Oh, I guess I’m not sure it was Jiminy. He was completely covered in chocolate. I didn’t see a top hat or umbrella either. Still, I did feel a twinge of conscience, and that, after all, was The Cricket’s domain. And there were no immediate repercussions. My nose is clearly already at the maximum allowable size for a male human face. And besides, I engaged in no subterfuge. This time. Let me tell you what happened.
It began about a year ago. It was then I became the proud grandad of Crestin, the Crested Cressman Gecko. He joined the family under the caring tutelage of my 10-year old grandson Bryce. Canadian law (Bryce’s and Crestin’s homeland) did not require me to actually assume formal grandadship of Crestin, but I felt it was the only right thing to do. Every once in awhile, I do the right thing.
While visiting Bryce and Crestin shortly after Crestin’s familial induction, I noticed Bryce trying to feed the little critter baby food. Crestin chose not to indulge. Who could blame him? That’s when I knew Crestin was in fact my grand-gecko. He wanted meat! So Bryce feed him crickets. As I watched it all unfold, I suggested then to Bryce that he and I should also try crickets since we expected this member of the family to eat them. Again, it just seemed right.
Crestin liked them. Bryce wasn’t interested. I decided, as grandads do, to add chocolate to the equation. As everyone knows, proper cricket-dipping chocolate cannot readily be found in the province of Ontario so I deferred for a time.
Once home, I found some pre-dipped chocolate-covered insects of the family Gryllidae, noisy cousins of the grasshopper. In case you’re interested (or you are doubting my story’s verisimilitude), you can order them from www.teachersource.com. They’ve added sour cream and onion flavored. Perfect!
Since I was home in Illinois, and Crestin and Bryce were in Canada, I mailed some choco-coated crickets and worms to the Cressman household then staged an international cricket cuisine-sampling event through the magic of iPads and FaceTime.
Eating chocolate-covered crickets was a non-event to me, a veteran consumer of weird things. Hmmm. Let’s see. In my chomping career, I’ve tasted hot dogs (what’s in those again?), lady bugs, dollar bills (torn up and placed as lettuce on a Burger King Whopper), Rocky Mountain “oysters,” a wide variety of miscellaneous insects while my motorcycle face shield was in the up position, sticks, long-expired Marine Corps C-rations including my favorite, beef and rocks, Kentucky-fried Thumper, a giant raw rutabaga, “little donkeys of chicken” in the Dominican Republic, Bambi sausage, Canadian poutin, and probably some cat-meat tacos somewhere in northwest Indiana. It is important to note here that I have also completely avoided alcohol, generally the required lubricant for stunts such as these.
Chocolate-covered crickets? Nuthin’. But across the border, grandson Austin stepped up to the very literal plate. Long-nicknamed “Austin-tatious” by yours truly, bestower of all nicknames, this eight-year old daredevil sat ready, water bottle in one hand, chocolate-covered worm in the other.
After a quick countdown from three, we gobbled together. It was a great moment for international relations and family ties as Canadian and American, young and old, grandad and grandson, silly and well, silly, too, wolfed down milk- and white-chocolate covered insects to the cheers of the gathered family crowds in both countries. We were heroes. Goosebumps all around.
At the end of this episode, however, my experience won out. You see, I stopped at two. A man has to know his limits. This of course comes with the years under my belt. As I was still picking the last leg out of my teeth, Austin-tatious switched from worms to crickets and pounded down number three! In moments, he was kneeling before the porcelain throne and he’s a Baptist. This unfortunate conclusion in no way lessened Austin’s accomplishment. He became a founding member of the GDC (Grandad’s Daredevil Club).
Soon a YouTube video was published. As the Legend grew, others wanted to join the quest. Soon, three students in my Purdue COM 114 Speech Communication tasted crickets. This is significant because in my class, I am usually able to tie my stunts to some communication theory or concept. This time, I failed. So without even the promise of extra credit, three students devoured crickets.
Most recently, despite the threat of no more kisses from his wife, my son Brad did some hero work and ate a cricket. I didn’t let him eat alone. The club established a Kansas City connection.
All in all, many crickets have been consumed. To my knowledge, they are not on the endangered list. I do have some in my freezer in case you’re interested. The crickets actually taste okay. Think of a little Nestle’s Crunch with legs. The chocolate is surely not of the Godiva or Fannie May variety–more like the Palmer Hollow Easter Bunny quality, but passable.
My grand-gecko Crestin is doing well. He still enjoys his crickets plain. Austin, Brad, and I are searching out new challenges. And I like Jiminy. I hope he stayed out of the dip.