In this conversation, I thought I would share a couple examples of the things I consider odd and funny that happened to me over the last few weeks.
If you live in the south, they're a fact of life during the summer. They're ugly, loud and unrelenting in their sex life, or at least their mating calls.
I'm not about your in-laws — I'm talking about the ubiquitous (there's that word again) cicadas. They truly do have a face only a mother could love. And that mother would be well-served if she were terribly far-sighted. The little screechers come complete with distinctive red eyes that make them look a little scary to children and even adults who are bug-a-phobic.
There are more than 3,000 varieties of the cicadas around the world. I believe the loudest most determined of the lot (aurally speaking) live in south-central Alabama. Cicada experts at Auburn University explain the rather odd life-cycle of the bugs that as kids growing up in Geneva we called locusts. Cicadas rise out of the ground en masse at night as if given a secretive order from on high to show up and find a mate.
The oddest thing happened last week when my wife was blowing leaves off the driveway. Apparently the cicadas were attracted to the sound of the blower. Please note that I have not found any scientific evidence to support my theory that cicadas have an innate attraction to the screamingly loud electric blower we use to keep our driveway neat and tidy. But here's what happened just the other day.
Paula was using the electric leaf blower and the cicadas were in rare form screeching at the top of their lungs. Actually, they were scraping their drum-like, "singing structures" — or membranes — creating their unmistakable, raucous sound.
About that time, a large cicada flew up out of nowhere and landed near the business end of the blower. He and hung on for dear life for a few seconds, cast a red-eyed stare up at Paula, and with the blower going full blast, flew back to the safety of the wax myrtles nearby.
I must say I have never had a similar experience. But keep in mind that if the cicadas are out and about, there is a chance they may find you and your leaf blower irresistible, at least for a moment or two.
Last week, I found myself in a real predicament.
I had purchased an office chair back in winter and, for whatever reason, I had delayed putting it together until now. (I guess it wasn't hot enough.)
The thought of reading and then following directions written by a bunch of folks somewhere far, far away, did not appeal to me. It's a drastic understatement to say the old chair at the desk in our office had long since seen its better days.
The chair got quite a workout when we watched TV in the office. It was Paula's chair of choice. Being a rather tiny person she could easily get comfortable by pulling her legs up into the chair and wrapping herself with a light blanket. I should live so long.
Apparently it was a crowd favorite for our cats, especially the rather obese female we "inherited" from our younger son when he moved into a "no pets" apartment. (You've heard that story before, haven't you?)
Back to the story of the new chair and my struggle to put it together.
I begrudgingly admit the directions were clear and the writers went to great lengths to make sure they properly identified each bolt by length and circumference. As you probably know, reading how to put something together and actually putting it together are two very different things.
Finally, after reaching the end of my instructional understanding, I went against all that makes me male and asked my wife to help me. This was a GIANT opportunity for Paula to belittle my lack of construction savvy. But I must admit she didn't speak ill of my lack of skill at all. Instead she jumped in, and together we made relatively short order of what I considered to be at least a two-person task.
Four hands are always better than two, especially if two of those hands belong to someone who understands what the heck he or she is doing.
I promise that I'll ask for help earlier in my next frustrating project.