While I have named inanimate things, for instance my Hyundai is Harvey, I tend to have more conversations with usually non-verbal neighbours, If you read this blog with any regularity, you will no doubt have noticed that it has come to the attention of various members of the world of wildlife that I have a sympathetic ear for their problems. Worms, butterflies, ducks, pigeons and even Emerald Ash Borers and bees have all called upon me to provide a voice for their problems. I have been more than pleased to accommodate these requests as best I can, but I wondered how it all got started in the first place.
Then it hit me; Carlos Cicada. My original insect friend who spends his summers singing in a tree just up the street from my apartment. I didn’t think of Carlos at first because he was late arriving this year due to a conflict with his tree-lord. It involved the double booking of Carlos’ branch to a group of midges for the duration of the World Cup. It was an easy sell because of its vantage point in front of a window with a view of a large screen television in the adjacent apartment. Once the World Cup ended, the midges vacated and Carlos moved back in, relieved his place hadn’t been sublet to a group of cockroaches because, as he put it “you can never get rid of them, amigo”.
I’ve know Carlos for a few years now, and my significantly better half and I have used some of his exploits to help folks learn Spanish or English on another blog. You see, Carlos has a knack for getting the wrong end of the stick. When he learned that my SBH was out-of-town visiting family, Carlos decided to take me under one of his four wings. Assuming I was lonely, he came up with no end of suggested activities for us to partake of.
Having talked him out of bungee jumping and jet skiing – he didn’t see the humour in my suggestion of a visit to Montreal’s famed Insectarium – I accepted his invitation to lunch at a downtown restaurant, but on the condition that it be my treat. The day was hot and humid so, as I put Carlos, wearing his usual Panama Hat, dark blue blazer, crisp white shirt with red ascot, and khakis, into the breast pocket of my shirt, I asked him how he could leave his post on an ideal singing afternoon to join me for lunch. Carlos assured me he had set his AutoCicada® to start playing his recorded singing should the temperature hit 85 degrees so that no one would even know he was out. (Evidently many Cicadas use one of these devices.) So off we went.
Arriving at the restaurant I sat at a small table for two, and asked Carlos, still in my pocket, what he would like. “A piece of lettuce would hit the spot” he told me. So I ordered a small pizza and a beer for myself, and a salad for Carlos. When it arrived I thanked the waitress and quickly slipped Carlos into the salad bowl. He had at some point put on small white coveralls and six rubber boots, which made him look like a tiny crime scene investigator. “Have you ever tried to get Ranch Dressing out of a blazer my friend?” he said.
He asked me to put a small amount of my beer in a receptacle he carried for this purpose “I’m not much of a drinker, Senor, but I do like a good cold beer on a hot day once every so often”.
Once I had eaten my pizza and finished my beer, well two actually, and we decided to leave, I was sorely tempted to call the waitress over and complain vociferously about the large bug in my salad, then storm out without paying. However it may have looked odd when, after causing a commotion, I scooped Carlos out of the salad bowl and took him with me. So I chose to give that plot a miss, and paid the bill.
When we exited the restaurant, we noticed that it had been raining; the streets were wet yet if anything the humidity was even worse. As we walked along sure enough the rain started once more. I could feel Carlos putting on his CSI Salad Suit again, but I was without benefit of a similar outfit or umbrella, so I jumped on the bus that was waiting at a red light. Once seated by the window, I could watch the rain through the closed window pouring off the roof of the bus in rivulets. As we made our way toward home, more and more people got on, most of them very wet, or toting wet umbrellas. As you can imagine, in no time at all it was like a sauna on that sealed bus; the hot, humid day coupled with a mass of soaked, steamy people pushed the temperature way up.
As is so often the case in life, just as the thought was crossing my mind, it happened. From the depths of my shirt pocket came a cicada aria something akin to the wailing of a berserk banshee. Imagine the absolute power of the noise on an enclosed, crowded bus – deafening is all I can think of to describe it. The driver, no doubt thinking he had run over a whole family of alley cats in heat, put on the brakes. Once the original concussive effect of Carlos’ singing had subsided, people began to come to and look around to see where it could possibly be coming from. Much like a person at a religious service, or in a movie theatre who has forgotten to turn off their mobile phone, only to have it ring loudly, I, too, craned my neck, feigning innocence, as if to see where the sounds was coming from behind me.
I was starting to feel a wee bit like St. Peter, as I found myself for the second time that day, in a position to deny Carlos. I could have put on a show of feelng my shirt pocket and screaming “Good sweet thundering Christ, a large screeching bug is in my pocket. Get it out, get it out.” But I didn’t, I just couldn’t do that to Carlos. So I sat there, looking out the window, making as if I had no idea as to the source of the singing.
Once off the bus at our stop, I dashed through the rain to my apartment building, dropping off Carlos at his tree on the way. He thanked me for lunch, but no mention was made of the debacle on the bus. I think it best to let the whole thing rest.