My husband and I were having dinner with friends the other night when they politely asked, "How are your kids?"

As we picked at the appetizer, we launched into a serious discussion on cockroaches. Parents cannot talk about their grown children living on their own without the subject of roaches coming up. We told them about our son who had brought over three trays of his vacation slides to show on our screen. About five minutes into his presentation, there was a quick movement at the bottom of the screen that seemed to become larger.Turning to my son in the darkness, I said, "You used to make a better shadow rabbit than that on the screen." He was not making a shadow rabbit on the screen.

"That is a roach!" I said hysterically. "A roach that has been on fertility drugs and is ready to give birth to 20 cockroaches in my living room. Turn on the lights. Now!"

"Mom," he said, "once the roach falls down into the projector and the heat from the lamp hits it, it's history."

"What makes you such an authority?" I said - and could have bitten my tongue in half. What indeed! He is the Pied Piper of roaches . . . the Mother Teresa of homeless roaches . . . the Jane Goodall of roach behavior. His apartment was given a five-star rating in the roach newsletter. Roaches fly in from all over the country on commercial airlines just to get to his kitchen sink. It's not my imagination; I have seen them dancing on his countertop like raisins, clicking their fingers to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

When the main course was served, one of our dinner companions said our son was right. Heat would kill roaches. He knew this for a fact as he had personally chased them around the room with a hair dryer, and they fell like flies. There was a moment of silence while we all froze that picture in our memories.

A heated discussion ensued. I didn't think anything could kill a roach. I had read that even in the event of a nuclear attack, the cockroach would emerge from the ashes to once more roam the Earth in great numbers. I had heard that some of my son's roaches actually worked on suntans while he was at work.

When the dessert cart came around, the waiter interrupted our intense conversation to suggest either raisin pudding, spice cake with dates and nuts, baklava, fruitcake or sorbet.

We all ordered sorbet.