Jewish World ReviewJune 25, 2004 / 6 Tamuz, 5764
Old Red Eyes is back, but not at this house
The husband's reaction to the return of the 17-year cicadas has
been one of cool detached scientific interest. My reaction, on the other
hand, could be best described as hysterical.
When you have to wield a tennis racket in one hand and a badminton
racket in the other, to get from your house to your car, there is reason to
get excited. The husband will tell you the rackets are an over-reaction on
my part. He will also say that, though a cicada may bump into you, it will
not bite, sting or hurt.
Sure, Hon. They have hideous red eyes, creepy big wings, can drop from
trees, become airborne and burrow into the ground, but they're just as
afraid of me as I am of them.
I'm sticking with the rackets. The way I see it, an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of splat.
The truth is, I've not actually had to swing the rackets, even though we
live in a swarm state. A swarm state would be one of the states fully
shaded on the maps indicating where cicadas will be emerging, swarming and
devouring the land and all its inhabitants therein. (Another gross
exaggeration, the husband says.) I've been on high alert for an invasion of
Torah plague proportions for weeks, and I've yet to see a single
We may be the only cicada-free yard in a state that is infested.
Why? The husband says cicadas can sniff panic the way a dog can smell fear
and, because of me, they're detouring around us.
So maybe I'm a little on edge, but that doesn't mean I want them to pass
us by. This is a phenomenon of nature. Everybody wants the satisfaction of
saying, "Been there, done that, got the exoskeleton," as dry brown shells
crunch beneath your feet.
I long to pick up the phone and tell friends living in states west
of the Mississippi (poor deprived states that do not host Brood X
cicadas), "Yes, we sautéed a couple of them in butter last night. Tasted
like canned asparagus. They're Atkins friendly, you know; low carb." Of
course, I'd be lying. You'd have to be nuts to eat a cicada, but I'd still
love to say that.
Each evening I go to bed thinking this will be the night we hear
the mating call of the cicadas known to reach 90 decibels. When they jar me
from my sleep, I'll fly to the window, tell Old Red Eyes to put a cork in
it and slam the window shut! Someday I will. Right now, with the exception
of two doves and a dog, all is quiet on the western front. North, east and
Each morning when I go out for the newspaper, I take a broom in case I
have to sweep cicadas off the door in order to leave the house. There has
been nothing on the front door but fingerprints.
Each time I get in the car, I check the backseat window in case one flew
in, hoping to distract me in traffic. All I've found is a gum wrapper, 37
cents in change and an old dead fly.
A family two miles north of us doesn't go out in the daytime because the
cicadas are so thick. Whenever they open their front door, the varmints
zoom into the house terrorizing the four-year-old and entertaining the
baby. Meanwhile, I put out a Cicadas Welcome Here banner and I don't get so
much as a knock.
Some people get all the breaks.
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© 2004, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.