Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Flowers for Jiminy

"Kill it," my girlfriend said.

"Excuse me?"

"Kill it."

Usually she wakes me up in the morning by dumping a bucket of cold water on my head. This was different--almost civilized in comparison. Besides, there are ever so many people I wouldn't mind killing, so I figured I'd run with it. "Who exactly is it you want me to kill?"

"Not who, you idiot. What. That...that thing. The cricket."
"Wait. Let me get this straight. You want me to kill a cricket?"

"Yes. Now."

"But, why?"

"It's chirping."

Now, it seemed to me that if I were forced to kill a cricket for chirping, I might as well be duty-bound to kill a bird for flying, a fish for swimming, or a worm for doing whatever it is that worms do. Besides, crickets in the house have always been considered good luck. They're not at all like those creepy gazillion-legged centipedes that deserve to be stomped until they're an unrecognizable mass of glop on the bottom of a shoe. Find a cricket inside your house, take him out to your backyard and send him on his way. That's always been my motto. So I thought I'd reason with her. "Why don't I just catch him and put him outside?"

She wasn't having any part of it. "I want him dead."

The woman was serious.

" Move the refrigerator so I can get him with the vacuum."

Obviously, there was no talking to her. Fortunately, I thought to remind her about my bad back and successfully begged off on the refrigerator moving. "I'll Google crickets instead," I told her. "We'll see what we're up against."

As you might expect, there are thousands upon thousands of links to crickets. Of those I read, most said a cricket could reasonably expect to live three weeks. But I also learned that a certain type of cricket can live to be almost five years old. I only read her the articles about the short-lived crickets. Why risk Armageddon when the odds were clearly in my favor?

For the first week the cricket was perky, chirp, chirp chirping pretty much twenty- four seven. I'm not saying he was arrogant, but rather that he had a high rate of confidence in his sexuality and ability to pick up lady crickets.

By the second week, it was clear he felt like a victim. He was still quite the bachelor. Though he continued to rub his wings against his hind legs, it sounded more like whining than chirping. That, plus a lack of food had an effect on him, and the chirps grew fainter and further apart.

By the third week he was in full panic mode. He'd be quiet for hours, then suddenly erupt in a desperate staccato of booming chirps. Sadly, this didn't endear him to any lady crickets and only made my girlfriend hate him more.

I felt bad for the cricket. I really did. And I tried to help him. But my girlfriend caught me trying to shove a small piece of iceberg lettuce under the fridge. Her ultimatum was clear. I could have either her or the cricket. Not both. Since the cricket hadn't yet made me coffee in the morning, my choice was obvious. I'd have to let him die.

Yesterday we had twenty-four hours of quiet. I'm pretty sure the little guy's gone. So, tonight I'm buying flowers. No, not for my girlfriend--for the cricket. And despite what she might say, I'm going to shove them under the refrigerator. I'm hoping that if there's a spark of life left in him, he'll take a bite of them. And then maybe another bite and another. I hate to see him go out this way--starving to death.

On the other hand, if he's already dead, he'll have flowers for his funeral. At least that's something, isn't it? And regardless of the cricket's health, or lack of it, I'll still be getting my coffee in the morning.