The Way of The Cricket

When I was in high school I was an usher at a movie theater.  I got paid 40¢ an hour, so if I worked lots of hours I could knock down fifteen/twenty bucks a week.  That was beer money and the occasional shirt.  Always had something folding in my pocket. Didn’t have to ask anybody for anything. Felt like freedom to me. Of course, I didn’t have much time for my schoolwork.

Those warm Texas evenings brought out the crickets. They’d try to invade the theater. Swarms of them. Hoards. Many, many thousands would come onto the concrete apron in front of the theater. They’d come up out of the gutter, over the curb and press on toward our entrance. Looking for the light, I supposed. We didn’t want our paying guests to have to crunch and slide their way up to the box office, so I’d take the push-broom and start pushing crickets back into the street. I was stronger, but they were many. This could go on for a couple of hours, and then they’d just call it off. They’d try it again tomorrow.

Olmos Theater – San Antonio, Texas

That’s the way I remember it, anyway. The crickets might tell a different story if crickets can tell a story.

What if I’d put down my broom and allowed the crickets to seek their destiny? They would have swarmed the lobby no doubt creating disgust and horror. And it might well have crossed my mind to let them do it, because I was contrary back then and prone to pranks.

But I never did. I did what I was paid to do. I liked my job and I thought I was free. Even so, sometimes I’d think…  Man, is this as far as I get?

I still ask that question.

That was a long time ago and I’ve had many jobs since and in some ways they haven’t been all that different from my usher job. More complicated and better paid maybe but not different – some flow of energy needs to be resisted, or some flow of energy needs to be helped along.

The deep common underlying the myriad difference…

Does the cricket turn to the light or does the light turn the cricket?

Would the light turn me if I just shut up?

Is this as far as I get?

I have learned that for some questions the answer arrives in the form of no more question.

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7 responses to “The Way of The Cricket

  1. Well there’s sweeping back the sea and there’s shuffling the chairs on the Titanic (my husband’s favorite ananlogy for our lives) and now there’s sweeping crickets in Texas.
    I say let them creep and sweep sweep sweep. I once was accosted by crickets or locusts or some nasty ass face smacking flying winged things in a phone booth in Southern Texas. I was a teenager. I still remember it because it was so “The Birds”. I wish some tall handsome stranger had been around with a broom even if he was Don Quixote. Or especially if he was.

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  2. It always amazes me where my thoughts go when I read your writings.

    Today your musings took me back to 5th grade when Mr. Task drafted me to be the lead in the 5th grade play…care to guess?

    I had to be the Cricket, in The Cricket in Times Square.

    And there I was, shy and feeling utterly alone, in my black cricket costume, trying to remember my lines and play out the character of Chester the cricket. At the time, I was annoyed with Mr. Task beyond belief. WHY would he demand that I be Chester…me…the quiet mousey one who preferred to do nothing more than be quiet in class and have my nose in a book . Not being one to disappoint, I felt I had no recourse but to play the part. So there I was, on stage in front of what felt like millions, pouring my little heart and soul into Chester, and bringing this “plucky and overwhelmed” cricket to life as best as I could.

    Fast forward to today. I read your blog and poof, I’m right back there in 5th grade. It prompted me to go and look up the book and what it was even all about. Made me wonder if Mr. Task saw something in me that didn’t flicker until I read your blog….great teachers have a magical way about them that makes time stand still and lessons to be learned may not to be fully realized until their time…whatever time that may be. Made me wonder if Mr. Task was a bit ahead of his time, encouraging our young minds to venture down the path of abandoning the “good life” in favor of something more peaceful, more meaningful. Once again, Mr. Task and the memory of him, simply made me wonder.

    Something tells me you and Mr. Task would have gotten along just fine…sweeping crickets away from the light and back into the magical simplicity of the night. Towards the light or away from the light matters not…just knowing that there IS light is of comfort, to creatures great and small, crickets and pixies alike…

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