Friday, July 24, 2009

Encounter with the Cricket Vendor

July 22

I was walking back from the corner store eating my salty lemony popsicle when I decided to stop and take a look. A guy had strings of tiny woven baskets containing really big crickets hanging up in a big arch from the back of his bike. The baskets had a soybean pod sticking in, or out, for the crickets to snack on while they were singing. What a powerful noise that comes from such a relatively small bug. I watched as a mother and daughter bought one. The vendor took a scissors and cut one of the baskets free from the cricket basket arch. The mom held it up to her ear to see if she got a lively one. She nodded, paid the 5 yuan (7 yuan is about a dollar) and they were off.

The vendor turned to me and said something, and took my hand so he could “help” me touch the bug. Okay—how much skin to bug contact can be made through the basket? I went along with his little charade.

He thought that was so funny when I ultimately yanked my hand away. I think it was a flesh seeking cricket and it got bigger and feistier when my hand got closer. Just one tiny touch was enough for me, I didn’t need a handshake with the thing. Okay thanks then—wow! Nice bugs! Bu-bye!

I must have made it almost to my hotel when I felt a shoulder tap. The guy followed me down the block to tell me something. He grabbed my hand and put it flat. He stuck the raw, uncaged, wild bug directly in my hand and tried to wrap my stiffened fingers around it and the dang thing bit me—or at least it sure felt like it. My bug-touch-catapult-reflex sent it airborne down the sidewalk where the man caught it and was laughing. Ha ha. One-way laugh.

He seemed enthusiastic and told me important things. When I tilted my head and chuckled, he said it louder, slower, and closer to my face—the international way to make someone understand. He pointed to the cricket, pointed to the cricket cages, and pointed at me while he was saying loud slow things I couldn’t get. I’m pretty sure he wanted me to take the little guy home—after all we had bonded.

At this point, my popsicle was down to the stick. My curiosity was satisfied (sorta) and there was nowhere else for this funny conversation to go. I thought quickly; I pointed to the fake watch on my wrist and pumped my arms like I was in a big hurry. Oh yes, we all understand, yes! I must go now! So sorry! He waved bye and I scurried off. Whew! I almost became an unwilling bug mom.

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