Emma headshot

Apparently, as luck would have it, it’s the year of the cicadas.

Sigh. Can we get a break? A pandemic, forest fires, political turmoil and Sean Connery’s death? Have we not been through ENOUGH over the last 10-plus months that we now need to add insect swarms to the list?

Annoying as heck, ugly as sin, and they destroy plants? What exactly is the purpose of a cicada?

I mean, they come up out of the ground after a number of years to do what? Annoy everyone around them, mate and die? Eat up all the trees? Land on people and terrify them?

I remember 1 summer in Fredericksburg where it was cicada-geddon. It was my older brother Nate’s high school graduation; my parents and I were standing in line outside, waiting for our turn to find a seat in the crowded, sweaty gymnasium (do you remember when we could gather in big groups? It seems like forever ago). The cicadas were having their buzz-fest outside, and here and there you’d see a black blob float past: a cicada, attempting to cut in line to get in the gym.

Maybe they wanted a good seat. Have you ever BEEN to a high school graduation? It’s bedlam; I can’t condone cutting in line.

Anyway, I remember a lady standing near the door. I remember her because she was wearing a red and white knee-length dress with a full skirt. My mother and I stood, mouths agape, watching as a cicada sneakily landed on the back of this lady’s skirt, crawled down to the hem and disappeared into the underside of her dress.

Rest in peace to that lady’s soul when she found out a cicada was up her skirt.

Reason number 29,394 to hate cicadas: they sneak up women’s skirts. What a world it is we live in.

At the end of that summer, when all the cicadas were dying and their shrill buzzing was more like a labored clicking sound, the insects lazily lurched through the air of our backyard.

My little brother and I stood, en garde, tennis rackets poised and ready to strike.

I don’t know if you’ve ever whacked a dying cicada with a tennis racket, but the phrase “high hilarity” comes to mind. I’m sure there’s an animal cruelty case in there somewhere.

Look: I’ve never been a bug person. My family used to subscribe to that kid’s nature magazine “Ranger Rick,” and I remember loving flipping through those glossy pages, taking in all the photos of frogs, lions, parrots and all manner of wildlife.

That is, until there was a bug on the cover. A high-resolution, close-up picture of, say, a katydid or a praying mantis.

Or (shudder) a cicada.

I couldn’t even touch the magazine at that point. I don’t do creepy crawlies. I don’t do flying things. Even critters that society deems beautiful (butterflies, I’m looking at you), I want nothing to do with them.

Let’s think back to my unfortunate experiences with wildlife in my apartment. Stinkbugs. Birds in my closet. Birds attacking me on my porch. Cricket-spider hybrids lying in wait under my dresser. And, of course, the mice.

My track record is not a good one. If 2021 is the year of the locust plague, then my apartment is going to be Egypt. I can already tell. I can feel it. My spidey senses (cicada-y senses?) are tingling.

As Moses would say, “Let my people, including Emma, go.”

If I end up with cicadas in my apartment, I’m not sure who I’m going to call. DNR? The Mayor? My job to put in a request for a personal day? My priest? The police? My mom?

(That’s probably the most likely outcome.)

In any case, I need to cicada-proof my apartment now, so that when the swarms start emerging from the depths of hell (or wherever they come from), I will be prepared to wage war.

I’m ready to be a buzzkill.

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