The scourge of September
Sept. 12, 2011
by Ivan Raconteur

I had just begun to rejoice in the arrival of September when a dark cloud threw a shadow over this idyllic time of the year.

September, with its sunny days and crisp, cool nights, signals the beginning of what has always been my favorite season. It is still warm enough to enjoy the outdoor activities we love, but without the oppressive heat and humidity of August.

However, nature is so-arranged that nothing is perfect, and this applies even to this, the best of all possible seasons.

The dark shadow noted above arrived shortly after September did, and it was cast by an obnoxious insect.

The bachelor pad has been infested by a cricket, and I know it won’t be the last.

Critics might question whether a single insect qualifies as an infestation, but anyone who has experienced the misfortune of having one of the diminutive devils lurking in his domicile knows that even one cricket is a great abundance, if not a surplus.

I reject the fiction that has been propagated by scoundrels like Walt Disney who have tried to convince us that crickets are cute and personable, and represent good luck or conscience.


Even Dickens got into the act with his schmaltzy Christmas story, “The Cricket on the Hearth. A Fairy Tale of Home,” in 1845.

Dickens portrayed the cricket as a guardian angel of the family.

These abominable insects have insinuated themselves into popular culture, with some misguided people believing that a cricket chirping on the hearth will bring good luck.

Well, I don’t have a hearth at the bachelor pad, and the only thing the incessant chirping is going to bring me is a nervous breakdown.

Crickets are contemptible little creatures and immensely irksome, out of all proportion with their size.

Scientists call the chirping “stridulation,” which hardly makes it any more appealing.

Apparently, only the males make the noise, and they do so by running the top of one wing over the serrated bottom of the other wing.

The wing membranes serve as acoustical sails, which allow the little miscreants to direct the maximum level of racket toward hard-working writers who are trying to concentrate.

I understand that some people, presumably masochists, actually keep crickets as pets.

Why anyone would want to do so is beyond me entirely.

The only practical use I can see for crickets, with the possible exception of use as bait by anglers, would be to use them as a weapon for our military.

We could drop battalions of the winged monsters onto the headquarters of our enemies.

The unsuspecting recipients would soon become so disoriented by the constant noise and by lack of sleep caused by the nocturnal concerts, that they would cease to be a threat to us.

Cricket warfare would be a lot less expensive than many of the weapons programs that are currently being developed.

I would be happy to get the ball rolling by donating all of the crickets from my neighborhood.

It will take someone a good deal quicker than I to capture the little demons, though.

They seem to be able to hide in the tiniest, most inaccessible spaces, and they have a diabolical way of directing their din that makes it almost impossible to find them.

At least that has been my experience when I have set out to put a stop to their serenades with a gentle tap on their heads with the heel of my shoe.

These campaigns have generally ended in frustration (for me) and smug satisfaction (for the crickets). I am convinced that their infernal chirping takes on an even more mocking tone when they have successfully eluded me yet again.

These adventures are generally followed by my being forced to walk around the house wearing headphones to block out the piercing stridulation.

Another way that people defend crickets is by extolling their virtues as biological thermometers.

There are several formulas, but the most popular seems to be the one that suggests it is possible to tell the current temperature by converting the number of cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit. This is accomplished by counting the number of chirps in 14 seconds, and adding 40.

Whether or not this is true, it seems to me that it would be more convenient and a lot less irritating to simply look at a thermometer to find the temperature.

Some people may continue to believe that crickets are good luck, but I am convinced that they are nothing more than winged instruments of evil sent by the devil himself to temper our enjoyment of the glorious autumn season.

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