Mendel Weinbach was startled a little after three in the morning. His three year old had started crying rather loudly, and since they were both in the same room, it was difficult not to hear.
“Tattela,” Mendel called out to Shmuel, “What’s wrong? You have a bad dream?”
“Tati, no, I’m toasty.” This was his youthful way of saying that he was thirsty. It was certainly not the time to attempt to correct his pronunciation.
“Okay, so stay right here and Tati will get you some water, okay?”
“Tati, I want soy milk.”
“Fine then… soy milk.”
Mendel went to the dark kitchen and fumbled in the cupboard for an appropriate cup. He poured half a cup of soy milk into the cup and then for some reason looked down at it, only to find himself face to tiny face with a cockroach who seemed to be desperately swimming toward the side of the cup. He immediately yelled out when he saw the cockroach.
The cockroach stopped moving to the side of the cup and started paddling. Looking up at Mendel, it said “Was that really necessary?”
Mendel nearly screamed again but somehow was able to restrain himself. Horrified, he said “What are you doing talking? Insects aren’t supposed to talk!”
“You know, I was having a perfectly good nap, and you had to go and wreck it by attempting to drown me. Who are you to be asking me questions?”
“I’m Mendel Weinbach. This is my apartment. Well, my wife and I own it. I wasn’t trying to drown you, you just chose a particularly bad place to sleep.”
Shmuel came out of the bedroom. “Tati, who are you talking to? I want soy milk.”
“Shmuely, tati will give you soy milk in a minute. Tati’s just trying to negotiate with an unwanted guest.”
“It’s what you do when you and someone else don’t agree about something.”
“Okay, tati. I’m going to wait in bed.” He went back to the bedroom.
“That was close. I nearly had to tell my own son that I was talking to an insect.”
“Look at you, all high and mighty. You’re so much better than me because you’re a bipedal humanoid? Please, I have ancestors that survived a nuclear blast.”
“You also have cousins, I am sure, that ate poison just because it looked like food.”
“Touche. Look, let me off at the window ledge and I’ll scamper off and I promise you’ll never see me again.”
“I’m sure I will see plenty more of your family, though.”
“Now you’re just being a speciesist. Please. Next you’ll be saying we all look the same.”
Mendel let the cockroach out of the cup on the window sill and watched as it scurried through a crack. He made a mental note that the crack needed to be repaired soon, and dumped out the soy milk into the sink. After deep cleaning it with the most powerful soap he could find, he filled it again and took it to the bedroom.
Shmuel took a small sip of soy milk. “All done!” he said, and gave the cup back.
At least he gave a cockroach a little exercise for the day.