Buggin’ Out, Sleepin’ In: What Happens When a Brood X Cicada Misses His Wake-up Call

    One snug bug sings a song of despair

    “Billions of cicadas that have spent 17 years underground are set to emerge across large areas of the eastern US,…bursting into the open as adults in mass synchronized events.” — The Guardian

    Ahhh good morning! I can’t believe it’s here! After 17 years underground, it’s finally time for all of us to emerge. Together. Like a family. Or better yet, like a fraternity of my best new pals. My Brood! Brood Boys! After a lifetime with our faces buried in the dirt, it’s time to look up and hook up, right guys? 


    Where my boys at? You in that dirt over there? Frankie? Timmy? Timbo? Tim-Tom? Toby? Toobie? Tink? Jeremiah? I’ve heard you digging around over the decades, now it’s time to show me your beautiful big-bug faces! Is everyone pre-gaming? C’mon, someone toss me a Natty Light!

    Pals? Brood Boys?

    Uh oh. 

    Noooooo! Those bastards emerged without me! 

    “I need a silk eye-mask,” I said. “I want a weighted blanket,” I said. I made it too comfortable! I flew too close to the metaphorical sun, which prevented me flying close to the real sun, shrieking like a maniac, with all my new chummy chums by my side! 

    Stupid, stupid, stupid. Jim, everything your parents said about your evolving nymph form was right. You’re a failure. A failure, and a fool. How could you even think you’re responsible enough to fertilize a bunch of eggs that will become nymphs that you’ll never meet? Maybe this is for the best. Not everyone is meant to be a father, Jim. 

    Dang though. How could my pals leave me like that? My Brood! Brood Boys 2021! I was gonna suggest we all get matching tattoos, 2 billion cicadas emerging in unison. 

    Maybe if I head out now I can still make it to the tail end of the synchronized swarm? No. That’s ridiculous. I’m sure everyone’s already broken out of their exoskeletons by now. I show up looking like this, I’ll be roasted worse than Flava Flav at the Friar’s Club.

    Listen to them out there. Wings shrieking at 100 decibels. Partying like a plague that’s descended on MTV’s Spring Break. I should be out there making everyone think it’s the end times too!  

    Think. Figure something out. You can say you hung back to … no. No one “hangs back.” We wait 17 years for this! They’ll see right through you. Besides if I go out now, all the good mating will have already happened. I’ll be stuck with one of the freaks! Or worse: one of those chicks who wants me to stick around after fertilization. 

    What if …I stay underground for 17 more years and then just emerge in time for the next one? I’ll even go out a day or two early at that point, just to be safe. I’ll make new friends! Younger, hotter friends. “How do you do, fellow kids?” Or like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed.

    Okay. It’s okay. It’s gonna be fine. 

    I’ll have some coffee with whisky, brush my teeth, and wait for everyone else to die. Shouldn’t be much longer. Yeah, you’re alone, but who cares? We all enter the world alone and leave it alone. This is just life, man. On the bright side, I have nine seasons of The Office to binge! Thank god for the golden age of television.

    Claire Friedman is an Emmy-nominated writer who won a Peabody Award for her work on Saturday Night Live. Her comedy has been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and The Harvard Lampoon.

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