Tonight I watched a tiny cricket crawling along the floor next to the baseboard. A teeny, tiny cricket. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say it was slightly less than a quarter inch long. When I was a kid, I hated crickets. They lived in droves in our unfinished basement, and they would chirp all night long. I could hear them from two floors up in my bedroom. Occasionally, I would wake up in the middle of the night and hear one a bit louder than the others and wonder if one had (as they occasionally did) made the perilous journey up the wooden basement steps to our living room.
When my mom would send us to the basement to retrieve something from the freezer, I feared that one would jump at me. It happened once and, apparently, the post-traumatic stress disorder sent me over the edge. Jumping bugs are the worst. You just never know where they’re going to go. With a nervous eye, I would glance downward as I weaved my way through the clotheslines full of my mom’s drip-dry lingerie on my way to the freezer for a container of lemonade or Cool Whip, praying the entire time that I would not see one. Ridiculous, but those small musicians freaked me out.
Then, one day a friend told me that crickets are good luck. What? This was news to me. If I had known that, I would have thought we were the luckiest family in the world. I certainly never would have killed one. Since the day that my friend told me about the fortuitous nature of crickets, I have been superstitious and unable to kill one. This is not to imply that I like them. I don’t. And I never liked killing them. (They are crunchy when you step on them.) After my friend’s suggestion, however, I began a new tradition. When I find a cricket in my home, I pick it up and carry it outside alive because heaven knows I need all the good luck I can get. Still, the 13 year old girl inside of me squeals every time I do it.
When I went off to college, my then boyfriend gave me a Jiminy Cricket plush toy from Disney. I thought it was odd given my sketchy relationship with crickets, and my expression must have betrayed me because he then felt the need to explain the gift. He told me that Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio’s conscience. This cricket was to sit in my room and keep an eye on me while I was away to make sure I was being good. I can’t tell you how much I hated that cricket toy. That damn thing sat there judging me all through my freshman and sophomore years of college. I would hide it in the corner of my room and when my boyfriend came to visit he would again move it someplace prominent. It was downright creepy how that cricket kept an eye on me. One night toward the end of my sophomore year, I tossed that stuffed cricket into a pile for Goodwill and cheated on the aforementioned boyfriend. Oddly enough, I’ve felt pretty good about myself ever since.
Tonight when I saw that teeny cricket, I got out of bed, picked him up, and carried him downstairs. I opened the patio door and set him carefully on the back porch so he could go watch someone else. The last thing I need is another critter monitoring my actions and checking my conscience. Crickets in the home may bring good luck, but I’m a lot more at ease when they’re outside where they belong.