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An Uninvited Six-Legged Dinner Guest

George Herriman's first look at Archy the vers libre cockroach

I suppose knowing they're the life form most likely to survive a nuclear war is what makes them so bold.

But unlike Don Marquis' correspondent Archy, the cockroach with the soul of a vers libre poet, the bug scuttling across our restaurant table had no literary pretentions. As far as I know, the only thing he ever got down on paper was himself when I squashed him into a paper napkin.

As Archy wold have observed, "Transmigration of souls is a great game if you don't weaken."

A few minutes after that send-off to the Karmic Wheel our waitress dropped by to ask how everything was.  "Great," I said, and unfolded the napkin.  We were laughing but she was mortified.  De Groot and I had to spend the next few minutes reassuring her that we weren't mad, weren't demanding a free dinner or any of that huffy stuff people do.

We like that place so much we've even given it a nickname.

Nancy Leson was surprised at our equanimity in the face of wild roaches.  It just didn't bother me all that much.  The roaches I used to see in Lamar's, a greasy spoon I frequented in Biloxi, were the size of lobsters.  Looking at the little bug on our table I sneered "Hah!  Call that a cockroach?"

Still, as Nancy points out it doesn't pay to be too casual about this kind of thing.  Roaches are filthy things that spread disease including Salmonella Typhi which causes Typhoid.  Roaches also spread Dysentary  and Poliomyelitis among many other terrible diseases. 

"Cockroaches ansd socialites are the only things that can stay up all night and eat anything."– Herb Caen

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.