero’s home run I had hoped for. But it doesn’t matter to them. Who says you need a baseball or a bat to play baseball. They can turn the contents of your pocket into ninja stars. And they have no idea how much they inspire me.



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