Throughout history, women have been characterized as chatterboxes, windbags, motormouths, and et cetera. According to legend, we never shut up. I’d like to upset that little applecart right here and right now. Men are the big, fat blabbermouths. At least in the world of bugs — entomology to you brainy, scientific types.
Cicadas, defined as a homopterous insect with long, transparent wings, are a raucous bunch. We hear them on summer nights, filling the air with their loud, insistent droning. Maybe they’re partying, maybe they’re arguing, we don’t know. We do know the noise is the result of two membranes vibrating on their itty-bitty abdomens. Male abdomens. Not a peep from the females in the group . So, ha, take that.
Yesterday I heard them at lunch. That’s not good. When they pipe up during the daytime my heart sinks, free-falls into my shoes. Do you know what the sound of cicadas during daylight means? Summer is ending. Whoa, whoa, back up, has that been scientifically proven? Beats me, but I believe it. Summer is on the wane and I hate that.
Guess what other horror daytime cicadas unleash. Atrocious memories of summer camp: the food, the showers, the latrines, no TV, and that ever-present smell — leaf mold and mildew with a soupçon of latrine. Nose plugs should’ve been on the list of recommended equipment for campers to bring. It wasn’t. I spent two long weeks holding my nose, trying hard not to breathe.
You may be surprised to learn I was a member of the Girl Scouts. A Brownie, too. I’m just not clear on why my association with them ended — I think I quit, but suspension can’t be ruled out. Or expulsion. Girl Scout camp was probably the cause. I didn’t thrive there. I like indoor plumbing and electricity, the modern conveniences, always have.
Besides, Kumbaya is a drippy song, as is Michael Row Your Boat Ashore. Campfires and marshmallows are a good mix, though. And on two excellent occasions we crawled into barrels lined with quilts and got shoved down a hill. Whoever thought that up was a genius, in my 10-year old opinion. If we could’ve rolled down hills in a barrel all day everyday I wouldn’t have minded the smell. As much.
The tents we stayed in were straight out of M*A*S*H. Sturdy canvas jobs on wooden platforms, the flaps rolled up, slept four to a tent. We were perched high atop a steep ridge in heavily wooded surroundings. Every morning at the crack of dawn we were forced into a line, single-file, for a head count and the march to, urp, breakfast.
One morning, as I waited with pillow creased face and hair poking out, I glanced at the girl behind me. Her name was Susie, hand to God it was. I did a double take. Her face was covered in scratches and welts and bruises, swollen, she looked like a prizefighter, post-fight. ‘Holy cow,’ I gasped, ‘what happened?’ ‘I fell out of bed and rolled down the hill,’ she answered.
I laughed until my knees went weak. First aid would have been the appropriate Girl Scout response.
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