This Time It's Personal

The Night of The Crickets

Warning: Posts in this segment may contain language that is inappropriate and/or offensive to some readers.

Hello readers, it’s time for another story from the ridiculous life of Retro Dee… In the spirit of the Halloween season, I have the following tale to tell…

The Night of The Crickets

This is the story about the night the crickets invaded my bedroom. No, not Buddy Holly and The Crickets. I’m not that old, and I’d never be that lucky! 😀 (Get it? “Not that old and I’d never be–” Never mind.)

Seriously… this memory from my childhood is one that I will never, ever forget. We all have those terrifying experiences whether they are nightmares about monsters in the closet, memories of huddling under the bed during a violent storm, or being chased by a neighborhood dog. There’s always something, it seems, that we go through as children that haunts us for the rest of our lives.

This story takes place in a small, coastal town in northern California when I was about six years old. My parents were out for the evening and I was being babysat. The babysitter was a bitch and all she wanted to do was watch TV. She made me go to bed at 8 o’clock sharp. No bedtime story, nothing. She shut out my light, closed my door and resumed watching TV in the next room.

It was a warmer evening which is unusual for northern California, on the coast, particularly. I remembered hearing crickets chirping outside, not long before bedtime. They seemed louder than normal. I always paid close attention to my surroundings, and was acutely aware of anything different. Yes, the crickets seemed to be unusually noisy that night…

As I lay in bed, I quickly realized that I could still hear the crickets chirping. They seemed louder than ever before. I tried to block the sound out by covering my ears, but it didn’t work. It got louder and louder still, as if there were crickets just inches from my head.

Finally, I got up out of bed and ran into the next room where the babysitter was watching TV.

“I hear crickets! They’re in my room,” I told her.

She told me that there were NO crickets and to go back to bed. But I insisted, there were crickets in my room. Finally, she got up and went to check it out.

She stood there with her hands on her hips and looked around.

“I don’t see any crickets,” she said. “Go back to bed.”

“But I hear them,” I said. “It’s coming from there.”

I pointed to the table next to my bed. On that little table stood a ceramic green lamp, surrounded by some of my favorite things: a couple of Beatrix Potter books, a piggy bank, a small ceramic cat figurine and a snow globe with Snoopy kissing Lucy inside.

“There are no crickets in your room,” the babysitter said, covering me up. “Go to sleep.”

I had no choice but to pull the covers over my head and try to drown out the sound with my pillow. No matter what I did, I couldn’t block out the monotonous, shrill chirping.

Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep!

It just kept getting louder. I was almost afraid to move or put a hand outside of the covers. What if one jumped on me? Do they bite?! I wondered.

I was not an outdoorsy kind of kid, and I was afraid of everything, except for cats. But even so, let’s be honest; who wants to sleep in a room full of winged, hopping insects with long twitching antennae? Even if you’re the camping type, you don’t want them at home in your bedroom. That’s just fucking creepy.

I lay there helpless, until finally, my parents came home. I got back up out of bed. The babysitter had gone home and I told my mom that there were crickets in my room and on no uncertain terms!

My mom believed me. She went into my room with me and we turned on the light. And there, behind the Snoopy snow globe sat a cricket, chirping its heart out! My mom swatted at it and it leapt off the night table. I was too terrified to scream. I just stood there, my eyes wide with horror.

I honestly don’t recall what happened next. I know that the cricket was either caught, smashed and disposed of, but it was removed from my room either way.

After some reassurance from my mom, I went to back to bed. But I could still hear chirping, not as loud as before, but it still sounded like there were crickets nearby.

I guess I eventually went to sleep. The next day my mom found another cricket under the Peter Rabbit latch hook rug at the foot of my bed.

For days afterwards, I was afraid to go to sleep. Not quite terrified, but leery. I kept wondering if I’d hear that horrible, rhythmic cheep cheep cheep… the incessant call of a winged insect that can hop a distance of three feet at a time. An ugly little bug with long antennae which seemed to have a mind of their own…

I told my friends at school about the incident during recess. My friend Amanda said that one night there were fourteen crickets in her room and her brother was stomping on them. Somehow, I didn’t believe her, even though I really wanted to. Amanda was known for tall tales. And fourteen crickets seems like an exaggeration. Although, I will say that we only found two in my room and it sounded like there could have been fourteen.

After that traumatic event, it’s a wonder that I can still look at Jiminy Cricket with fond eyes. It’s a wonder that I find Cri-Kee from Mulan cute. And it’s ironic that my favorite band of all time is called “The Crickets”. Despite it all, I don’t have any real issues with crickets. Except that I will say that I’m not keen on those old ads of Buddy, Jerry and Joe with their heads stuck on crickets bodies… or the little antennae that were drawn on them. They looked like like something out of a B horror movie. Way to ruin a girl’s crush! I don’t think the music industry had the boy band marketing aspect down pat just yet.

But I digress…

Sometimes on a warm night, I go outside and listen to the crickets:

Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep!

As I listen to their pretty little song, I wonder in the back of my mind if I’ll ever find another one in my room. I begin to think back to that night when I was six years old and I feel anxious all over again. Then I just remind myself, it’s okay. That’s what heavy books are for.




cricket graphic from clipart-library