A Matter of Taste (Part 1)

May 21, 2004

The seventeen-year cicadas are back. I still have fond memories of that glorious summer when I was surrounded by a swarm of screaming seventeen-year old red-eyed monsters flying in every direction looking for a chance to mate. But enough about that Midnight Oil concert. The summer before that the cicadas came out and no one could walk down a sidewalk without hearing a sickening yet satisfying crunch-crunch-crunch. And then there was the noise. If you’ve never experienced the delights of hearing seven hundred billion male cicadas screaming their equivalent of "Single male cicada, non-smoker, enjoys movies, candlelight, tree sap ISO female cicada loaded with unfertilized eggs" from dawn to dusk during the longest days of the year, you can get some idea of what it’s like. Here’s how: record the noise made by a chainsaw, combine it with "The Macarena Song", and play at full volume. Do this continuously for eighteen hours.

Every time the cicadas come out people come up with creative uses for them. Last time a friend of my parents named Bob McComb decided he’d make paperweights out of them. He asked me, the closest thing to an entomologist he knew, to collect a hundred. This took about thirty seconds. This time around I understand people are trying something completely different: eating the cicadas. I heard on the radio that a guy sauteed cicadas with olive oil and basil and ended up in the hospital with a severe allergic reaction. Let that be a lesson to you: make sure you’re not allergic to basil before trying this recipe.

But I digress. A friend of mine mentioned that Native Americans used to eat cicadas, but then again when you’re living the hunter-gatherer life you’ll eat just about anything. Native Americans also used to cure headaches by chewing willow bark until someone said, "Hey, this bark tastes just like aspirin!" I know people in various parts of the world, mostly where there’s nothing else available, eat insects, but somehow it’s never caught on here. I don’t know whether I could bring myself to try it. I like to think of myself as an adventurous sort of guy who’ll eat just about anything as long as it’s not got green peppers in it, but I might have to draw the line at insects. Sure, insects are high in protein and have zero fat, salt, or cholesterol, making them healthy even when deep-fried, but think about this: hunter-gatherers who ate insects had an average life span of thirty years. Modern humans, who eat crap loaded with fat, salt, and cholesterol, have an average life span of around seventy years. Who’s really unhealthy here? Maybe there’s a reason some cultures have a taboo against eating insects.

To put it bluntly, cicadas don’t just fly around and make noise. They also urinate when stressed. What stresses a cicada? Flying into a person who’s minding his own business and crunching down the sidewalk. If they urinate at the slightest provocation I hate to think what they’d do in the deep-fryer.

Next week: I admit I might try cicadas after all.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


The difference between men and women

1. NAMES
If Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara go out for lunch, they will call each other Laurie, Linda, Elizabeth and Barbara. 
If Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.

2. EATING OUT
When the bill arrives, Mark, Chris, Eric and Tom will each throw in $20, even though it’s only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back. 
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

3. MONEY
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need but it’s on sale.

4. BATHROOMS
A man has five items in his bathroom: a toothbrush, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from the Marriott. The average number of items in the typical woman’s bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify most of these items.

5. ARGUMENTS
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

6. FUTURE
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

7. SUCCESS
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can
spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

8. MARRIAGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change and she does.

9. DRESSING UP
A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the garbage, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail. 
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

10. NATURAL
Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

11. OFFSPRING
Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams. 
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

12. THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Any married man should forget his mistakes. There’s no use in two people remembering the same thing.

AND FINALLY…
A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, jack asses, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?" 
"Yep," the wife replied, "in-laws."

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