Gloria and Eduardo

bya Gabrielle at 4:05 AM

While we are on the subject of pets, I want to mention two certain someones I have failed to ever talk about on this little blog of mine. Why has it taken me this long? I don’t know. In the beginning I guess I was too upset. After that I guess I just had other things to talk about and eventually their pictures just got lost in the sea of all the others somewhere on my C drive. I think that is where they are stashed. So, here is there long over due featurette – the short story of my beloved Gloria and Eduardo.

For our National Week vacation in 2006, we decided to go to Shanghai since it was so close and on our to-do-list. I have several posts that mention our week there. You can go here, here, here, or even here to read about them. Even before I got to Shanghai, there was one thing I wanted to do because of something I had seen on ETV right before leaving. On the episode, they talked about all the things you could do in and around Shanghai and also mentioned some of the old traditions still popular.

And that was how I found out that it was possible to buy crickets as pets or as prize fighters. Yes, prize fighters. And yes, when I say crickets, I’m talking about the insect that chirps us through summer and the little guys that you see hopping through your front yard as you try to mow down the mile high grass you let grow far beyond what it should. Well, these are more of the green variety(not the common black ones that we are familiar with), but you understand.

I guess one could compare this act of aggression to dog fighting, except neither one of the cricket dies in the act of fighting. The weakest just gives up and cowers in the corner. This is what the TV show told me anyhow. Somehow or another, this sport became very popular and the crickets also became a symbol of luck for the Chinese.

Now wait, don’t go getting your ahead of yourself. I didn’t want to go buy a cricket to fight. I would never ever want to do that. But, you see, I’ve owned just about every kind of animal you can buy at a local pet shop, but I’ve never been able to buy a cricket, so I had to use this opportunity to add another weird creature to the big ol‘ long list of pets I’ve had during my interesting life. And that is exactly what I did.

After a day or so of being in Shanghai, I met up with fellow blogger, Louise, and she showed me around Shanghai and took me to some cool places that I other wise would have never found. After a fabulous lunch in expat central, where I had my first BLT in what at the time felt like ages, she took me to a pet market where they indeed had crickets as well as half a dozen other creatures for sell.

It wasn’t long until I found what I was looking for. Several vendors had stands set up with individual crickets in clear jars. It was pretty cool to hear so many crickets, with so many different songs, at one time. But man, they were noisy.

You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult picking out a cricket, but it was. I investigated each jar at several of the vendors to make sure I got the best, most healthy cricket. In the end though, it was the cricket that one of the vendors took out of a roll of newspaper and tossed on the table that I decided to buy. After Louise used the Chinese that she knew, which is so much more than mine, I agreed to pay the 30 yuan for the silent green cricket sitting ever so still on the counter. I had hoped that the vendor would have let us bargain, but she/he, I can’t remember now, wouldn’t budge. I paid the 30 yuan anyway and took off with my new cricket in hand.

The only thing my new cricket needed was a name. We talked about it for several minutes. Louise said that she(we decided that it was a she) it needed to be named after a good female artist since she was a natural singer after all. It was Louise who thought of it. And that is how my little cricket got the name Gloria. Louise got me a taxi and off she went in the other direction.

The entire way back to the Koala Youth Hostel where Phil and I were staying, Gloria didn’t make a sound. I figured she was just scared and that she would sing when she was ready. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Phil was still at the hostel because he was sick. I was going to give him Gloria as a part gag gift and a get well even though I knew it would be me taking care of her. When I got there I had Phil try to guess what I had bought him. When he asked if it was a live and I said yes, he looked all worried and said, “You didn’t buy me a cat did you?” He’s allergic.

“No, silly, I bought you a cricket!” I said pulling out Gloria from behind my back.

“A what?”

“A cricket. Meet Gloria.”

And that is when I decided to do something stupid. I decided to take Gloria out of her little jar.

OWWWW!” I screamed.

“What?” Phil asked.

“She bit me!”

I had no idea that crickets could bite and actually hurt, but man, I found out really quick. Crickets have strong little jaws. It didn’t break the skin or anything. But OW! It hurt! Poor little Gloria got flung across the room. Phil and I spent the next hour holding her and trying to get her used to us so that she wouldn’t try to bite me again. We even fed her. Crickets eat beans that look a lot like Lima beans and come in long fuzzy pods. She must have been starving because she woofed down her bean in no time flat.

Gloria sitting on my arm.

Only once or twice did Gloria try to jump away. Beside that, she sat very still in the palm of my hand. A few times she tried crawling up to my shoulder. It was if she didn’t know how to jump. I guess if I had lived in a rolled up piece of paper all my life, I wouldn’t know how to either. She was a tame cricket. The only tame cricket I had ever seen.

