One fine afternoon, rock* and I were in the front room, dicking around online. The year was 2006, and it was approaching finals week and the accompanying holy water crusade against those bastards the next block over. In 2005, we’d launched a pretty good shmear campaign against PKT by printing out posters advertising the “grope the pope” and “condoms: use, reuse, recycle” parties that were to be held at PKT. We felt a strong desire to one-up our efforts from the last year, and the propaganda campaign was on our minds and lips while we searched google for silly pranks and german scheise-porn. As if by divine providence, an ad popped up in google’s sidebar that answered our prayers: “5,000 crickets for $50″
Sometimes God is staring you in the face, and you have to smile. I have no idea why anyone would sell thousands of crickets over the internet, why google was showing us an ad for feeder crickets, and what in our search for german shit-porn could possibly have given google the idea that we were in the market for crickets. Everything about the idea that I can type a credit card number into a website, and a few days later, thousands of insects will arrive at a destination of my choice–it doesn’t just seem strange. If someone described this possibility a few hundred years ago, nobody would have bothered to burn him as a heretic. Why waste the wood? They’d just mock him as a madman. There was no doubt about it–the world we were living in was just too weird. Rock* and I looked at the screen, looked at each other, and in an instant, our fates were sealed. This would be the best propaganda war EVER!
Three to five business days later, the brothers were inquiring about the tall, slightly wobbly tower of ten chirping boxes that were stacked up in the center room. It dimly registered on my mind that we had 5,000 crickets and no plan, but we soldiered on. The plan, we boldly claimed, was to mock those bastards, and damned if we’re not going to do it with crickets! So we looked around and found the name of a hapless PKT sophomore, and somehow found the name and address of his parents. Xerxes photoshopped up a shipping label from Amazon.com Gifts!, to make it look like this guy’s parents were sending him a care package for finals. I made some half-assed spring-loaded mechanism to fling the contents of a cardboard box out when it was opened. And Leslie had an outfit that looked a lot like a UPS deliverywoman. There–we had a plan.
But as the song goes, every rose has its thorn. Getting ten boxes full of five hundred rapidly moving insects into one delivery box is a daunting task. In our infinite wisdom, we didn’t make our delivery box ten times the size of one of the cricket boxes. It was maybe twice the size. Those crickets were going to be squished. It may be that only a tEp could conceive of a plan this stupid, but really, the way to know that this was a teply plan was just to wait for the inevitable backfire.
Rock* and I correctly identified the possibility that crickets would escape during the transfer from their boxy homes to the delivery box. “uh-oh,” we said, “this could be messy. Better do it outside.” Obstacle identified, corrective action suggested–tEps are tops! Sadly, tEps are also lazy. The nearest outdoor area was the roof.
And so one fine spring morning, rock* and I stood around on the roof, ripping open boxes of crickets with xacto blades and trying to herd the crickets into another, small box. Crickets behave something like an ideal gas that chirps. You have to do a great deal of work to compress them. Crickets will expand to fill the available volume. As it turns out, herding crickets is not easy, and we went through all 5,000 crickets to get maybe 500 crickets into the delivery box. The other 4,500? No problem. They’d just hop away. After all, we did this outside. We taped up our package, Leslie put on her UPS deliverywoman’s outfit, and we dropped it off, snickering, outside PKT. The plan was in motion.
The Hebrews have a saying: “Man plans, God laughs.” As it turns out, crickets, along with eited raisins, bouncers and brothers flying from a whumph! bag, are subject to the inexorable pull of gravity. This became apparent later that evening when the walls on the fourth and fifth floors began to chirp. The 4,444 escaped crickets from the roof had started to trickle downwards. God was chuckling.
You may recall that water war takes place in the week just before finals. This makes it an inopportune time to unleash a biblical plague onto your own home. But it rapidly became apparent that this was exactly what we’d done. Crickets were EVERYWHERE. The house sounded like a deafeningly loud summer field, around the clock. I remember going into one of the third floor bathrooms one morning to brush my teeth, and crickets were crawling up from the sink drain. Panicking, I turned on the tap, and crickets came out of the tap! Twelve hours after the cricket transfer, god wasn’t just laughing. He was on the floor, lHao, in danger of getting a hernia. Meanwhile, we were smashing crickets by the score and frantically trying to cram for finals. The house had the unpleasant odor of an entomological supply shop.
Twenty-four hours after the cricket release, our package was still outside of PKT. I was starting to feel the pangs of conscience. I’d opened pandora’s box, and it was full of loathsome, chirping bastards. And I’d only opened it up on the roof. Imagine what a spring-loaded pandora’s box would do in someone else’s home. Cricket warfare is truly no laughing matter.
I felt like it wasn’t too late, so I started spoofing fake MIT email addresses and sending notes to the PKT sophomore with pithy little anecdotes designed to clue him in on the severity of the situation. Here’s one I dug up, send from firstname.lastname@example.org:
I was walking down commonwealth avenue and saw an elderly man and woman talking to one another on the sidewalk. The man asked the woman, “Did you happen to receive any packages recently.”
“I’m not sure,” the woman replied.
“Well, if you do, I’d open them outside,” the man said
a concerned friend
For days, life at 253 descended further down the rungs of hell, but the package remained outside PKT. I sent a couple more emails to the sophomore, but it had rained a couple times, and it didn’t seem like anyone was going to take the sodden cardboard mess inside. I snuck up to it one night and held my ear up to the box, and there was only one feeble chirp coming from inside. Finally, I ran into some PKTs on the saferide.
“Hey,” I asked them, “I’m just curious. Why didn’t you take in that package outside your house?”
“You mean the chirping one?” they said
“um….maybe. was it chirping? I don’t know. I wouldn’t know. Anyway, why didn’t you take it in?”
“…because…it was chirping, dude”
After another week, the crickets had largely been eradicated from the walls of the haus, and you could only catch the faintest waftings of the unpleasant gryllids. Finals passed without incident, and we totally hosed down those clueless PKT bastards in a heroic battle (or not–I actually don’t remember a single thing about the actual water war). And so ends the saga of the crickets, the most perfect backfiring in the history of plans.