I was talking about insects with the third-graders the other day, and this one kid says, "cockroaches are the only thing that will survive a nuclear war."
"Where'd you learn that?" I asked him.
"I read it somewhere. Or saw it on TV."
I was... startled, I guess. It seems that everyone has seen the TV show that says cockroaches will be the only thing to survive a nuclear war.
I saw the show on television when I was maybe eight or nine years old. I don't know what the show was, but it was about nuclear war, and it showed atomic test footage, and it had the thing about the cockroaches.
Almost everyone I've ever met has seen that show. Everyone has seen the TV show about nuclear war that says cockroaches will be the only thing that survives. Nobody really remembers what the show was, the title, or any other details. Just the cockroach part.
Maybe it's not even real, that show. Maybe the cockroach thing is just some kind of subliminal messaging, or mass hypnosis or something. But everybody knows it, everyone learns it at about the same time in their life, but nobody remembers definitely where it came from.
I used to think it was a coincidental, local and generational thing. I mean, we only received three television channels back in the pre-cable days, so most kids were familiar with the same stuff.
Over time I became aware that the cockroach show transcended regional boundaries. It didn't matter where people were from, they'd seen it.
Now I see that it transcends generations too.