Monday, July 16, 2012

"I Know Nothing"

Sunday’s season opener of Breaking Bad and an article in Monday’s NY Times prompted today’s blog entry. In Breaking Bad, sleazy attorney Saul Goodman advised Skyler White she should think Hogan’s Heroes if she’s ever questioned by authorities. Today’s Times reported on efforts to eradicate real or imagined cockroaches in Naples, Italy (

Both media evoked memories of my first trip to Israel during the summer of 1966. As a high school graduation present, my parents sent their 17-year-old son to Israel for six weeks and to Italy and France for two more. In Israel I stayed mostly with my sister who was studying in Jerusalem for two years. During one of my touring trips, I visited Ashkelon, a city on the Mediterranean that had some famous ancient ruins. 

I checked into a hostel and was assigned a shared room. My roommate was not in after dinner when I lay down to read. From the corner of my eye, I detected something dark moving near his bed across the room. I got up, put on my distance glasses, saw it was a big cockroach and smashed it. I returned to bed. About 15 minutes later, I detected more movement coming from the area of the kill, only this time the dark spot was a much larger mass. They say cockroaches can survive an atomic blast, but there was no way that bug could have resurrected itself from the thumping I gave it. I guardedly advanced to the killing field. The cockroach was in fact moving, but not under its own power. An army of ants had surrounded it and were bringing the feast home.

I heard the lock to our door jiggling. I ran back to bed and resumed reading. My roommate, a tourist from a Scandinavian country, introduced himself, turned to his bed and stopped in his tracks. “What’s this?,” he asked. “What?,” said I. He pointed to the ant colony on the march. As Sgt. Schultz in the then-popular TV show Hogan’s Heroes used to say, I sheepishly replied, “’I hear nothing, I see nothing. I know nothing.’ Perhaps you should call the front desk and have them bring some bug spray.” 

I have no doubt he saw through my ruse, but he was diplomatic enough not to say anything. I, meanwhile, went to sleep with one eye figuratively open. 

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