September 6, 2011

See you in 2024...

Yesterday I found a dead cicada under the laundry detergent in our garage, three days before that Sean brought in a perfectly preserved cicada shell from the garden, and two weeks before that I found one lone cicada wing behind my desk. No body. Just the wing. I don't know about other households in the South, but these little suckers were so intense that their remanants just keep showing up. But this comes as no surprise, because this year we were taken hostage by cicadas.  The whole invasion was like a scene from a horrible sci-fi film.  

(Imagine your screen going blurry and wavy like an old 80's movie...)

On May 8, 2011, I was at my friend Melissa’s house playing with leftover clay from our pottery class.  At about 4:00 her husband came home and told us the 13-year cicadas were supposed to be coming soon. Melissa and I made jokes about how we’d have to cancel the lake trip, lock our doors, and hide for 8 weeks. (If it was a movie it would have panned to the twitching ground outside the window, while the curtains eerily blew in the wind, and we naively made jokes inside.) An hour later I left her house and moments after I walked in my door I received a phone call from Melissa. She said only two words but I knew she was serious, “They’re here.”

I ran back to her house (literally ran… we’re neighbors) and discovered hundreds of cicadas slowly but confidently coming out of the ground, anchoring themselves with their little arms, and strenuously pushing their bodies out of the holes. I began to count the ones I could see from where I was standing and when I reached 89, I threw up.  Not really, but I wanted to.  
I cautiously began to look at other yards and discovered that the ground was moving. Literally moving.  I would watch one blade of grass and within seconds the thousands of blades surrounding that one would twitch to the left, then to the right.  I pictured myself taking a machete, shaving the top ½ inch of the ground off, and watching thousands of giant bugs crawl around.  Ooooohhh…

For the next few days, my interest peaked and my nervousness dwindled.  These little guys weren’t so bad.  They were moving at approximately the speed of stoned turtles, AND they were leaving cute little shells all around.  “Oh this is going to be alright.” I said. “I’ll make some magnets out of the shells, send them to my brother, and have a real swell summer.” 

4 days later my tune changed.  They were mobile.  They were flying.  They were bigger.  They had changed color.  Their eyes were piercing, and blood red, and sat on their heads like beads  AND… they started talking.  Screaming actually.  If one flew near you it would announce its presence with a blood curdling shriek. 

For the next 8 weeks we were in prison.  If you walked out your door they would jump on your back, your legs, even your face. If you went to a drive-thru window they’d fly in your car, if you ate outside they’d land on your food.  It was CHAOS.   After a few sneaky cicadas followed me inside on my back, waited until I felt safe, and then tauntingly screeched in my ear, I took Melissa’s advice and began waving my arms like a crazy person every time I ran from my car to a building.  If one flew within two feet of me I swatted it down with great force, yelled  “Hooo-Yah!” and then dry heaved for 15 seconds.

In mid-June, I finally escaped the madness by driving south for a weekend and when I returned home, the noise was gone, the cicadas were dead, and peace had once again swept over the land.

A few weeks later I lay in bed, thinking about those cicadas… the good times, the bad times, and all the in-between… “See you in 2024…” I whispered “See you in 2024.”

These pictures brought to you by Melissa’s husband, Mathew Portell.

See you in 2024 little man. See you in 2024.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This entire post makes me want to die. I am SO terrified of cicadas. Once my FIL threw a shell on me while we were in the car and I literally started screaming/crying/hyperventilating uncontrollably until my mother in law could pull the car over so I could get out.
If I lived through what you went though last year, I would not be here today. I swear it. I know, it's dramatic, but those things right there are of the devil! I wish you all the best and lots of luck in 2024!