The fact is, I never thought the cricket would make it to the other side.
Three of us were on our way back to Atlanta from Las Vegas and were changing planes in Dallas. It was 3 am, and the flight was delayed. The cleaning people had left, and the concourse was deserted.
The cricket was clearly lost and was probably trying to find an agent so he could get to the right gate. We felt sorry for him, but none of us spoke cricket.
Just when our compassion for a fellow traveler was stalled by a language barrier, the cricket decided to cross from the outside wall to the gate.
This was evidently a non-hopping breed of cricket. Instead of bounding across the stained industrial carpet that is an airport staple, the cricket trudged.
(To prevent a flood of comments from the legion of entomologists who slavishly read this online journal, all three of us were aware that the bug might not be a cricket. Frankly, it didn’t matter what it was; cricket was a handy name.)
John: “It’s a cricket. Look.”
Tom: “What’s a cricket doing in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport at 3 a.m.”
Me: “Probably missed his plane.”
Me: “He’s headed toward the gate.”
John: “I bet you a dollar he doesn’t make it.”
Tom: “I’ll take that bet.”
John: “Somebody will come along and step on him.”
Me: “There hasn’t been another person in this concourse since Texas declared its independence from Mexico. I’m with Tom.”
Tom: “What if he doesn’t make it because he turns around?”
Me: “Or decides to take a nap?”
Tom: “Or dies of old age.”
Me: “Or says ‘screw it’ and takes his own life.?”
John: “There’s no historical proof that a cricket has ever committed suicide. He still won’t make it. If he’s not on the other side by the time our flight comes in, the bet stands.”
Me: “That cricket will have 2 grandchildren and be wearing black socks with Bermuda shorts before our flight comes.”
Tom: “Listen now, I have to be home by Christmas.”
Me: “Christmas is six months from now.”
Tom: “Details, details.”
John: “Pay attention, gentlemen, the cricket has begun the journey.”
Me: “Not exactly an overwhelming burst of speed.”
Tom: “But he’s showing a lot of discipline and heart. That’s important in an athlete.”
John: “An athletic cricket?”
Tom: “No ordinary cricket would attempt something like this. At the minimum he’s been working out. Probably runs 50 feet a day to stay in shape.”
Me: “I’m not sure bugs have hearts.”
Tom: “Sure they do. How else would the blood get to the rest of their body?”
John: “Bugs don’t have veins.”
Tom: “Then tell me how the blood gets through their body.”
Me: “No blood.”
Tom: “That’s nuts.”
Me: “You know that yellow gunk that comes out of a bug when you stomp on it before your dog eats it?”
Me: “Maybe that’s their version of blood.”
John: “The cricket is approaching the halfway mark.”
Tom: “Uh oh.”
Tom: “Somebody’s coming.”
(It is at this point in this stirring drama of life and imminent death in a deserted Texas airport that John had a change of heart.)
John: “Come on, cricket, move it!”
Me: “I thought you wanted him to lose.”
John: “That’s before I got to know the cricket.”
Tom: “Got to know the cricket.?”
John, “Yeah, I feel like we’ve bonded somehow.”
Just after the cricket crossed the center line and missed getting stepped on our flight was called. We had no choice but to leave the cricket in mid-concourse. A few passengers backed away from us as we shouted last words of encouragement to the cricket. And then we were gone.
Several weeks later the three of us had lunch to do a postmortem on the show. The conversation, as I am confident you already know, quickly turned to the cricket.
John: “I wonder if the cricket made his flight?”
Me: “There are hundreds of flights out of DFW every day …”
Tom: “Not in the middle of the night …”
John “Well, there is that …”
Me: “And zillions of people walk up and down those concourses every day. It’s a big world fraught with disaster at every turn.”
Tom: “He made it. I know that for a fact.”
Me: “You had a psychic connection to the cricket?”
John: “Oh come on, you have no idea if the cricket made it or not.”
Tom: “Sure I do. Remember when I had to get off the airplane and go back and get something I left in the gate area?”
Me: “You didn’t.”
Tom: “I moved him. I took him over to the wall, pointed him toward the terminal, and gave him a little push. Pay it forward.”
Me: “So the next time somebody’s lost in the middle of the night at DFW, you hope the cricket will show the poor soul where the terminal is and then give them a little kick in the rear?”
Tom: “It’s only right. You should do unto a cricket as you would have the cricket do unto you.”
John: “Eat your soup.”
Tom: “Yeah, OK.