Recently, I blogged about cicadas – the biggest insects I have ever seen outside of a zoo aquarium. I related the red-eyed, loud-mouthed creatures to life, suggesting their once-every-13-years coming could be a pretty good measuring stick for significant events, such as my 5-year-old daughter’s 18th birthday.
While I was humbled by these guys when they first appeared from holes in the ground, I must admit they’ve become a little too much for sentimentalism this week.
Now, it seems, they’re making a last-ditch effort to mate. I’m no scientist, but I suspect their powers are fading as their month-long stay above ground comes to an end and they flutter, crawl and zombie-walk down from the trees.
These days, each moment of my life outdoors is a struggle to avoid being accosted by these bastards. I hate them.
Tonight as I pumped gas beneath a fluorescent convenience store light, I was actually distracted from the pedestrian who’d chosen me for a sob story request for drinking money because 47 to 49 cicadas were taking turns dive-bombing me. I had no problem telling the guy no, as I wanted to get inside as soon as possible.
It made little difference.
As I made my way inside the convenience store toward the Pabst Blue Ribbon section, a man waiting in line said, frantically, “Hey – you’ve got one of them locusts on you.”
I looked down; there it was. A three-inch long prehistoric-looking cretant with wings and red eyes, affixed almost mockingly to the breast area of my shirt. I immediately flipped out and did what any normal person with a prehistoric-looking cretant with wings and red eyes would do: I flapped my arms like a one-winged bird, twisted my body like a fish out of water and kung-fu chopped that little asshole right off my chest.
Afterward, I felt I no longer had the right to make fun of the soccer moms who tonight took turns letting out sporadic squawks of fear whenever a cicada would land on them during my daughter’s soccer practice. Everyone seemed to be lined up along the playing field, just waiting to be violated by a cicada looking for love.
Indeed, today is the first day I’ve felt obligated to share my cicada story from Monday, when I got into my car after work, started the engine and immediately heard the piercing sound of a confined cicada on the floor. I’m sure it was a treat to watch me on the security cameras flying out of my car, ripping my coat off and proceeding to shovel pop bottle after pop bottle into the parking lot in search of the damn cicada inside my car.
The children, meanwhile, seem to have no problem with the town’s newest addition. After soccer practice tonight, Kalista – having seen my hair-brained responses to the kamikaze cicadas at soccer practice – made it a point to catch the bugs while we ate ice cream and toss them at me when I least expected it. She learned this, I presume, from a girl at her soccer practice doing the same thing to her mom.
What a crackup she is.
So I tell myself tonight, as I mourn the loss of my nightly check-out-the-garden routine, I’ve learned another lesson about the South: if the locals don’t like something, such as dive-bombing insects that conjure thoughts of Mark McGwire, they probably have their reasons.
Chances are, they’re very good reasons.