A Scary Thing

I called Julio about a work-related system. While I was pointing out the inefficiency of a certain aspect of said system (read: the secretary who wanted to use Liquid Paper in place of technology), he said, “You don’t want to come over here right now. There’s a really big cricket outside my window. I know you hate stuff like that. I’ve never seen such a big cricket…”

I said, “Let me go over there right now.”

It wasn’t a cricket. It was a locust. And just a normal-sized one, too. What was striking about it was that this stupid, ugly, normal-sized locust was on the window ledge of the twentieth freaking floor.

[I just spent half my lunch hour googling “locust grasshopper difference” so that, when I told y’all it was locust and not a cricket or a grasshopper, I could link to an illustration pointing out the distinguishing features. According to all the sites I found, locusts are what you call grasshoppers when they’re in the mood to swarm. But all those sites were hosted from places outside of Central Texas. After recovering from ten years of life in Central Texas with its annual insect plagues, I’ve come up with my own personal entomology. For the purposes of this entry and everything I write in the future: Grasshoppers are green, like grass. They range from zero to four inches and can have ugly, blind-looking eyes. They only hop. Locusts are shaped like grasshoppers, but they’re bigger – up to eight inches long, in my experience – and come in brown, olive green, or distressed khaki. You see them parked on shrubs or upside-down on older houses. Crickets are squat, black creatures, always an inch long in adulthood. Cicadas and katydids are words you find in books about people who don’t live in Central Texas. Okay. Now you can continue reading my anecdote.]

I walked up to the window, which made up one whole wall of the office, and stared at the locust from behind the safety of the very thick glass.

“Ew,” I said.

“Look at his legs,” said Julio.

In a violent flash of purposeful fury, the locust flew at the window. One loud thud and then a second one issued like explosions as he thrust his body at the glass nearest to my face. I screamed and ran to the opposite corner of the office. I turned back and peered through my trembling fingers just in time to see the monster fly, with nasty legs extended, through the sky to the twenty-first floor. Or to the top of our building, maybe. Or maybe up to Heaven to attack the angels.

Julio laughed uncomfortably, like someone who’d just avoided getting hit by a train. “I knew I shouldn’t have told you about it,” he said. “That really scared you, huh?”

“It tried to fly in my hair,” I whispered.

We spent a minute musing on how the locust had gotten so high and what its intentions could possibly be. Then we spent a minute or two being scared to go outside.

As you may know, I sometimes see insects as omens. If that experience was an omen, I think its message was, “People may get pissed off and threaten you after you serve them with child-support-enforcement-hearing papers, and you might be scared, but those people really can’t hurt you, so go ahead and live your life.”

My friend Letty just called see if I minded postponing our lunch plans. I didn’t mind at all. I’m staying inside until it’s time to go home.

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Posted in insects on 09/17/2004 06:09 pm

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