For the next 24 or 48 hours(I can’t recall how long it was now), Gloria didn’t make a sound. I was beginning to think that I had bought a broken cricket. So, to make sure she wasn’t completely broken, I convinced Phil that I wanted to buy her a friend and see if she just needed a companion.

Lucky for us, Phil’s friend and old roommate from college was in Shanghai the same week we were and was able to take us back to the pet market before we had to leave. And that is when we bought our second cricket, Eduardo. I actually got him for cheaper, for some reason, maybe perhaps because he came with his own little jar or maybe he was older or a different type of cricket. Who knows. I think I paid either 10 or 20 yuan for him. It’s been too long to remember exactly. I knew for a fact that he knew how to chirp. I heard him.

Gloria liked to cuddle in the small of fist. I think it kept her warm.

It wasn’t more than a few hours of putting the two of them together that the chirping began. It went on and on and on and on and didn’t seem like it would ever stop. Buying two crickets to talk to one another was probably the stupidest thing I could of thought of doing. The rest of the time in Shanghai and for the rest of their short lives- we didn’t get a lot of sleep. I can remember screaming “Shut up” a lot during their lives. It’s amazing how loud they could be.

Taking them back on the train was particularly funny. Before we had got on, I had told Gloria and Edwardo that they had to be quiet as if they could understand me. I didn’t want to get kicked of the train because of bringing crickets on board. To make sure they didn’t chirp I rattled the cages a little bit every once in a while. They were pretty quiet there for the first thirty minutes or so and then they started.

Shhhh,” I whispered into their cages. “Please be quiet.”

Ah, but it didn’t matter. The other Chinese passengers had heard and now they wanted to see what the laowai had with her. I reluctantly pulled them out of the bag I was carrying them in and placed their little cages on the table. The Chinese ewwwed and awwwed. Some asked how much I paid for them and where I got them. They thought it was really cool, so I no longer feared my crickets being taken away from me.

Eduardo sitting in his cage. Gloria had a bigger one made of wood. You can tell that it is Eduardo because he had darker eyes than Gloria, and he wasn’t nearly as friendly. He never tried to bite me though.

For the next three months, all was great. I fed Gloria and Eduardo their beans, gave them little treats I had picked up in Shanghai, and gave them fresh water every day. When we would have parties, I would take out Gloria and make her the smash hit of the party. She would sit in the small of my fist and make her rounds like a good cricket. Everyone thought I was crazy to have a cricket as pet, but they all wanted to hold her just the same.

Toward the end of the three months, I could tell they were getting old. They weren’t chirping as loud or as long. Their songs weren’t as vibrant as when I first got them. I knew that they wouldn’t be with me much longer.

One morning, late in December, Phil and I got up a little early because we wanted to go to Longmen Village, an old Chinese city built in the Ming dynasty. The night before, there was a party held at our place – I forget the occasion. It was probably someones birthday or something like that. I had done my normal thing and carried Gloria around introducing her to all the guests. All seemed normal at the time. But when I got up that morning and went into her room, I could tell something was wrong. She was laying a little on her side and there was a little blood on the paper towel lining the bottom of her cage. When I picked her up I knew immediately that she was dying. She bit me. Not nearly as hard as the first time three months ago, but enough to get my attention. She was scared and confused. She didn’t know who I was.

I spent the next two hours letting her sit on my hand and I’ll admit it, I cried. I know that she was just a cricket, but I still felt helpless that I couldn’t help her fell better. So, I let her sit out in the sun with two little beans beside her and put on a collection of music for her to listen to. I made sure that it would continue playing no matter how late we got back from Longmen Village.

Gloria in her final hours.

When we got back, she was lifeless. She was dead. I cried some more.

A day later, Eduardo died too. I like to think that he died of a broken heart.

With both of their bodies in a box, we carried them over to a pretty park with lots of trees behind the high school. It was a pretty park, and mostly quiet due to few people walking through it. The park was hilly, if not a little mountainous for Fuyang, so we found the highest peak, Phil dug the hole, and then we put both of them in together.

I said farewell to Gloria and Eduardo and cried all the way back home.

I never thought I would be able to say this, but I was the proud owner of the sweetest, cutest, crickets, a person could ever have. I often think of them when I’m falling asleep at night and can here their cousins chirp me to sleep. I’ll probably never think or see crickets the same way again. Go ahead and think me crazy if you wish, but I can’t help loving all animals and insects. It’s just who I am.

I miss them.

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