25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE BY ANGEL NUÑEZ
In this short story I will reveal why as a teacher I understand little pranks played by students in the classroom. I donít mean naughty behavior, but rather simple little pranks like flying a paper airplane across the classroom. I donít mean placing a frog or a lizard on the teacherís chair. I mean a prank that causes fun without embarrassing or hurting anyone. I am going to talk about the August Cricket. Do you know them?
The August Cricket is an insect, a bug, a cricket. It is about the size of a cockroach and during August it is mating season and the female has this peculiar way of attracting the male. Unlike the humans, the female does not put on her high heels, nor make up and a sexy outfit. Rather she attaches herself to a branch of the mangrove tree and emits this high pitched and penetrating squeal or noise. A female cricket can screech or cry so loud that you can hear her two blocks away. Now that is a serious sex-mating cry. In that way the female cricket is like some human males who make a lot of noise to attract the females.
So when you woke up one morning in early August (I heard the first one today in San Pablo) we would become excited and wanted to catch a female cricket to have fun. We would walk slowly and quietly into the mangrove and locate the cricket by its screech. Once you got a close range you simply trapped the cricket with the palm of the hand. Now by pressing on the cricketís abdomen, she would emit her piercing squeal. And here is the first part of the fun.
We would walk down the village feeling powerful because we could attract attention any time we wanted by pressing the abdomen of the cricket inside our matchbox. Do not place a cricket inside a plastic bag because it will suffocate. If you wanted to attract a girlís attention, press on the cricket. If you wanted mom to get upset and chase you out of the house so that you would not stay and so chores, press on the abdomen. Two kids would have a competition to see which cricket would squeal the loudest. The loser would have to back your box of shopping goods or would have to give you his pencil, depending on the bet. The cricketís squeal was also the fishermanís alarm clock as it would start squealing at the first rays of sunlight.
Now, listen to this, as students we would take the matchbox with a female cricket to the classroom, and whenever the teacher was distracted or had us bored, we would sneak into the pocket and press on the abdomen. The teacher would have a difficult time deciphering who was guilty. And every time we wanted a classroom laugh we would press on the abdomen. If three or four kids decided to do this, there would be chaos. If not caught, that was part of the fun. If the entire class was whipped, that was fun too. If the culprit was caught, he would get a severe whipping, and that too was part of the fun, after all you took the chance at the risk of getting a whipping only to bring fun to a boring class.
Therefore I say I understand kids who want to play a prank on the class or the teacher. I also understand that teachers must be creative and present interesting classes to prevent boredom. I also understand that some kids will play pranks to distract the teacher and prevent him or her from continuing with that incomprehensible maths or boring history sermon. If a cricket can be more interesting than a teacher, then the teacher has a little problem. I also understand that pranks are pranks and must be punished too. So after pressing the abdomen, you might have to press on your butt where you got the spanking. After the squealing of the cricket, there was the squealing of the child in a classroom twenty five years ago. Are there crickets anywhere else in Belize or the world? Please email me at [email protected] to let me know.