Thursday, October 15, 2009

To Catch a Cricket

There was a chirping cricket in my room a few nights ago. You may associate crickets with warm summer nights, bucolic surroundings, and Pinocchio, but one in your room is not a good thing. It's annoyingly loud. If the sound comes too close, you worry it will jump on you. Crickets are not cute; they are largeish and buggy:

Fig.1: Not cute if it's coming to get you

At first I couldn't even tell where the sound was coming from, but after some fruitless tapping on gratings and air ducts, I realized it was in my closet lurking behind a pipe. There was no good way of reaching it there, so I creatively used the means at my disposal and began squirting it with 409. I don't like the smell of that stuff and I figured Mr. Cricket would like it even less.

He was cowed for a bit, but soon the chirping started up even more loudly. I had roused him from his hiding place! It was then that we had our first face-to-face encounter, he bigger than I had expected, I more merciful than he (presumably) had expected. Because I decided to trap him under a glass and shoo him outside instead of smooshing him. Rather than go along with my magnanimous gesture, however, he scurried into the unfathomable recesses of my Murphy Bed while I was ducking into the kitchen.

Beyond my reach? Only if he'd stayed put. Once I turned the lights out he went on the move again and cleverly "hid" in the middle of my carpet. I was going to kill him, but then he chirped and the sight of his little quivering hindquarters as I shone the flashlight on him made me relent. Except that, when I tried to clomp the glass on top of him, he moved and I caught his back leg. Which ripped off and convulsed once, forlornly, before staying forever still.

I thought I might need to do a mercy-killing, but in fact he could still move damn quickly, and after the glass was on top of him the chink-chink of his exoskeleton insistently bonking against its surface kind of freaked me out. Once he was outside, we could both rest in peace.

Wikipedia tells me that crickets bite, carry "a large number of diseases," and can produce "painful sores." Good thing for Mr. Cricket that I didn't know this. I also learned, by the way, that only male crickets sing, and that they have several songs, including a loud one that attracts mates and repels rivals, and a "copulatory song."

I'm pretty sure I wasn't getting the copulatory song. But was I rival or mate? Was Mr. Cricket gay? We will never know. (By the way, crickets can regenerate their legs, so whatever his orientation, Mr. Cricket is not doomed to a life of bachelorhood just because he was my inadvertent amputee.)

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