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Here's something to do when you're feeling hostile.

Do this now: imagine a man in the form of a cockroach, press your forehead to the monitor screen, close your eyes.

After a momentís invocation/concentration, Cockroach Man emerged from the ruddy depths of your closed eyelids. He did, right? 

If not, press your forehead to the teeth above, breath deeply, close your eyes once more.

OK. Now that youíve returned to this account, and opened your eyes to read these words, letís talk about some quandaries you may have had with the image you just conjured.

Essentially, Cockroach Manís manliness is the dilemma, right? 

How to depict it? Cockroaches are blattid orthopterous (straight winged) insects: chiefly nocturnal, voracious, omnivorous, quick to emit foul odors communicable to all they contact.

The word blattid above describes these orthoptersí flat oval bodies, their oversized prothorax, retracted heads, and strong legs with setose tibiae (hairy shins). 

But youíve pictured something more than just another blah blattiae. This imaginative exercise involved a humanoid blattiae. Something that walks (scurries) erectly on its hindlegs. 

Your Cockroach Man stood tall. Yet, if cockroach is erectus, it doesnít automatically follow that heís sapian, not even with feet fitted in wingtips or cockroach-customized aquasocks. 

To transform a cockroach into something approaching human form we need to do more than just dress him up in water-resistant footwear. We all know that. We need to merge extremes: the twain entwined is what we need. And then thoughts must be put in that retracted head.

Another quick exercise

First, picture a man in the form of Clothed Man, not approximating, but bullseyeing the Ideal of Clothed Manliness as put forth by sweetly stinking, advertising-laden menís magazines.

Second, adjust Ideal Manís age until he is stately and distinguished. Fleck the temples gray as appropriate. Tan to taste. Envision Ideal Man as dough left to rise on your kitchen countertop.

Third, kneed the splintery Cockroach Man into the rising dough of your Ideal Man; continue until the two are one. On a greased cookie tray, bake until golden and crunchy.

Call your creation Arbiter the Cockroach.

We suggest Arbiter because we think it's a good name for a hypothetical employer, especially one who's something of an asshole.

Now let's imagine an employed person, and let's call him Puck, and let's imagine that he's our pal, and let's imagine that he just did the same thing you just did: he took Cockroach Man and Ideal Man and melted them together and came up with something else. You could say he mixed colors that create an energetic, antagonistic charge when bordering each other, but when blended, produce something totally shit-colored. He superimposed extremes, and once fully formed and christened Arbiter the Cockroach, this monstrous orthopteraman seized control of Puckís pissed-off mindís eye. Assume Puck is pissed off for reasons of your choosing, or assume that he received an e-mail from Arbiter informing Puck and his co-workers that a red-hot fire was needed under all their asses. This was not a threat, the message continued, it's just the way it is.

Anyway, this pissedoffness enabled Puck to fill Arbiter the Cockroachís retracted yet distinguished head with mean thoughts, thereby breathing life into his creation, transforming an it into a him. Puck could feel him there: a cold dime pressed to his forehead so completely it lodged between skin and skull. All this thinking about Arbiter the Cockroach gave Puck a headache, however. He could feel a hole being munched through his skull. And then, somewhere above and behind his eyebrows, there was a raspy back-suctioning of snot through a snout of cartilage. It sounded like loading a slingshot with a water balloon. Then, with one great wet whoosh, a wad of something corrosively translucent slipped through the fresh hole in Puckís skull, coating the gyrus and sulci of his frontal cortex with the loathsome slime of this Orthopteraman. Since the frontal cortex controls short-term memory, reason, and imagination, Puckís goo-clogged memory performed as expected: it forgot the reason heíd imagined this cockroach spitting through a crack in his skull. 

Oh yeah. The message: thatís what started all this. 

The this is not a threat; this is the way it is. The hot, painful fire under all your asses.

Brain function nearly restored, our pal Puck dislodged the product of his imagination from within his head and held it tightly in his hands. A disgusted Puck sneered, then he snickered. He clicked his tongue three times, and, as with Dorothyís heels, things changed. Whatever it was that drenched Puckís brain in acidic spit, it now wore a chalk-striped, charcoal gray suit from Brooks Brothers, a look replete with high-status braces and spiky heirloom cufflinks. Although it took up a lot of psychological energy, the thing in the suit was not much bigger than a cat -- Puck could hold it firmly in his hands. 

Puck removed an arm. This required little effort. The claw-like fingers curled into a tight fist. This fist made it easier for Puck. It made it easier for him to jimmy the arm -- not gently -- between the apple-sized orbs of Arbiterís squat-thrust conditioned ass: oh my! . . . The cufflinks, they presented a problem, however. Not for Puck, but for the thing getting forcibly arm-fucked in the ass. The cufflinks, they seemed to cause some pain: these little wrist-borne steeple points commemorating an up-until-that-moment wellspring of pride in Arbiterís Viking lineage. When loading his sleeves with these seemingly harmless nods to his descendents, Arbiter was unaware of the ultimate anal expense, the volcanic pain of a cufflink colonic. He had no idea how loudly he would shout oh man whatís that shredding my sphincter! Had he known, surely he would have foregone these genealogical accessories for a suitable accouterment lacking spikes. 

We hope this exercise and the accompanying illustration have helped you vanquish your hostility for the remainder of the day. If not feel free to tell us off.

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