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I’m a Cicada. You’re a Horny Human. We Are Not the Same

by | May 30, 2021 | New, News

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

— Benjamin Franklin

Editor’s note: In the eastern United States, trillions of Brood X cicadas are emerging from the ground, just as millions of Americans are emerging from their homes and enjoying eased Covid-19 restrictions. Many humans delight in this parallel. WIRED commissioned one cicada for its take.

What has six legs, is reemerging after being isolated for eons in its own anal fluids, and just wants to bone all summer long? You, you vaccinated horndog, shedding your grubby sweatsuit exoskeleton and so eager to scurry about for sex, brunch, and spiked seltzers that you’ve practically sprouted extra limbs.

WIRED OPINIONABOUT

Brood X Cicada is a Brood X cicada based in the backyard garden of a retired math teacher in West Virginia. This is his first and last published piece.

OK, the anatomically correct answer is me, a Brood X cicada. Me me me me meee—you’ll hear me singing that all summer long as I try to stick my adaegus into every spermatheca hanging out on the maple tree trunk, if you catch my drift. After 17 years in the dirt, and a psychedelic fungus that’s taken the lower half of my body and also somehow supernovaed my sex drive, I’m up for a boinking or several hundred. But I see you, inoculated human, want to be me: posting your thirst traps, flexing your pecs, and flocking to dating apps so aggressively that some public health researchers are predicting a monsoon of STIs in the post-vax Summer of Love.

Let’s get one thing straight: Just because I’m also horny doesn’t mean I’m your hero. I appreciate the attention after so many years underground—I feel like Matthew Perry must’ve felt stepping back onto the Friends set for the first time since 2004—but I’m not the spirit animal of the overstimulated, the patronus of White Boy Summer. I’d sooner have you steam me into your cauliflower soup or puree me into your guacamole than be your mascot for your post-pandemic pound town parade. You and me, pal, we’re different.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would I take advice from a cicada? After all, I haven’t been around since Omarosa lost on The Apprentice and Usher’s “Burn” was the song of the summer. And after spending 15 months taking notes from Fauci, your governor, and your mom, you may feel like the last thing you need right now is to be lectured by an insect. But this is exactly what you need, you titillated, wingless goon. The analogizing stops here.

For one, you’re at the top of the food chain, while I can only slurp plant juices. Even serious scientists are likening cicadas to “all-you-can-eat tree shrimp.” You’re on Kimmel cracking jokes about how cicadas make a great pork substitute, while I’ve got to get busy porking who I can, when I can, before I get eaten by a squirrel, robin, dog, or you.

Despite your sudden fascination, we’ve been doing this without issue for 40 million years. You people, on the other hand, have been trying out this summer sex fest thing for about four minutes, and it’s already a hell of a lot weirder than cicada sex. Here’s how the magic happens for us: The males—tymbals out for the boyz!—squeeze their jacked abs together so tight that they screech louder than a Hoobastank concert. This is our one and only pick-up line, which barely enjoys middling success. If the females don’t flick us off with their wings in disgust, we go at it for over an hour, barely moving. Sometimes a raccoon will devour us mid-shtup, and if not we die pretty much immediately post-shtup. (For a steamy beach read, check out ecologist John Cooley's 347-page overview of how we boff.) Meanwhile, your mating rituals consist of swiping your oily paws at photos on your giant phones, and then asking the people in those photos which pharmaceutical company’s vaccine they got—as a pickup line! How romantic.

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I hope I’m not coming off as a sexual stick in the mud—which is, come to think of it, a fantastic place for cicadas to do it. You won’t catch me denying love is love as I stomp on my mate’s eyeballs with all six of my ticklers while a white plug of spores where my ass used to be eats me alive. But what you’re on about for this post-vax summer isn’t love. It’s lust on par with a fungal-induced psychosis.

But here’s another way you and I differ: The cure to your horniness is within you. I’ve got about six weeks to live and a brain the size of a pumpkin seed. Yes, you’ve lost time, and loved ones—I don’t mean to belittle your struggle. But most of you comparatively still have your whole lives ahead of you, and you purportedly have cerebrums (though your Twitter wars, war wars, and fixation with The Masked Singer suggest otherwise). I know the parallels between us are tempting: We cicadas crawling out of our crusty nymph selves to emerge as googly-eyed, awkward imagos, singing to anyone willing to bump uglies; you humans crawling out of your bread-crust-filled apartments to emerge as googly-eyed, awkward nymphomaniacs, singing unmasked in karaoke bars, maybe hoping your rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” will lead to bumping uglies. But that’s where the comparisons end.

A possum’s about to squash me, so one final plea: You should be like me, but for the right reasons. While I’ve been cast as America’s lewdest insect, most of the time I’m just toddling up an oak branch, clinging to a dewey blade of grass in glimmering dawn, suckling sweet xylem from the ash twig, raining down sap showers onto my brothers and sisters. This is my most essential self. I wish the same for you this summer. Abandon Zoom and doomscrolling and get back to nature. Return to your wayward brothers and sisters and connect with new ones who make you feel comfortable in your new skin. And please keep the noise down about how aroused you are. Love me, hate me, eat me—just stop saying you are me.

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